US20140300477A1 - Wireless notification systems and methods for electronic rodent traps - Google Patents

Wireless notification systems and methods for electronic rodent traps Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140300477A1
US20140300477A1 US14177561 US201414177561A US2014300477A1 US 20140300477 A1 US20140300477 A1 US 20140300477A1 US 14177561 US14177561 US 14177561 US 201414177561 A US201414177561 A US 201414177561A US 2014300477 A1 US2014300477 A1 US 2014300477A1
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Prior art keywords
trap
message
base station
remote notification
device
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Abandoned
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US14177561
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Christopher Rich
Thomas J. DALY, JR.
Aaron W. LUNGER
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Woodstream Corp
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Woodstream Corp
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01MCATCHING, TRAPPING OR SCARING OF ANIMALS; APPARATUS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS ANIMALS OR NOXIOUS PLANTS
    • A01M23/00Traps for animals
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01MCATCHING, TRAPPING OR SCARING OF ANIMALS; APPARATUS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS ANIMALS OR NOXIOUS PLANTS
    • A01M23/00Traps for animals
    • A01M23/38Electric traps
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01MCATCHING, TRAPPING OR SCARING OF ANIMALS; APPARATUS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS ANIMALS OR NOXIOUS PLANTS
    • A01M31/00Hunting appliances
    • A01M31/002Detecting animals in a given area
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01MCATCHING, TRAPPING OR SCARING OF ANIMALS; APPARATUS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS ANIMALS OR NOXIOUS PLANTS
    • A01M99/00Subject matter not provided for in other groups of this subclass
    • 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
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B25/00Alarm systems in which the location of the alarm condition is signalled to a central station, e.g. fire or police telegraphic systems
    • G08B25/01Alarm systems in which the location of the alarm condition is signalled to a central station, e.g. fire or police telegraphic systems characterised by the transmission medium
    • G08B25/10Alarm systems in which the location of the alarm condition is signalled to a central station, e.g. fire or police telegraphic systems characterised by the transmission medium using wireless transmission systems
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/12Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks
    • H04L67/125Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for proprietary or special purpose networking environments, e.g. medical networks, sensor networks, networks in a car or remote metering networks involving the control of end-device applications over a network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/26Push based network services

Abstract

A remote notification electronic rodent trapping system and method is provided having a plurality of electronic rodent trapping devices configured to wirelessly communicate trap information to each other and to a PC or wireless device. According to one embodiment, each trap is equipped with an RF transceiver and the rodent trapping devices form a mesh network with one another in which the trapping devices act as repeaters so that if one trap loses connectivity with the PC, information from that trap can be transmitted to the PC via another trap. According to an alternative embodiment, the traps individually report directly to the base station or to the base station via one or more repeaters, the repeaters enabling the range of the direct individual reporting configuration to be greatly increased.

Description

  • This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. Ser. No. 13/626,224, filed Sep. 25, 2012, the priority of which application is hereby claimed.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention is related to the field of pest control and pest trap monitoring and, more particularly, to a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system and method having electronic rodent traps with wireless communication capability enabling remote monitoring of trap status.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Rodent trap monitoring has typically required that the user come in close proximity to the trap to determine whether or not a rodent has been dispatched or the trap deactivated. Physically checking rodent traps can be inconvenient, particularly when the traps are located in a barn, attic, basement, crawl space, etc. Trap monitoring can also be very time consuming for users such as professional rodent control companies who place traps at multiple sites and then must physically visit each site on a regular basis to monitor the status of the traps and ensure traps are in an operational-ready state.
  • Therefore, a need exists for a system and method that enables rodent traps to be monitored remotely, eliminating the costly and time consuming task of going on-site to check individual traps to see whether or not they have been activated.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system. The system includes one or more electronic rodent trapping devices having wireless communication and networking capabilities, and a base station in communication with the trapping devices to enable the status of the traps to be remotely monitored.
  • Each trapping device is equipped with an RF transceiver that enables the trapping device to wirelessly communicate with the base station. According to one illustrated embodiment, the base station is a PC having a separate USB transceiver which is attached to the PC and configured to receive RF transmissions. The PC has a program that exchanges information with a website, referred to herein as “the remote notification website”, which is dedicated to operational control of the remote notification electronic rodent trapping system of each user. The software is transparent to the user, running in the background, and acts to forward information to the remote notification website.
  • In the first illustrated embodiment, a plurality of trapping devices are in communication with the PC and with each other. Each of the electronic rodent trapping devices includes a control circuit with a module having an embedded Synapse Network Application Protocol (SNAP®) network operating system that enables the device to communicate with the other trapping devices via the transceiver. The SNAP® operating system, developed by Synapse Wireless®, Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., will be described more fully hereinafter.
  • The PC, when connected to the Internet, accesses the remote notification website and exchanges information therewith. Computer devices other than a PC can also be used to access the remote notification website and monitor the remotely located electronic rodent trap systems. Accordingly, while use of a “PC” is described herein, it is understood that this term is intended to include other computing devices such as a MAC, tablet, smart phone, etc., that are capable of accessing the Internet in the manner described herein.
  • According to the machine-to-machine communication system, the trapping devices form a peer-to-peer network in which the trapping devices communicate with one another and with the PC. The trapping devices, also referred to herein simply as “traps”, also act as repeaters so that if one trap loses connectivity with the PC, information from that trap can be transmitted to the PC via another trap. In addition, because the traps communicate with and through each other, the range over which traps may be distributed is increased as traps that are outside the range of direct communication with the base station can communicate with the base station via one or more intervening traps. The user can monitor trap status, battery life and signal strength by accessing the remote notification website with the PC. The software running at the remote notification website is capable of sending email and text notification to any on-line PC over the Internet, or to any device capable of receiving a text message, when trap status has changed.
  • According to a second illustrated embodiment, the PC can be loaded with SNAP®. Using the SNAP® embodiment, the PC is loaded with software that can receive/display information from, and send information to, the trapping devices. The SNAP® software and related features are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,790,871 and 8,204,971, the disclosures of which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference as if fully set forth in their entirety.
  • The trapping devices, according to the SNAP® machine-to-machine communication system installed on the PC, form a peer-to-peer network as in the first embodiment in which the trapping devices communicate with one another and with the PC. The user can monitor trap status, battery life and signal strength directly from the PC. If the PC has Internet connectivity, the software is capable of sending email and text notification to another PC or cell phone over the Internet when trap status has changed.
  • According to another embodiment, rather than having the plurality of traps form a peer-to-peer network in which the trapping devices communicate with one another and thereby themselves act as repeaters, the system may be configured such that the traps each report independently of the other traps in the system without meshing with one another. By eliminating the need for the traps to form a mesh arrangement, each trap's battery life is conserved and other benefits are achieved.
  • For greater range of coverage, the direct reporting system may be configured to include a base station, a plurality of traps and a plurality of separate repeating devices, referred to herein simply as “repeaters”. The base station performs in the same manner as already described in connection with the earlier embodiments, communicating trap status received from the traps to the remote notification website. However, when one trap receives a message from another trap providing status information relating to the transmitting trap, the receiving trap does not act upon the status information received. Instead, a first repeater within range of the transmitting trap, upon receiving the message containing trap status information, repeats the message. Other repeaters within range of the first repeater receive the message from the first repeater and they, in turn, repeat the message. In this way, the range over which a message may be sent is greatly increased as the repeating of messages by a first repeater to one or more adjacent repeaters spreads the message from the first repeater to a second repeater and then to a third repeater, and so on. Multiple repeaters in a row or across the same area will repeat any messages they hear and, if the base station is in range of any of the repeaters, the base station will forward the trap status information to the remote notification website. Through the use of repeaters, the size of the system may be greatly increased and, because the traps do not mesh with one another, which requires longer “awake” periods, the battery life of the traps is significantly increased as will be discussed more fully hereinafter.
  • In view of the foregoing, one object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system with electronic rodent trapping devices having wireless remote notification capability that allows a user to monitor trap status from a remote location, eliminating the need for users to be in close proximity to an electronic rodent trap to determine whether the trap is functional or has been activated and needs servicing.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system and method that simultaneously monitors the status of multiple traps spaced at different locations from each other.
  • Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which each electronic rodent trapping device is equipped with an RF transceiver, enabling the trap to communicate with a separate USB transceiver attached to a user's PC.
  • Still another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which software installed on the user's Internet-connected PC transparently forwards data to a remote notification website through which the user can monitor trap status including battery life and/or signal strength.
  • A further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which trap status may be monitored directly by a user having a smartphone with an appropriate smartphone application capable of accessing information stored at a web server over the Internet.
  • A yet further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which the system is embodied in accordance with one or more types of “cloud” computing.
  • A still further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which software running at the remote notification website is capable of sending text and email notifications to a remotely located PC, or any device capable of receiving a text message, when trap status has changed.
  • Still a further object of the invention to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which electronic rodent trapping devices form wireless nodes that create a mesh network providing machine-to-machine communication.
  • Still another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding objects in which the traps act as nodes that communicate wirelessly with one another, automatically auto-forming a peer-to-peer network that repairs itself if one of the traps/nodes is removed or damaged.
  • Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system according to a second embodiment in which software is installed on the user's PC that allows the user to monitor trap status, battery life and signal strength from the PC.
  • A further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding object in which the software, when installed on a PC having Internet connectivity, is capable of sending text and email notifications to a remotely located PC or cellular device when trap status has changed.
  • A still further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which the electronic rodent trapping devices are configured to communicate with an Ethernet device with internet connection which sends updates to the website, eliminating the need for a PC.
  • Yet a still further object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which the electronic rodent trapping devices are configured to communicate with a cellular device which sends updates to the website, eliminating the need for a PC.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system that includes a base station and a plurality of traps in which the traps do not form a mesh with one another but instead either report directly to the base station individually or rely on one or more repeaters for relaying trap status information from the trap to another repeater and/or to the base station.
  • Yet another object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding object is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which each repeater, upon receiving a message with trap status information, repeats the message so the message may be effectively transmitted a great distance as a first repeater repeats the message which is received by a second repeater, the second repeater receives and repeats the message which is, in turn, received by a third repeater which repeats the message, and so on.
  • A further object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding two objects is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which the battery life of the plurality of traps is increased through elimination of the need for meshing of the traps since the process of meshing requires longer awake periods than with each trap reporting to the base station individually, either directly or through one or more intervening repeaters spaced between the trap and the base station.
  • Yet a further object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding three objects is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which greater range is obtained through the inclusion of repeaters, which are supplied with a continuous power source and can be used to repeat the trap status information to one another and to the base station as described herein.
  • A still further object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding four objects is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which the repeaters are always awake and in which each repeater, upon receipt of a trap status message, repeats the message only once.
  • Yet a still further object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding five objects is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in which the addition of more traps to a system does not increase the amount of awake time for any of the traps since the traps do not mesh up with one another but instead each trap reports its status individually and then goes back to sleep.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding six objects in which the system is embodied in accordance with one or more types of “cloud” computing, and/or is software installed on the user's Internet-connected PC transparently that forwards data to a remote notification website through which the user can monitor trap status, or trap status may be monitored directly by a user having a smartphone with an appropriate smartphone application capable of accessing information stored at a web server over the Internet.
  • Still another object of the present invention is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding seven objects in which software running at the remote notification website is capable of sending text and email notifications to a remotely located PC, or any device capable of receiving a text message or email, when trap status has changed.
  • A further object of the present invention is to provide a direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with the preceding eight objects in which the electronic rodent trapping devices are configured to communicate with an Ethernet device having internet connection that sends updates to the website, or with a cellular device which sends information to/from the website, eliminating the need for a PC.
  • A still further object of the present invention in accordance with the preceding objects is to provide a system that includes an over-the-air update features which allows new features, bug corrections or other upgrades to be loaded to the remote notification website and then downloaded to the base station and its associated traps upon user request.
  • These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a conceptual schematic of a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 1A is a conceptual schematic of the use of cloud computing in accordance with the remote electronic trapping system of the type shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 2 is a conceptual schematic of a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a conceptual schematic of a third embodiment in which the electronic rodent traps communicate with an Ethernet device having internet connection to send updates to a website.
  • FIG. 4 is a conceptual schematic of a fourth embodiment in which the electronic rodent traps communicate with a cellular device which sends information to/from a website.
  • FIG. 5 shows a mesh reporting configuration of multiple traps and a base station in accordance with the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 shows a direct individual trap reporting configuration of multiple traps and a base station in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 7 is an illustration of the addition of repeaters to the direct individual trap reporting system shown in FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 8 is an illustration of a large individual trap reporting system in accordance with the present invention, having a plurality of traps and a plurality of repeaters communicating with a base station.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • In describing preferred embodiments of the invention illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, the present invention is directed to a remote notification electronic rodent trapping system generally designated by reference numeral 10. The system includes a plurality of electronic rodent trapping devices 12 and a base station such as PC 14. The electronic rodent trapping devices may be of the types disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,836,999; 7,219,466; 7,690,147; and 7,757,430, all of which are co-owned by the assignee of the present invention and hereby expressly incorporated by reference as if set forth in their entirety.
  • According to the first illustrated embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 1, the plurality of trapping devices and the PC are configured to form a network 50 in which each of the traps communicates with the PC and preferably with other adjacent traps. The PC, when connected to the Internet 30, accesses a remote notification website 28 that coordinates the monitoring, reporting and control of the rodent trapping systems. The website is configured to send text messages to the PC 14 or other on-line smart device such as a MAC, tablet, smart phone, etc., as well as to any other device capable of receiving a text message. While the system will also work with only one trapping device and the base station, many of the capabilities described herein will not be realized in such a limited configuration. Therefore, the following description will be directed to the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 1 having a plurality of rodent trapping devices.
  • Each of the electronic rodent trapping devices 12 has an RF transceiver 18 and communicates with the PC 14 that has an RF USB transceiver 20 attached thereto to receive transmissions from the trapping devices 12. Each of the electronic rodent trapping devices includes a control circuit with a module having an embedded network operating system that enables the device to communicate with the other trapping devices via the transceiver 18. In the illustrated embodiment, the embedded network operating system is the SNAP® operating system, as will be described more fully hereinafter.
  • The PC 14 is provided with software that initiates forwarding of information to the remote notification website 28. The software incorporated within the present invention, including that on the PC and at the website, was developed by Exosite of Minneapolis, Minn.
  • The remote notification website 28, hosted by web server 24 which stores all of the trap status information, enables the user to review the content of RF transmissions received by the PC from the traps and thereby monitor trap status including one or more of whether the trap has dispatched a rodent or the trap has been deactivated, the battery life and the signal strength of each trap on the network.
  • In use, a plurality of electronic rodent trapping devices 12 are placed in various locations within a network area, such as in and around the user's home. According to the SNAP® protocol, the trapping devices, when powered on, automatically form a mesh network. As part of the mesh network, each trapping device communicates with every other trapping device that is within range on a peer-to-peer basis. The trapping devices act as repeaters for signals received from adjoining trapping devices so that traps that cannot communicate directly with the PC 14 due to distance or interference, can nonetheless communicate with the PC through one or more neighboring traps. If one of the traps is damaged or removed, the network is “self-healing” in that those of the remaining trapping devices that had relied upon the damaged trap as a repeater will find new communication pathways to the PC.
  • The transceivers 18 in the trapping devices can communicate with the PC 14 and with other trapping devices 12 in the network that are located up to approximately a quarter of a mile away when outdoors with line-of-sight. Indoor range is dependent on the number of interfering structures and/or RF signals in the network area. Testing has indicated that with standard building construction, the traps have a communication range of between about 100 to 250 feet. Again, because of the mesh configuration of the traps operating with the SNAP® operating system modules, traps that are not able to communicate with the base station directly due to interference of some sort can still provide trap status information to the base station by relaying their transmission through another trap which acts as a repeater.
  • To conserve battery life, the trapping devices are preferably configured to have a sleep state and an active state. The sleep state requires only low current, increasing the battery life of the trapping devices. The active state is entered at regular intervals during which the traps communicate with one another and with the PC. To ensure effective communication, all of the traps are coordinated so that their active states occur at the same time. The active state is only maintained for a set time period, after which the trapping devices return to the sleep state. The frequency with which the trapping devices enter the active state depends upon user requirements and/or preferences. One example would be that the trapping devices be set to “wake up” or enter the active state at two minute intervals. While the traps are in the active state, they send a transmission to the PC 14 and to the surrounding trapping devices if a change in trap status is detected.
  • The user can access the information provided by the trapping devices to the PC by logging onto the remote notification website 28 with a PC 32 or other smart device 34. For example, when a killing cycle has been performed in response to activation of the trap by a rodent, the user upon accessing the remote notification website is notified that the trap has been activated and needs to be checked and/or emptied. The remote notification website is also able to send email messages to the remote PC 32 over the Internet, as well as to any wireless device 33 capable of receiving an email message including, but not limited to, a cell phone, a smartphone, a PDA, a tablet, etc. The remote notification website 28 can also send text messages to any wireless device 35 capable of receiving a text message such as a cell phone, smartphone, pager, etc. Therefore, when certain events occur and are reported to the PC 14, such as a change in the status of one of the traps 12 including trap activation indicating a rodent has been dispatched, the PC 14 can forward this information to the web server 24 which makes the information available to the remote notification website 28. The website 28 then notifies the user by communicating over the Internet 30 to a remotely located PC 32 or other smart computing device 34 through which the user has accessed the website 28. When no activity is detected, the trapping devices enter a sleep mode that requires only low current, increasing the battery life of the trapping devices.
  • When sending text and/or email notification of trap status to a remote computing device, the remote notification website 28 identifies one or more specific traps which are the subject of the notification and includes at least one of a notice that a particular one of the identified traps needs to be checked, the particular trap's battery life and the particular trap's signal strength. The user is therefore able to avoid unnecessary trap checks and rather to attend to only those traps requiring service.
  • As also shown in FIG. 1, the web server 24 may also be directly accessed by a user having a smartphone 44 with an appropriate smartphone application (“smartphone app”) 48. The smartphone app 48 can access the web server 24 in the same way that the website 28 accesses the server 24. The smartphone app 48 pulls data from the server 24 and displays it to the user via the app 48 in the same way that the website 28 pulls data from the server 24 and displays that data to the user via a web page.
  • As shown in FIG. 1A, the remote notification electronic rodent trapping system may also be embodied in accordance with one or more types of cloud computing 130, in which cloud providers manage the infrastructure and platforms on which one or more applications run, as would be understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art.
  • According to a second embodiment shown in FIG. 2, SNAP® software may be loaded on the PC 14 to enable the PC to communicate trap status data to a smart device such as cell phone 16 that is on the local network 52. The PC, when connected to the Internet 30, is able to send email messages to a remote PC 32 or text messages to a cellular device 34 that is outside the network area. Any device capable of receiving email or a text message, such as wireless devices 33 and 35, may be notified in the same way. Therefore, when certain events occur and are reported to the PC 14, such as a change in the status of one of the traps 12, the PC 14 can notify the user by communicating with the cellular device 16 and/or other remotely located PCs and mobile wireless devices over the Internet. When a trap is activated, indicating a rodent has been dispatched, the trap wakes up and sends a notification to the PC 14 immediately.
  • As an alternative to using a PC 14 as the base station computing device, a plurality of electronic trapping devices 12 configured in accordance with the present invention may form a mesh network that communicates with an Ethernet device 22 having internet connection that acts as the “base station” for sending updates to the website, as shown in FIG. 3. Similarly, the trapping devices 12 may communicate with a cellular or “smart” device 26 acting as a “base station” and sending information to/from the website, thereby eliminating the need for a home PC, as shown in FIG. 4. As used herein, the term “computing device” is intended in its broadest sense and includes a PC, an Ethernet device and a cellular or “smart” device.
  • In use, the system according to the present invention provides a method for remote monitoring of an electronic rodent trapping device from a base station. The method includes providing the electronic trapping devices with an RF transceiver configured to send RF transmissions containing trap status data, and a base station computing device configured to receive the RF transmissions at a distance from the trapping device. The electronic rodent trap sends a transmission containing trap status data which is received by the base station computing device. The base station computing device then is able to notify a user of the trap status data contained in the RF transmissions.
  • According to the first embodiment, the step of providing notification can include having the user log onto a remote notification website dedicated to monitoring and reporting on remote electronic trap network systems as described herein. Once connected to the website 28, the PC forwards trap information to the web server 24 which stores the trap status information. By accessing the website 28, the user can review the trap status information from a remotely located PC or other smart device used to access the website. The step of providing notification can also be performed by a user with a smartphone 44 having an appropriate smartphone app 48 which accesses the web server 24 directly. The remote notification website and server 24 can also send a text or email notification to any remote device capable of receiving text messages (such as cell phones, smartphones, pagers, etc.) or email (such as cell phones, smartphones PDAs, tablets, etc.), and display the trap status data on a display of the remote device.
  • According to the present invention, the method includes providing a plurality of electronic trapping devices, each having an RF transceiver and configured to send RF transmissions containing trap status data to the base station computing device and preferably to each other. The plurality of electronic trapping devices auto-form a mesh network in which the traps send RF transmissions to the base station either directly or through another trapping device in the mesh network acting as a repeater.
  • The formation of a network of wirelessly communicating electronic rodent trapping devices and a base station as described herein eliminates the need for the user to physically check each trapping device on a regular basis in order to determine whether or not each trap is operational, contains a dispatched rodent, etc., a process which is time consuming and costly. With the present invention, the user is able to easily remain apprised of the status of a plurality of electronic trapping devices and even to receive trap status information over the Internet using a PC or cellular device. Further, the machine-to-machine communication relied upon in the mesh network created by the present invention makes the system very robust so as to be able to continue functioning effectively for remote monitoring even if one of the traps becomes unavailable.
  • While the meshing arrangement shown in FIG. 5 provides a very robust system, meshing of the traps requires all of the traps to wake up at the same time, report, and fall asleep at the same time. To ensure there are no collisions while communicating, or that the probability of collision is very low, the traps need to stay awake a certain length of time. This length of time increases as the number of traps increases. Hence, the more traps that are added to the system, the greater the awake period required, and the higher the battery drain on each trap per report.
  • To conserve battery life, the system of the present invention may alternatively be configured so that each of the traps 120 in the remote notification electronic rodent trapping system reports individually without forming a mesh network with the other traps 120, as representatively shown in FIG. 6. Unlike the previous embodiments, the plurality of traps 120 in the direct individual trap reporting system do not form a peer-to-peer network in which the trapping devices communicate with one another and thereby themselves act as repeaters. To the contrary, the traps do not respond to trap status information received from adjoining traps but operate individually, awaking and transmitting their status, and then going back to sleep without regard to whether trap status information from another trap was “heard” while in the awake state. Eliminating the need for the traps 120 to form a meshing arrangement significantly reduces the amount of time the traps must be “awake”. More particularly, through the use of individual reporting, each trap must only be “awake” long enough to report and can then return to its “sleep” mode. Each individual trap may report directly to the base station 140 as shown in FIG. 6, or may report through repeaters as will be described further hereinafter. Traps may be configured to wake up and report on a periodic basis. In addition, when a trap is activated, indicating a rodent has been dispatched, the trap wakes up and sends a notification to the PC 14 immediately.
  • Unless specifically stated herein, all of the capabilities of the mesh configuration are also available in the direct reporting configuration. Therefore, as in the meshing embodiments, the base station 140 in the direct reporting system may be one of a plurality of different computing devices such as, but limited to, a PC, an Ethernet device having internet connection, or a cellular or “smart” device which sends information to and from the website. The direct reporting remote notification electronic rodent trapping system may also be embodied in accordance with one or more types of “cloud” computing, and/or with software installed on the user's Internet-connected PC that forwards data to a remote notification website through which the user can monitor trap status. Trap status may also be monitored directly by a user having a smartphone with an appropriate smartphone application capable of accessing information stored at a web server over the Internet. The direct individual trap reporting system may include software running at the remote notification website that is capable of sending text and email notifications to a remotely located PC, or any device capable of receiving a text message, when trap status has changed.
  • For large systems such as in commercial spaces, the effectiveness of direct individual trap reporting may be further enhanced by adding repeating devices 60 to the remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as shown in FIG. 7. The repeating devices greatly increase the range over which the remote notification system may communicate. As with direct reporting of the traps 120 to the base station 140, when using repeaters 60 the awake time of the traps does not need to be increased as more traps are added to the system because neither the traps nor the repeaters mesh up. Instead, the repeaters stay on and each trap simply awakes, reports its status individually, and then goes back to sleep. As stated previously, the terms “repeating devices” or “repeaters” used herein refer to devices that receive a message and then, in turn, transmit the message received. As used herein, the phrase “direct reporting” is intended to include both those configurations in which each trap individually reports trap status directly to the base station and those configurations in which each trap reports trap status individually, but the trap status message transmitted by the trap reaches the base station via the re-transmission of the trap status message by one or more repeaters positioned between the reporting trap and the base station.
  • Unlike the traps, the repeaters 60, which may include a USB dongle or a stand-alone plug-in device, are supplied with a continuous power supply. For example, the dongles may be of the type that may be plugged into the base station or powered by a 5V power supply such as a cell phone charger. The dongle and power supply may be separate or built as a single device.
  • In operation, when passing the trap status information to the base station 140 from a plurality of traps 120 over a greater distance, a plurality of repeating devices 60 are used. One or more first repeaters receive a message containing trap status information from a trap. The designation “first” is used to denote that the subject repeaters are the first to hear a trap's transmission. Upon receipt of the trap message, each of the first repeaters repeats, i.e., retransmits, the message. Other repeaters, referred to as “second repeaters” for ease of explanation without denoting any difference in structure from the “first” repeaters, upon hearing the message transmitted by the “first” repeaters, repeat the message themselves. Repeaters out of range from the reporting trap, referred to as “third” repeaters for the same ease of explanation, but in range of the “second” repeaters, in turn repeat the message to reach “fourth” repeaters that are even further away from the trap. Through the relay effect of the distributed repeaters 60, the total system range over which trap status information may be communicated is greatly expanded. When, at any time during the ongoing and outwardly spreading repeating process, the base station 140 also hears the message, the base station forwards the trap status information to the remote notification website 28 (see FIG. 1).
  • Because dongles have a continuous power supply, battery life is not an issue for the repeaters. As already noted, repeaters are always awake. When a trap wakes up, the trap communicates to any repeater and/or base station in range. If a repeater hears the message, whether from the trap or another repeater, the hearing repeater repeats the message. Any repeaters which hear the original message or the repeated message will also repeat. However, a repeater will repeat each message only once, so that the same message is not repeated twice.
  • Given that each repeater, upon receiving a message with trap status information, repeats the message, the message may ultimately be repeated by a large number of repeaters. With each repetition, the message moves further from the originally transmitting trap, enabling the message to be effectively transmitted a great distance. For example, as a first repeater repeats the message which is received by a second repeater, the second repeater receives and repeats the message. The repeated message is, in turn, received by a third repeater which repeats the message, and so on.
  • FIG. 8 is representative of a large commercial direct reporting electronic trap system, generally designated by reference numeral 200, in accordance with the present invention. The system includes a base station 140; a plurality of repeaters 60 a, 60 b, 60 c, 60 d and 60 e; and a plurality of traps 120, 120 a, 120 b, 120 c, 120 d and 120 e. The plurality of traps in the immediate range of the base station 140 are designated by reference numeral 120. The plurality of traps within range of repeater 60 a are designated by reference numeral 120 a, the plurality of traps within range of repeater 60 b are designated by reference numeral 120 b, the plurality of traps within range of repeater 60 c are designated by reference numeral 120 c, the plurality of traps within range of repeater 60 d are designated by reference numeral 120 d, and the plurality of traps within range of repeater 60 e are designated by reference numeral 120 e.
  • Traps 120 communicate directly with the base station 140 without need of a repeater. Whether or not repeaters 60 a, 60 b, 60 c, 60 d or 60 e are designated “first” repeaters, “second” repeaters, “third” repeaters, etc. is determined on the basis of the trap currently reporting. For example, if one of traps 120 c reports, then repeater 60 c is a “first” repeater, being the first to receive the message from the trap 120 c. Repeater 60 c repeats the message upon receipt, with the message, in turn, being received and repeated by repeater 60 b, repeater 60 b acting as a “second” repeater. Repeater 60 b repeats the message which is then received by repeater 60 a, with repeater 60 a in this example acting as a “third” repeater. When repeater 60 a repeats the message, the message is then received by the base station 140.
  • If one of traps 120 b reports, then repeater 60 b is a “first” repeater, being the first to receive the message from the trap 120 b. Repeater 60 b repeats the message upon receipt, with the message, in turn, being received and repeated by repeater 60 a, repeater 60 a acting as a “second” repeater. The message sent from second repeater 60 a will then be received by the base station 140.
  • In the above example, when first repeater 60 b repeats the message from trap 120 b, repeater 60 c will also receive the repeated message and will repeat the same. Hence, in this case repeater 60 b will receive the same message twice—the first time from trap 120 b and the second time from repeater 60 c when repeater 60 c repeats the message it received from repeater 60 b. Repeater 60 b will recognize that the message received from repeater 60 c is the same message as that already received from trap 120 b and repeated in response thereto. Therefore, repeater 60 b will not repeat the same message again.
  • In a similar manner, if one of traps 120 a reports, then repeater 60 a is a “first” repeater, being the first to receive the message from the trap 120 a. The base station 140 will receive the message when repeated by repeater 60 a.
  • As in the previous example, when first repeater 60 a repeats the message from trap 120 a, repeater 60 b will also receive the repeated message and will repeat the same. Hence, in this case repeater 60 a will receive the same message twice—the first time from trap 120 a and the second time from repeater 60 b. Repeater 60 a will recognize that the message received from repeater 60 b is the same message as that already received from trap 120 a and repeated. Therefore, repeater 60 a will not repeat the same message again. In addition, when repeater 60 b, acting as a “second” repeater, repeats the message received from repeater 60 a, repeater 60 c will also receive that message and repeat the same. The message repeated by repeater 60 c will be received by repeater 60 b, but repeater 60 b will not repeat the message a second time, recognizing that the message received from repeater 60 c is the same message as that already received from repeater 60 a and already repeated in response to thereto.
  • The same operation occurs with repeaters 60 d and 60 e, repeater 60 e being a “first” repeater and repeater 60 d being a “second” repeater for traps 120 e, and repeater 60 d being a “first” repeater for traps 120 d. When repeater 60 d repeats a message received from one of traps 120 d, repeater 60 e will hear and repeat but repeater 60 d, upon receiving the message from repeater 60 e, will not repeat the same message a second time.
  • In the same way, should the base station 140 receive the same message more than once, the base station 140 will recognize the redundancy and will ignore all duplicative messages received after the first receipt of a given message.
  • By adding repeaters and traps, the system shown in FIG. 10 may be enlarged to include as many as 100 traps and possibly more, all reporting to a single base station 140.
  • The present invention also includes an over-the-air update feature which allows new features, bug corrections or other trap upgrades to be loaded to the remote notification website. Once loaded on the website, a user's portal will show that an update is available. By the user pressing a button, or using another input mechanism, the next time a trap reports its status to the base station, the update will be loaded to the trap. The over-the-air update feature may be used in conjunction with both the trap mesh network embodiments and the direct individual trap reporting embodiments of the present invention.
  • Accordingly, the present invention has been described with some degree of particularity directed to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention. It should be appreciated, though, that the present invention is defined by the following claims construed in light of the prior art so that modifications or changes may be made to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention without departing from the inventive concepts contained herein.

Claims (22)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. A remote notification electronic rodent trapping system comprising:
    a least one electronic rodent trapping device having an RF transceiver and configured to send RF transmissions containing trap status data;
    at least one repeating device configured to receive trap status data as a message and to repeat the message to another device; and
    a base station computing device configured to receive said message at a distance from said trapping device and/or from said at least one repeating device and to provide an output to said computing device for review by a user, said base station computing device enabling the user to monitor status of the trapping device without having to be in physical proximity to the trap.
  2. 2. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 1, wherein said system includes a plurality of electronic rodent trapping devices configured to send RF transmissions containing trap status data and a plurality of repeating devices configured to receive the RF transmissions as messages and to repeat the messages to at least one other device, said one another device being selected from the group consisting of another repeating device and said base station.
  3. 3. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 2, wherein said plurality of repeating devices includes a plurality of repeaters.
  4. 4. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 3, wherein said traps have a default sleep state and an awake state, each trap entering the awake state to transmit a message containing trap status information and then, following transmission of said message, returning to the sleep state, each reporting trap ignoring any trap status messages transmitted by other traps and heard while the reporting trap is in the awake state.
  5. 5. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4, wherein said traps, upon dispatching a mouse, automatically wake up and send a message indicating trap activation.
  6. 6. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base station computing device is a PC having a USB transceiver to receive said RF transmissions, said PC being connected to the Internet and having software that forwards trap status data contained in the RF transmissions to a remote notification website through which website a user, using an Internet enabled device, can monitor trap status.
  7. 7. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 6, wherein the remote notification website is able to send email and text notification to any remote device capable of receiving email or text messages.
  8. 8. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the plurality of repeating devices is a plurality of electronic trapping devices.
  9. 9. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base station computing device is a PC having a USB transceiver to receive said RF transmissions, said PC being connected to the Internet and having software that forwards trap status data contained in the RF transmissions to a web server hosting a remote notification website, the web server being directly accessible to a user having a smartphone with a smartphone app through which the user, using the smartphone, can monitor trap status.
  10. 10. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base station computing device is a PC having a USB transceiver to receive said RF transmissions, said PC having software loaded thereon that allows a user to check trap status data directly from the PC.
  11. 11. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 10 wherein said output provided to said base station computing device is shown on a display of the PC.
  12. 12. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base station computing device is a cellular device which sends updates to the web site and said output is shown on a display of the cellular device.
  13. 13. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base station computing device is an Ethernet device with internet connection which sends updates to the web site.
  14. 14. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said system further includes a remote notification website to which the base station computing device forwards trap status data over the Internet, said remote notification website being able to send email and text notification to any remote device capable of receiving email or text messages.
  15. 15. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 14 wherein said base station computing device is a PC.
  16. 16. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 15 wherein said second computing device is a cellular device or a PC.
  17. 17. The remote notification electronic rodent trapping system as set forth in claim 4 wherein the repeaters are USB dongles.
  18. 18. A method for remote monitoring of one or more electronic rodent trapping devices from a base station comprising:
    providing a system having a plurality of electronic trapping devices, a plurality of repeaters and a base station, each of said electronic trapping devices having a sleep state and an awake state, and further having an RF transceiver to send an RF transmission containing trap status data as a message, said base station computing device configured to receive said message at a distance from said trapping device and to provide a user with a computer output indicating the trap status data contained in said message;
    entering, by one of said electronic trapping devices, the awake state and transmitting a message containing said trap status data;
    upon completion of transmitting said message, said electronic trapping device entering the sleep state;
    receiving, by a first one of said repeaters, said message and said first repeater repeating said message to the base station and/or to another repeater within range of said first repeater;
    receiving said message from said first repeater by said base station computing device; and
    said base station computing device providing a user with a computer output indicating the trap status data contained in said message.
  19. 19. The method as set forth in claim 18, further comprising the step of forwarding the computer output indicating the trap status data contained in said RF transmissions to a remote notification website where a user with an Internet enabled device can review and monitor the trap status data by logging onto the website.
  20. 20. The method as set forth in claim 19, further comprising the step of said website sending an email and text notification to any remote device capable of receiving email or text messages.
  21. 21. The method as set forth in claim 19, wherein said step of providing a system having a plurality of electronic trapping devices and a plurality of repeaters includes having a first group of said plurality of repeaters repeat those messages within range of said first group of repeaters, a second group of said plurality of repeaters in range of said first group of repeaters in turn repeating the message, said message being received by said base station from at least one of said second group of repeaters.
  22. 22. The method as set forth in claim 18, further comprising the step of forwarding the computer output indicating the trap status data contained in said message to a web server configured to receive and store the trap status data, a user with a smartphone and a smartphone app being able to review and monitor the trap status data using the smartphone app.
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US14986353 US9743657B2 (en) 2012-09-25 2015-12-31 Wireless notification systems and methods for electronic rodent traps
PCT/US2016/068307 WO2017116985A1 (en) 2012-09-25 2016-12-22 Wireless notification systems and methods for electronic rodent traps
AU2016379861A AU2016379861A1 (en) 2012-09-25 2016-12-22 Wireless notification systems and methods for electronic rodent traps
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