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Locating devices using wireless communications

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Publication number
US20090045939A1
US20090045939A1 US12181265 US18126508A US2009045939A1 US 20090045939 A1 US20090045939 A1 US 20090045939A1 US 12181265 US12181265 US 12181265 US 18126508 A US18126508 A US 18126508A US 2009045939 A1 US2009045939 A1 US 2009045939A1
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Prior art keywords
devices
location
device
bas
system
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Abandoned
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US12181265
Inventor
Scott T. Holland
Jerald P. Martocci
John T. Fenske
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Johnson Controls Technology Co
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Johnson Controls Technology Co
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B17/00Monitoring; Testing
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W24/00Supervisory, monitoring or testing arrangements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/18Self-organising networks, e.g. ad-hoc networks or sensor networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W8/00Network data management
    • H04W8/005Discovery of network devices, e.g. terminals

Abstract

A method for determining the location of a device of interest is described. The method includes gathering a wireless communications characteristic of the communications between the device of interest and the BAS devices. The method further includes using a processing circuit to determine the location of the device of interest using the gathered wireless communications characteristics and location information regarding the BAS devices.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/962,697, filed Jul. 31, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    The present disclosure generally relates to the field of building automation systems. The present disclosure relates more specifically to the location of building devices using wireless communications.
  • [0003]
    Wireless communications have been used to identify objects. For example, wireless readers (e.g., radio frequency identification (RFID) readers) can be used to wirelessly identify target devices (e.g., RFID transponders, RFID tags, RFID-enabled devices, etc.). Target devices such as RFID transponders have been coupled to people or equipment for inventory and tracking purposes (e.g., movement through an assembly line, etc.).
  • [0004]
    Conventional radio frequency location systems (RFLS) typically have relatively poor resolution characteristics. Accordingly, many RFLS systems rely on highly directional readers or the application relying on the RFLS system is designed with poor resolution characteristics in mind.
  • [0005]
    Improved systems and methods for locating building devices using wireless communications are needed.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0006]
    The invention relates to a method for determining the location of a first device. The method includes using the first device for wireless communications with a first building automation system (BAS) device. The method further includes gathering a wireless communications characteristic of the wireless communications between the first device and the first BAS device. The method yet further includes using a processing circuit to determine the location of the first device using the wireless communications characteristic. The method yet further includes storing the determined location in a memory unit, displaying the determined location on an electronic display system, or storing the determined location in the memory unit and displaying the determined location on the electronic display system.
  • [0007]
    The invention further relates to a system for determining the location of a first device based on the location of a first BAS device that is a part of a building automation system. The system includes a processing circuit configured to gather a wireless communications characteristic of wireless communications between the first device and the first BAS device. The processing circuit determines the location of the first device using the wireless communication characteristic. The processing circuit also stores the determined location in a memory unit and displays the determined location on an electronic display system. The processing circuit can also store the determined location in the memory unit and display the determined location on the electronic display system.
  • [0008]
    The invention further relates to a method for determining the location of a device of interest using BAS devices. The method includes gathering a wireless communications characteristic of communications between the device of interest and the BAS devices. The method further includes using a processing circuit to determine the location of the device of interest using the gathered wireless communications characteristics and location information regarding the BAS devices.
  • [0009]
    Alternative exemplary embodiments relate to other features and combinations of features as may be generally recited in the claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0010]
    The disclosure will become more fully understood from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements, in which:
  • [0011]
    FIG. 1 is a cut-away perspective view of a building, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a building automation system, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a mesh network for the building of FIG. 1, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 4A is a perspective view of a building area of the building of FIG. 1, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 4B is a block diagram of a supervisory controller coupled to various BAS devices; according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 4C is a block diagram of a supervisory controller coupled to various BAS devices, according to another exemplary embodiment;
  • [0017]
    FIGS. 5A-D are schematic diagrams of building areas illustrating various nodes in various positions and scenarios, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an RFLS system, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 7 is a view of a user interface showing location information, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 8A is a flow diagram of a process of determining a location of a node of interest, according to an exemplary embodiment;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 8B is a flow diagram of a process of determining a location of a node of interest, according to another exemplary embodiment;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of a process of determining a status of a node of interest, according to an exemplary embodiment; and
  • [0023]
    FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of a process of using location information in a security system, according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • [0024]
    Before turning to the figures, which illustrate the exemplary embodiments in detail, it should be understood that the application is not limited to the details or methodology set forth in the description or illustrated in the figures. It should also be understood that the terminology is for the purpose of description only and should not be regarded as limiting.
  • [0025]
    Referring generally to the figures, systems and methods for locating building devices using wireless communications are shown. The location of a device of interest can be determined by using wireless communications between the device of interest and other building automation system (BAS) devices. At least one wireless communications characteristic of the wireless communications between the device of interest and the BAS devices is gathered and used by a processing circuit to determine the location of the device of interest. The determined location can be used to locate the physical device of interest for service reasons (or any other reason). Further the determined location can be used to automatically configure the device of interest for use with the BAS. For example, the device of interest can be automatically configured by a supervisory controller or self-configured based on the determined location. Configuring the device of interest for use with the BAS can include associating the device of interest with a BAS control loop and/or a building area. The determined location information can be stored in memory for later use.
  • [0026]
    Referring now to FIG. 1, a perspective view of a building 10 is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. Building 10 is shown to include a plurality of building automation system (BAS) devices (or nodes) 13 capable of transmitting and/or receiving radio frequency (RF) signals. As illustrated, building 10 may include any number of floors, rooms, spaces, zones, and/or other building structures and areas. According to various exemplary embodiments, building 10 may be any area of any size or type, including an outdoor area. Devices 13 may exist inside or outside the building, on walls or on desks, be user interactive or not, and may be any type of BAS device. For example, devices 13 may be security devices, light switches, fan actuators, temperature sensors, thermostats, smoke detectors, occupancy sensors, field controllers, supervisory controllers, other various types of sensors (flow, pressure, etc.), etc. Devices 13 may be configured to conduct building automation functions (e.g., sense temperature, sense humidity, control a building automation device, etc.). Some devices 13 can also serve any number of network functions (e.g., RF measuring functions, network routing functions, etc.). Controller system 102 is shown as a desktop wireless device. Controller system 102 may serve as a network coordinator, a supervisory controller for the BAS, a wireless access point, a router, a switch, or a hub, and/or serve as another node on a network. Workstation 19 is shown as a personal workstation. Workstation 19 may allow building engineers to interact with controller system 102 and/or devices 13.
  • [0027]
    BASs are, in general, hardware and/or software systems configured to control, monitor, and manage equipment in or around a building or building area. BAS equipment can include a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, a security system, a lighting system, a fire alerting system, an elevator system, another system that is capable of managing building functions, or any combination thereof. The BAS and the BAS components illustrated and discussed in the present disclosure are examples of building automation systems and devices that may be used in conjunction with the systems and methods of the present disclosure; however, other building systems can be used with the systems and methods of the present disclosure.
  • [0028]
    Referring to FIG. 2, a schematic diagram of a BAS 100 that may be used with the systems and methods of the present disclosure is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. BAS 100 may include one or more supervisory controllers (e.g., a network automation engine (NAE)) 102 connected to a proprietary or standard communications network such as an IP network (e.g., Ethernet, WiFi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11, IEEE 802.15, IEEE 802.15.4, IEEE 802.16, IEEE 802.20, etc.). Supervisory controllers 102 may support various field-level communications protocols and/or technology which may be the same or different than those of the IP network also used by supervisory controllers 102. The field level communications can be conducted using various Internet Protocols (IP), BACnet over IP, BACnet Master-Slave/Token-Passing (MS/TP), N2 Bus, N2 over Ethernet, Wireless N2, LonWorks, ZigBee, and any number of other standard or proprietary protocols and/or technologies. Supervisory controllers 102 may include varying levels of supervisory features and building management features. The user interface of supervisory controllers 102 may be accessed via terminals 104 (e.g., web browser terminals) capable of communicably connecting to and accessing supervisory controllers 102. For example, FIG. 2 shows multiple terminals 104 that may variously connect to supervisory controllers 102 or other devices of BAS 100. For example, terminals 104 may access BAS 100 and connected supervisory controllers 102 via a WAN, an Internet location, a local IP network, or via a connected wireless access point. Terminals 104 may also access BAS 100 and connected supervisory controllers 102 to provide information to another source, such as printer 132.
  • [0029]
    Supervisory controllers 102 may be connected to any number of BAS devices. The devices may include, among other devices, devices such as field equipment controllers (FEC) 106 and 110 such as field-level control modules, variable air volume modular assemblies (VMAs) 108, integrator units, room controllers 112 (e.g., a variable air volume (VAV) device or unit), other controllers 114, unitary devices 116, zone controllers 118 (e.g., an air handling unit (AHU) controller), boilers 120, fan coil units 122, heat pump units 124, unit ventilators 126, expansion modules, blowers, temperature sensors, network routers, humidity sensors, temperature sensors, flow transducers, other sensors, motion detectors, actuators, dampers, heaters, air conditioning units, etc. These devices may generally be controlled and/or monitored by supervisory controllers 102. Data generated by or available on the various BAS devices that are directly or indirectly connected to supervisory controllers 102 may be passed, sent, requested, or read by supervisory controllers 102 and/or sent to various other systems or terminals 104 of BAS 100. The data may be stored by supervisory controllers 102 in a local or remote memory unit, processed by supervisory controllers 102, transformed by supervisory controllers 102, and/or sent to various other systems or terminals 104 of the BAS 100. As shown in FIG. 2, the various devices of BAS 100 may be connected to supervisory controllers 102 with a wired connection or with a wireless connection.
  • [0030]
    Referring still to FIG. 2, an enterprise server 130 (e.g., an application and data server (ADS)) is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. Enterprise server 130 is a server system that includes a database management system (e.g., a relational database management system, Microsoft SQL Server, SQL Server Express, etc.) and server software (e.g., web server software, application server software, virtual machine runtime environments, etc.) that provide access to data and route commands to BAS 100. For example, enterprise server 130 may serve user interface applications. Enterprise server 130 may also serve applications such as Java applications, messaging applications, trending applications, database applications, etc. Enterprise server 130 may store trend data, audit trail messages, alarm messages, event messages, contact information, and/or any number of BAS-related data. Terminals may connect to enterprise server 130 to access the entire BAS 100 and historical data, trend data, alarm data, operator transactions, and any other data associated with BAS 100, its components, or applications. Various local devices such as printer 132 may be attached to components of BAS 100 such as enterprise server 130.
  • [0031]
    While supervisory controllers 102 are shown in FIG. 2 as intermediate level supervisory controllers (e.g., between a local field controller 106 and an enterprise server 130), supervisory controllers 102 can be any device or system configured to supervise and/or control other BAS devices. For example, supervisory controllers 102 can be an ADS, a field level supervisory controller, an intermediate level supervisory controller, an enterprise level supervisory controller, or otherwise.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a mesh network 11, according to an exemplary embodiment. Mesh network 11 is an example of a network formed by devices 13. According to other exemplary embodiments, the devices may be arranged in another type of network topology.
  • [0033]
    In the illustrated embodiment, mesh network 11 includes a building area 12, a plurality of devices 13 a and 13 b (e.g., RF-enabled BAS devices), a controller system 14, a network 18, and a workstation 19 (e.g., a desktop computer, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a laptop, etc.). Devices 13 a and 13 b are interconnected by connections 15 (displayed as solid lines on FIG. 3) such as RF connections. Connections may be disabled (or otherwise unavailable) for various reasons (displayed as dashed lines on FIG. 3) and are shown by connections 16 in FIG. 3. As a result, some devices 13 a (devices without a solid line connection as illustrated in FIG. 3) may be temporarily disconnected from mesh network 11, but are configured to automatically connect (or reconnect) to any other suitable device 13 a within range. Other devices 13 b may be disconnected from mesh network 11 without being able to connect to another device 13 a. Controller system 14 may be connected to workstation 19 via network 18 and may include station 14 b for receiving input from the various devices 13 a and 13 b.
  • [0034]
    According to an exemplary embodiment, devices 13 a and 13 b of FIG. 3 are ZigBee-compatible devices. ZigBee is the name of a specification related to low cost and low power digital radios. The ZigBee specification describes a collection of high level communication protocols based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. A ZigBee compatible device is a device generally conforming to ZigBee specifications and capable of existing or communicating with a ZigBee network. In other exemplary embodiments, devices 13 a and 13 b could be any kind of radio frequency communicating wireless device including, but not limited to, Bluetooth devices and traditional 802.11 (Wi-Fi) based devices. According to an exemplary embodiment, devices 13 a and 13 b may consist of any type of ZigBee device including ZigBee coordinators, ZigBee routers, ZigBee end devices, etc. ZigBee coordinators and routers are generally RF-enabled BAS devices that can act as intermediate routers and may relay data to and from other RF-enabled devices on the network. The devices are sometimes referred to as full function devices. ZigBee end devices may not be able to relay data from other devices back onto the network. These devices are sometimes referred to as reduced function devices. Reduced function devices can be used to assist with device detecting and locating.
  • [0035]
    Still referring to FIG. 3, mesh network 11 may include a number of devices 13 a and 13 b that are either full function devices or reduced function devices. For example, devices 13 a that might be end devices or reduced function devices are shown with one connection (and may only have one possible connection) in mesh network 11. Devices 13 b might be coordinators, routers or full function devices that relay information to and from multiple devices 13 a and 13 b on mesh network 11 (illustrated by a device with multiple connections). Devices 13 a and 13 b may be configured to determine a shortest path or otherwise exemplary path in which to send data on mesh network 11.
  • [0036]
    Referring generally to FIGS. 4A-4C, systems for determining the location of people or devices using wireless BAS devices are shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. The location of node of interest (NOI) 450 is determined in FIGS. 4A-4C by collecting and processing characteristics of the wireless communications between NOI 450 and one or more neighboring BAS devices 452. NOI 450 is shown in FIG. 4A as a BAS device attached to the building. In alternative embodiments, NOI 450 may be a device carried by a person or another device located in the building. The wireless communications characteristics may be or include signal strength, transmission/reception timing, transmission/reception phase angle, or any other characteristic relating to wireless communications between a NOI and nearby or neighboring BAS devices.
  • [0037]
    Referring now to FIG. 4A, a partial view of building area 12 is shown, according to an exemplary embodiments. Building area 12 is shown to include NOI 450, BAS devices 452, supervisory controller 102, people 406, and mobile equipment 17. According to an exemplary embodiment, devices 450 and 452 are RF-enabled BAS devices (e.g., devices 13 a, 13 b of mesh network 11 of FIG. 3) that are used to form a mesh network or other type of network. BAS devices 452 may be part of a wireless mesh network or other wireless network, and may be coupled (via a wired or wireless connection) to a supervisory controller (e.g., supervisory controller 102).
  • [0038]
    Some of BAS devices 452 may be BAS sensors disposed within and/or around building area 12 and that are configured to sense various conditions or variables of building area 12. BAS sensors may be temperature sensors, humidity sensors, air quality sensors, equipment sensors, person sensors, lighting sensors, heat transferring object sensors, infrared sensors, and/or any other type of sensor that may be configured to sense an BAS related condition or variable relating to building area 12. BAS sensors may be disposed on the walls of building area 12, installed within a dropped ceiling, or positioned in any manner or location within building area 12. BAS sensors may have any number of user interface and/or communications features configured to facilitate operation of the BAS sensors or a BAS control system.
  • [0039]
    Building area 12 may include or be occupied with various people 406 or other assets. People 406 and assets may be mobile (e.g., the location of the people and assets may routinely change) or stationary (e.g., fixed). For example, mobile equipment 17 (e.g., a laptop) can move in, around, and out of building areas such as building area 12.
  • [0040]
    NOI 450 may be a new node or new BAS device introduced into building area 12. NOI 450 may seek to be added to the wireless network formed by BAS devices 452, and may wirelessly communicate with one or more of BAS devices 452. NOI 450 may provide data to supervisory controller 102 via BAS devices 452 or directly.
  • [0041]
    Referring now to FIGS. 4B and 4C, block diagrams of systems 400 and 449 for determining the location of people or devices using wireless BAS devices are shown, according to various exemplary embodiments. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4B, supervisory controller 102 is configured to receive wireless communications characteristics (e.g., self-determined wireless communications characteristics relative to BAS devices 452, characteristics compiled by supervisory controller 102, etc.) from NOI 450 and/or BAS devices 452. Supervisory controller 102 is configured to process the received wireless communications characteristics to determine the location of NOI 450. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4C, NOI 450 is configured to receive the wireless communications characteristics and to determine its own location based on the characteristics. Accordingly, in FIG. 4B, processing circuit 460 is shown in supervisory controller 102 and in FIG. 4C, processing circuit 460 is shown in NOI 450.
  • [0042]
    NOI 450 is shown to be in wireless communication with BAS devices 452. NOI 450 may be a BAS device such as a sensor, a network device, a router, an a mobile node associated with a person (e.g., cellular phone, laptop, PDA, pager, key fob, RFID tag), or otherwise. NOI 450 can include a processing circuit including, e.g., a transceiver, a processor, and memory configured to conduct its normal operations (e.g., network operations, BAS operations) and/or to conduct wireless communications characteristics measuring (e.g., sensing, calculating, estimating, etc.) operations. The processing circuit can be configured to measure in parallel with the normal operations and/or to switch between normal operations and measuring operations. Further, normal communications between NOI 450 and BAS devices 452 can be tracked and used to extract wireless communications characteristics from the tracked communications. For example, signal strength records relating to communications (e.g., one or more sets of packets) can be stored in memory of NOI 450 and processed to obtain an aggregate measure of signal strength (e.g., an average signal strength, a range of signal strengths, etc.). NOI 450 can also be configured to sort signal strength records for BAS devices 452, to sort BAS devices 452, and/or to categorize BAS devices 452 into different signal strength categories (e.g., 100-91% average signal strength, 90-81% signal strength, etc.). Any calculation, sorting, or historical data obtained by NOI 450 can be provided to other BAS devices and/or supervisory controller 102. For example, signal strength measurements taken by NOI 450 to various neighboring BAS devices 452 may be sent to supervisory controller 102.
  • [0043]
    Referring further to FIG. 4B, processing circuit 460 is shown to include location engine 462, memory 464, processor 466, and transceiver 468. Supervisory controller 102 may receive signal strength data and other data from NOI 450 and/or from one or more BAS devices 452 via wireless communications conducted by transceiver 468. Location engine 462 can be a software (and/or hardware) portion of processing circuit 460 configured to use wireless communications characteristics to determine (e.g., calculate, estimate, etc.) the location of NOI 450. The functionality of location engine 462 is described in greater detail in subsequent figures. Memory 464 (e.g., a memory unit, memory device, storage device, etc.) may be one or more devices for storing data. Memory 464 may also store computer code for completing and/or facilitating the various processes described in the present disclosure. Memory 464 may include volatile memory and/or non-volatile memory. Memory 464 may include database components, object code components, script components, and/or any other type of information structure for supporting the various activities described in the present disclosure. Memory 464 can be any type of electronic memory unit. Processor 466 may be a general purpose processor, an application specific processor (ASIC), a field programmable gate array, an integrated circuit, a circuit containing one or more processing components, a group of distributed processing components, a group of distributed computers configured for processing, or any other collection of hardware and/or software components for completing or facilitating the activities described in the present application. Processor 466 may be or include any number of components for conducting data and/or signal processing.
  • [0044]
    Referring now to FIG. 4C, a block diagram of a system 449 for determining the location of people or devices using wireless BAS devices is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. In the embodiment of FIG. 4C, processing circuit 460 is shown in NOI 450. NOI 450 may be capable of connecting to neighbor BAS devices 452 and obtaining signal strength information and other data from neighbor BAS devices 452. NOI 450 may use location engine 462 of processing circuit 460 to determine its location. NOI 450 may then connect to BAS devices 452 and/or supervisory controller 102 via neighbor BAS devices 452, providing BAS devices 452 and/or supervisory controller 102 with location data (e.g., the determined location) for NOI 450.
  • [0045]
    Referring generally to FIGS. 5A-5E, overhead diagrams of multiple building areas 502, 504 are shown with a plurality of devices 511-516 (e.g., BAS devices) located throughout areas 502, 504. Devices 511-516 may form a network (e.g., mesh network 11 of FIG. 3). Some devices may be mobile (e.g., the position of the node may change).
  • [0046]
    Referring to FIG. 5A, five devices 511-515 are shown in building areas 502, 504. Devices 511-515 may be in a fixed location, according to an exemplary embodiment. The location of nodes 511-515 may be known by a supervisory controller or other component of the network and/or BAS. Referring now to FIG. 5B, a device 516 is introduced to building area 504. Device 516 may be a new device added to building area 504, may be associated with a moving person or asset, or otherwise (e.g., an old device was serviced or reset and location information for the old node was cleared).
  • [0047]
    Systems as those described in FIGS. 4A-4C may be used to find the location of node 516. Devices 511-515 can be or be used as the BAS devices 452 shown in FIGS. 4A-4C. For example, devices 511-515 can be existing building devices (e.g., actuators, light switches, light fixtures, occupancy sensors, temperature sensors, other sensors, controllers, etc.) configured to wireless communications. In other words, BAS devices (e.g., building control components) and the BAS network itself can be used to increase the density of receivers used to locate RFID tags or other wireless devices (e.g., mobile phones, other BAS devices, network devices, PDAs, laptops, and/or other fixed or mobile equipment). According to an exemplary embodiment, a dense network of BAS devices can be designed to achieve a sensing accuracy nearing one foot.
  • [0048]
    Referring now to FIG. 5C, devices 511-515 may establish a communications link with device 516, device 516 may establish a communications link with devices 511-515, and/or device 516 may simply exchange wireless communications with devices 511-515. Data about signal strength between device 516 and the receivers of other device 511-515, location data, and other data may be provided throughout the network formed by device 511-515. Using the data, the location of device 516 is discovered. The location of device 516 may be provided to various components of the network for future use.
  • [0049]
    Many different methods for determining location can be used. For example, if the devices having known locations densely populate an area, a quick determination can be made that a new device is within a certain radius (or other measure of proximity) of a nearby device sensing the new device. If multiple devices sense the new device, a sort routine can be used by a location engine to estimate the device nearest the new device and the new device can be associated with a space relating to the estimated nearest device. Yet further, methods for determining the location of a device using wireless devices in the space can range from a triangulation method, a multilateration method, a hyperbolic positioning method, a processes based on the time difference of arrival (TDOA), a trilateration method, a process based on differences or absolute measurements of time-of-transmission from three or more devices, a process involving phase of the radio signals to determine an angular component, a process involving signal strength measurements, and/or any other suitable radiolocation method. While many of the embodiments described herein utilize two or more BAS devices to locate a NOI, in other embodiments, one BAS device may be used for locating the NOI.
  • [0050]
    Referring now to FIG. 5D, device 516 is illustrated as having moved from one location to another. Device 516 may be associated with a device that is manually moved, associated with a mobile person or asset, or otherwise. Device 516 and/or the supervisory controller can determine whether the device has moved by requesting that the device (or the supervisory controller) update and/or confirm the device's geographical location and/or location relative to other devices of the system at regular (or irregular) intervals. For example, if the device determines that it has new neighboring device s or a new preferred device for communication, the device can enter a relocation routine configured to conduct precise location activity via any of the methods mentioned in the present application. Further, if a device having a known and/or confirmed location receives reliable communications from a new device (which might just be a moved node), the device and/or the supervisory controller can push the new device into a location activity routine.
  • [0051]
    Referring to FIG. 6, a block diagram of an RFLS system 600 coupled to various BAS systems is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. RFLS system 600 may be a system including various objects and systems and methods for determining locations of said objects. Various mobile or fixed objects 601, 602, 603, 604 may be associated with, coupled to, and/or have embedded within various tags, transceivers, or devices 605, 606, 607, 608. A mobile object 601 (e.g., a person, a temperature sensor, etc.) may be associated with an RFID tag 605 (or other RF-based identification tag). Another mobile object 602 (e.g., a laptop, a temperature sensor, a routing node, etc.) may be associated with a Bluetooth transceiver 606. Another mobile object 603 (e.g., a person) may be associated with a portable wireless device 607 (e.g., cell phone, PDA, etc.). A fixed object 604 (e.g., a temperature sensor, a routing node, an air flow sensor, a supervisory controller, an actuator for a damper, etc.) may be associated with a wireless transceiver 608 (e.g., a ZigBee transceiver, an IEEE 801.11 transceiver, etc.) or any other RF transceiver, tag, or device. The various tags, transceivers, and devices may be used by system 600 to determine the location of all objects associated with the tags, transceivers, and devices. RFLS system 600 may include other wireless sensors 614 and/or other wireless devices 616 that include identification capabilities. RFLS system 600 additionally includes supervisory controllers 102 and various BAS devices 452. Any of the devices (e.g., BAS devices 452, supervisory controller 102, etc.) can be used for the location activity of other devices shown in RFLS system 600.
  • [0052]
    RFLS system 600 is shown to include server 610. Server 610 may include a location engine 612 configured to determine the location of various objects in the building area associated with RFLS system 600. According to another exemplary embodiment, location engine 612 may be located in any object, sensor, or device within RFLS 600 (e.g., supervisory controller 102, each of BAS devices 452, etc.). Location engine 612 receives data from the one or more objects of RFLS system 600 regarding wireless communications thereof and determine a location for one or more of the objects using one or more characteristics of the wireless communications and known locations for one or more reference objects (e.g., fixed object 604, supervisory controller 102, etc.).
  • [0053]
    RFLS system 600 may gather, calculate, and/or store location information for the various objects of system 600 and provide the location information to other systems. For example, location information may be provided to a security system 620. Security system 620 may be integrated with RFLS system 600 (e.g., the P2000 Security system made by Johnson Controls, Inc.) or may be a separate system configured to receive, recall, and/or use location information from RFLS system 600. By integrating RFLS system 600 with security system 620, one or more graphical user interfaces provided by security system 620 may be used as a positioning system to visually convey the location of people and/or assets on an electronic display.
  • [0054]
    Security system 620 may use location information to provide alarms or other warnings based on the location of people, assets, objects, sensors, or controllers of building area 12. For example, a person whose location information indicates the person is in an unauthorized area may trigger an alarm of security system 620. Additionally, user interfaces 630 may be provided to display location information of people or devices relative to a building floor plan (e.g., floor plan 700 of FIG. 7). Security system 620, BAS 100, commissioning tool 622, and/or server 610 are shown as communicably coupled to floor plan data and/or other building data 624. Floor plan data may correlate geographic locations with (x, y) or (x, y, z) coordinates on a map or other normalized set of data. Location information determined by a location engine can be normalized relative to floor plan data 624 and stored in one or more memory devices.
  • [0055]
    According to one exemplary embodiment, security system 620 may be integrated with various other systems. For example, an asset management system and human resources system may be integrated with security system 620. If a detected wireless device is associated with a piece of equipment (e.g., a laptop, a projector system, etc.), data may be recorded in the asset management system; if the portable wireless device is associated with a person, data may be recorded in the human resources system.
  • [0056]
    Location information may additionally be provided to various systems of BAS 100. BAS 100 may be coupled to user interfaces 632 for providing a visual representation of object location in the building area. BAS 100 can be configured to benefit from the wireless detection of device location relative to a building space (e.g., relative to floor plan coordinates). For example, BAS devices having their own location engines (e.g., powered by a CC2431 location engine provided by Texas Instruments) can also include a processing circuitry configured to automatically configure the device based on the determined location. Server 610 or supervisory controller 102 can be configured to assist or control an automatic configuration process of a BAS device for which its location has been determined. For example, server 610 can be configured to understand that devices in a common room should form a common control HVAC control loop. If a temperature sensor is introduced to an area and determines it is within the area based on wireless communications with other BAS devices, the supervisory controller can enroll the temperature sensor as a device configured to provide feedback information to an HVAC control loop for the area. This enrollment may include naming the temperature sensor in an equipment or BAS system database, relating the temperature sensor to a field controller, actuator controller, or other control loop, and/or sending communication instructions or other configuration information to the temperature sensor. For example, a supervisory controller might command a temperature sensor to name itself “First Floor Library Temperature Sensor [unique ID]” and to format the temperature sensor's messages for the first floor library's field controller.
  • [0057]
    Location information may further be provided to commissioning tool 622. Commissioning tool 622 may be coupled to user interfaces 634 for providing a visual representation of object location in the building area via a graphical user interface shown on an electronic display. For example, commissioning tool 622 can be executed on a portable laptop (e.g., having a transceiver or dongle configured to communicate with RFLS 600) to generate the user interface shown in FIG. 7.
  • [0058]
    Referring to FIG. 7, user interface 630 is shown in greater detail, according to an exemplary embodiment. User interface 630 may include a floor plan 700 representing object locations. A supervisory controller or other system components can be configured to generate online reports for people and/or equipment within building areas 502, 504 via user interface 630. A user may be able to graphically and remotely follow people or assets appearing in and/or moving through floor plan 700. User interface 630 may also provide the user with notifications or alarms provided by security system 620. Notifications or alarms may be based on associations or relationships stored in memory of the system.
  • [0059]
    User interface 630 may include various features associated with security system 620 and location engine 462. For example, user interface 630 includes view control 702 that allows the user to view only some devices or portions of floor plans. Zoom control 704 can control the display of floor plan 700. User interface 630 further includes a refresh control 706 that allows a user to specify how often to refresh floor plan 700. For example, floor plan 700 may refresh every fifteen minutes and refresh the current location of all nodes (e.g., between time intervals, some nodes may move, and the movement may be tracked when floor plan 700 is refreshed).
  • [0060]
    User interface 630 may include a signal strength legend 708 that allows a user to understand the signal strength estimated to be in various areas of building areas 502, 504. In the example shown in FIG. 7, signal strength is illustrated with three different intensity levels (high, medium, low) but may be illustrated in various ways according to other exemplary embodiments. A user may view the signal strength for specific areas of building areas 502, 504, and may use the signal strength data along with location information to adjust any number of components or settings of the network of the areas 502, 504. For example, a user may view signal strengths on floor plan 700 to determine a desired location for a new node and for a location where a node may be reliably discovered by the network formed by the other nodes.
  • [0061]
    Referring to FIG. 8A, a flow chart of a process 800 for determining a location of an NOI is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. Process 800 is shown to include the step of using the NOI to wirelessly communicate with one or more neighboring BAS devices (step 802). For example, various BAS devices may form a mesh network and the NOI may establish a communications link with the mesh network via one or more of the BAS devices. Process 800 is also shown to include the step of gathering one or more wireless communications characteristics relating to the wireless communications between the NOI and the nearby wireless devices (step 804). Wireless communications characteristics may include signal strength information, phase angle information, reception time information and the like. Gathering may include receiving the wireless communications characteristics from the nearby devices or a supervisory controller. Gathering can also include calculating the wireless communications characteristics based on the calculating device's own wireless communications data.
  • [0062]
    Process 800 yet further includes the step of gathering location information (step 806). Location information can be retrieved from a database, received with wireless information from each of the nearby wireless devices, retrieved from a supervisory controller, or otherwise. Location information can be normalized location information (e.g., x-y information relating to floor plan data), geographical location information (e.g., according to a GPS coordinate system), or can be formatted in any other way that can describe physical geolocation/building information.
  • [0063]
    Using the obtained wireless communications characteristic and location information of other devices, the location of the NOI may be calculated by a processing circuit of the NOI (step 808) or by a processing circuit of another device (e.g., a supervisory controller, an ADS, an enterprise controller, etc.). The location of the NOI may be stored or displayed in a variety of manners (step 810). The determined location may be stored in a memory unit of the NOI or another device (e.g., a supervisory controller, an enterprise server, etc.), displayed on an electronic display system communicably coupled to an ADS, or both.
  • [0064]
    Referring also to FIG. 8B, a flow chart of a process 850 for determining a location of a NOI using a supervisory controller is shown, according to another exemplary embodiment. The supervisory controller may detect, command, and/or control wireless communications between the NOI and the BAS devices (step 852). Location information for the BAS devices can then be retrieved by the supervisory controller (step 854). Location information can be retrieved from memory of the supervisory controller, a BAS server, the separate BAS devices, the NOI, or from another source (e.g., a collection of floor plan data). One or more wireless communications characteristics (e.g., historical signal strength information) may be gathered at the BAS devices (step 856) and the wireless communications characteristics and location information may be received from the BAS devices at the supervisory controller (step 858).
  • [0065]
    Wireless communications characteristics and location information may be provided to the supervisory controller (or other component with a location engine) from various sources (e.g., the NOI, one or more databases of the BAS, etc.) for calculation (step 860). The location engine of the supervisory controller may use the received data to calculate the location of the NOI (step 862).
  • [0066]
    Referring to FIG. 9, a flow chart of a process 900 for determining status of a NOI is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. NOI geospatial status (e.g., moved, not moved) can be determined by using knowledge of changing network conditions. Process 900 may be initiated when a condition in the network is changed and detected (step 902). The change may be triggered by the detection of a new node or the detection of a moving or moved node. Process 900 may include determining if the changed condition of the network is a result of the presence of a new node (step 904). If a new node is detected, information from the node, along with signal strength information about the node and other known nodes, may be sent to a location engine (step 906) for determining the location of the new node. If there is not a new node, process 900 includes the step of determining if an existing node of the network moved (step 908). The node may be associated with a mobile person or asset, or may be manually moved by a user of the building area. If a node has not moved, process 900 may return to detecting a changed condition of the network. If a node has moved in the network, a determination as to if the node is currently moving may be made (step 910). For example, a node associated with a person may be continually moving as the person moves around the building area, while a node associated with an object or sensor may have been moved to another area. The node data from the node and from the determinations made in steps 908-910 may be provided to a location engine (step 912) to determine the actual location of the node. Step 910 may include a determination of a direction vector (e.g., angle and distance coordinates or other ways to representing a vector) of the node. As shown in FIG. 9 at step 911, if the node is determined to be moving, the system can adjust a parameter of the detecting system. For example, sensors near the movement can be configured to sense or query for the device at an increased rate. When sensing at an increased rate, the power level of the sensing devices may be adjusted downward or upward to provide proximity determinations with increased confidence and/or increased triangulation capabilities.
  • [0067]
    Referring to FIG. 10, a flow diagram of a process 1000 for using location information in a security system (or other system) is shown, according to an exemplary embodiment. Node location information and other node information may be received by a security system (step 1002). Node location information can be determined using any of the activities described in the present application. Other node information may include additional information about the device, asset, or person associated with the node. A type of node (e.g., device, asset, person, etc.) may be determined (step 1004). For example, the identity of a person associated with the node may be determined, a type of device or sensor may be determined, etc. The associations for the node may be retrieved (step 1006) based on the determined type or otherwise.
  • [0068]
    Node conditions or node attributes may be checked against the associations (step 1008). For example, node attributes regarding the location of the node may be checked against a stored association regarding the desired location for the node. Stored associations may additionally include permission data (e.g., if the node is not allowed in a particular area), object properties (e.g., if an object must be kept at a certain temperature or configuration, etc.), or any other data regarding the performance or condition of the node.
  • [0069]
    A determination as to if a proper association exists is made (step 1010). For example, a person located in an area where the person is not allowed to be may generate an alarm. A security system (or other system) may generate an alarm if warranted (step 1012) and exit the system (step 1014). The alarm can be a message for a user of the building area such as an e-mail or text message, according to an exemplary embodiment. The alarm may be generated when a proper association cannot be made, according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • [0070]
    While the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the figures and described herein are presently preferred, it should be understood that the embodiments are offered by way of example only. Accordingly, the present application is not limited to a particular embodiment, but extends to various modifications that nevertheless fall within the scope of the appended claims.
  • [0071]
    The present disclosure contemplates methods, systems and program products on any machine-readable media for accomplishing various operations. The embodiments of the present disclosure may be implemented using existing computer processors, or by a special purpose computer processor for an appropriate system, incorporated for this or another purpose, or by a hardwired system.
  • [0072]
    The construction and arrangement of the systems and methods as shown in the various exemplary embodiments are illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments have been described in detail in this disclosure, many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, colors, orientations, etc.). For example, the position of elements may be reversed or otherwise varied and the nature or number of discrete elements or positions may be altered or varied. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present disclosure. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. Other substitutions, modifications, changes, and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the exemplary embodiments without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.
  • [0073]
    Embodiments within the scope of the present disclosure include program products comprising machine-readable media for carrying or having machine-executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such machine-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. By way of example, such machine-readable media can comprise RAM, ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, CD-ROM or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to carry or store desired program code in the form of machine-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a machine, the machine properly views the connection as a machine-readable medium. Thus, any such connection is properly termed a machine-readable medium. Combinations of the above are also included within the scope of machine-readable media. Machine-executable instructions include, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing machines to perform a certain function or group of functions. Further machine-executable instructions for completing and/or facilitating the various activities described herein can be downloaded from, retrieved from, and/or executed on a remote server via a wired or wireless connection.
  • [0074]
    Although the figures may show a specific order of method steps, the order of the steps may differ from what is depicted. Also two or more steps may be performed concurrently or with partial concurrence. Such variation will depend on the software and hardware systems chosen and on designer choice. All such variations are within the scope of the disclosure. Likewise, software implementations could be accomplished with standard programming techniques with rule based logic and other logic to accomplish the various connection steps, processing steps, comparison steps and decision steps.

Claims (20)

1. A method for determining the location of a first device, the method comprising:
using the first device for wireless communications with a first building automation system (BAS) device;
gathering a first wireless communications characteristic of the wireless communications between the first device and the first BAS device;
using a processing circuit to determine the location of the first device using the first wireless communications characteristic; and
storing the determined location in a memory unit and/or displaying the determined location on an electronic display system.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first device is a BAS device.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the first device is a sensor and the first BAS device is a routing node configured to route data for the BAS.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
gathering a second wireless communications characteristic of the wireless communications between and the first device and the second BAS device;
wherein the processing circuit uses the first wireless communications characteristic and the second wireless communications characteristic to determine the location of the first device.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein an absolute position of the first BAS device is stored in a memory system, wherein a position of the second BAS device relative to the first BAS device is stored in the memory system, and wherein the location of the first device determined by the processing circuit is a position relative to the first BAS device.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the processing circuit determines the location of the first device using at least one of a proximity calculation, a triangulation calculation, a multilateration method, and a trilateration method.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the wireless communications characteristic is at least one of signal strength, phase angle, transmission time, and time difference of arrival.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of determining the location of the first device comprises recalling pre-stored location information for the first BAS device and the second BAS device from the memory unit.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein storing the location information in the memory unit includes storing a normalized coordinate in a database, and wherein displaying the determined location on an electronic display system includes displaying a graphical user interface having device locations shown overlaying a graphical representation of a floor plan.
10. A system for determining the location of a first device based on the location of a first BAS device that is part of a building automation system, the system for determining location comprising:
a processing circuit configured to gather a wireless communications characteristic of wireless communications between the first device and the first BAS device, the processing circuit determining the location of the first device using the wireless communication characteristic, the processing circuit storing the determined location in a memory unit and/or displaying the determined location on an electronic display system.
11. The system of claim 10, wherein the first device is at least one of a routing node configured to route data for the BAS, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, an end node, an HVAC device, and a security device.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein the first device includes the processing circuit.
13. The system of claim 11, wherein the first BAS device is at least one of a supervisory controller, a sensor, and an actuator, and wherein the first BAS device includes the processing circuit.
14. The system of claim 11, wherein the first and second BAS devices are configured to wirelessly route BAS information to a supervisory node.
15. The system of claim 11, wherein the wireless communications are conducted via at least one of an IEEE 802.15 protocol, an IEEE 802.11 protocol, a ZigBee protocol, a Bluetooth protocol, and a WiMax protocol.
16. The system of claim 11, wherein the first device includes the processing circuit and wherein the processing circuit configures the first device for a BAS activity based on the determined location.
17. The system of claim 16, wherein the BAS activity is a control activity and wherein the first device associates itself with one of a building area and a building control loop based on the determined location.
18. The system of claim 10, wherein the processing circuit is further configured to gather a second wireless communication characteristic of communications between the first device and a second BAS device, wherein the processing circuit is configured to determine the location of the first device the wireless communication characteristic, the second wireless communication characteristic, and using one of a triangulation calculation, a multilateration method, and a trilateration method; and
wherein the wireless communications characteristic is at least one of signal strength, phase angle, transmission time, and time difference of arrival.
19. A method for determining the location of a device of interest using BAS devices, the method comprising:
gathering a wireless communications characteristic of communications between the device of interest and the BAS devices; and
using a processing circuit to determine the location of the device of interest using the gathered wireless communications characteristics and location information regarding the BAS devices.
20. The method of claim 19, further comprising:
associating the device of interest with a BAS control loop and configuring the device of interest based on the determined location; and
storing the determined location in memory with location information for the BAS devices.
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US8325637B2 (en) 2012-12-04 grant
US20090067363A1 (en) 2009-03-12 application
US20130095868A1 (en) 2013-04-18 application
US20090033513A1 (en) 2009-02-05 application

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