US20140309864A1 - Configurable Dash Display Based on Detected Location and Preferences - Google Patents

Configurable Dash Display Based on Detected Location and Preferences Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140309864A1
US20140309864A1 US14/253,022 US201414253022A US2014309864A1 US 20140309864 A1 US20140309864 A1 US 20140309864A1 US 201414253022 A US201414253022 A US 201414253022A US 2014309864 A1 US2014309864 A1 US 2014309864A1
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Prior art keywords
vehicle
user
module
area
system
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Abandoned
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US14/253,022
Inventor
Christopher P. Ricci
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AutoConnect Holdings LLC
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Flextronics AP LLC
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Priority to US201361811981P priority Critical
Priority to US201361865954P priority
Priority to US201361870698P priority
Priority to US201361891217P priority
Priority to US201361904205P priority
Priority to US201461924572P priority
Priority to US201461926749P priority
Application filed by Flextronics AP LLC filed Critical Flextronics AP LLC
Priority to US14/253,022 priority patent/US20140309864A1/en
Assigned to FLEXTRONICS AP, LLC reassignment FLEXTRONICS AP, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: RICCI, CHRISTOPHER P.
Publication of US20140309864A1 publication Critical patent/US20140309864A1/en
Assigned to AUTOCONNECT HOLDINGS LLC reassignment AUTOCONNECT HOLDINGS LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FLEXTRONICS AP, LLC
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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Abstract

A vehicle control system can determine a location of the vehicle and evaluate laws and rules of the location to determine if changes to an instrument display are required. The vehicle control system can automatically configure the instrument display for the location. The vehicle control system can image and translate traffic signs in the location. The vehicle control system can also determine if the location is associated with an interruption of a communication network, identify an alternate communication network, and automatically transfer to the alternate communication network. An alert may be generated by the vehicle control system that includes information related to traffic rules, languages, and communication networks of the location that are different than a previous location of the vehicle.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application claims the benefits of and priority, under 35 U.S.C. §119(e), to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. Nos. 61/811,981, filed on Apr. 15, 2013, entitled “Functional Specification for a Next Generation Automobile”; 61/865,954, filed on Aug. 14, 2013, entitled “Gesture Control of Vehicle Features”; 61/870,698, filed on Aug. 27, 2013, entitled “Gesture Control and User Profiles Associated with Vehicle Features”; 61/891,217, filed on Oct. 15, 2013, entitled “Gesture Control and User Profiles Associated with Vehicle Features”; 61/904,205, filed on Nov. 14, 2013, entitled “Gesture Control and User Profiles Associated with Vehicle Features”; 61/924,572, filed on Jan. 7, 2014, entitled “Gesture Control and User Profiles Associated with Vehicle Features”; and 61/926,749, filed on Jan. 13, 2014, entitled “Method and System for Providing Infotainment in a Vehicle.” The entire disclosures of the applications listed above are hereby incorporated by reference, in their entirety, for all that they teach and for all purposes.
  • This application is also related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/420,236, filed on Mar. 14, 2012, entitled, “Configurable Vehicle Console”; Ser. No. 13/420,240, filed on Mar. 14, 2012, entitled “Removable, Configurable Vehicle Console”; Ser. No. 13/462,593, filed on May 2, 2012, entitled “Configurable Dash Display”; Ser. No. 13/462,596, filed on May 2, 2012, entitled “Configurable Heads-Up Dash Display”; Ser. No. 13/679,459, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Comprising Multi-Operating System” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-228); Ser. No. 13/679,234, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Gesture Recognition for On-Board Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-229); Ser. No. 13/679,412, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Application Store for Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-230); Ser. No. 13/679,857, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Sharing Applications/Media Between Car and Phone (Hydroid)” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-231); Ser. No. 13/679,878, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “In-Cloud Connection for Car Multimedia” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-232); Ser. No. 13/679,875, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Music Streaming” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-233); Ser. No. 13/679,676, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Control of Device Features Based on Vehicle State” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-234); Ser. No. 13/678,673, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Insurance Tracking” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-235); Ser. No. 13/678,691, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Law Breaking/Behavior Sensor” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-236); Ser. No. 13/678,699, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Etiquette Suggestion” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-237); Ser. No. 13/678,710, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Parking Space Finder Based on Parking Meter Data” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-238); Ser. No. 13/678,722, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Parking Meter Expired Alert” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-239); Ser. No. 13/678,726, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Object Sensing (Pedestrian Avoidance/Accident Avoidance)” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-240); Ser. No. 13/678,735, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Proximity Warning Relative to Other Cars” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-241); Ser. No. 13/678,745, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Street Side Sensors” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-242); Ser. No. 13/678,753, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Car Location” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-243); Ser. No. 13/679,441, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Universal Bus in the Car” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-244); Ser. No. 13/679,864, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Mobile Hot Spot/Router/Application Share Site or Network” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-245); Ser. No. 13/679,815, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Universal Console Chassis for the Car” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-246); Ser. No. 13/679,476, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Middleware” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-247); Ser. No. 13/679,306, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Method and System for Vehicle Data Collection Regarding Traffic” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-248); Ser. No. 13/679,369, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Method and System for Vehicle Data Collection” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-249); Ser. No. 13/679,680, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Communications Based on Vehicle Diagnostics and Indications” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-250); Ser. No. 13/679,443, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Method and System for Maintaining and Reporting Vehicle Occupant Information” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-251); Ser. No. 13/678,762, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Behavioral Tracking and Vehicle Applications” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-252); Ser. No. 13/679,292, filed Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Branding of Electrically Propelled Vehicles Via the Generation of Specific Operating Output” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-258); Ser. No. 13/679,400, filed Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Climate Control” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-313); Ser. No. 13/840,240, filed on Mar. 15, 2013, entitled “Improvements to Controller Area Network Bus” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-314); Ser. No. 13/678,773, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Location Information Exchange Between Vehicle and Device” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-315); Ser. No. 13/679,887, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “In Car Communication Between Devices” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-316); Ser. No. 13/679,842, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Hardware Unit for Car Systems” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-317); Ser. No. 13/679,204, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Feature Recognition for Configuring a Vehicle Console and Associated Devices” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-318); Ser. No. 13/679,350, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Vehicle Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-412); Ser. No. 13/679,358, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Dash Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-413); Ser. No. 13/679,363, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Heads-Up Dash Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-414); and Ser. No. 13/679,368, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Removable, Configurable Vehicle Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-415). The entire disclosures of the applications listed above are hereby incorporated by reference, in their entirety, for all that they teach and for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Whether using private, commercial, or public transport, the movement of people and/or cargo has become a major industry. In today's interconnected world, daily travel is essential to engaging in commerce. Commuting to and from work can account for a significant portion of a traveler's day. As a result, vehicle manufacturers have begun to focus on making this commute, and other journeys, more enjoyable.
  • Currently, vehicle manufacturers attempt to entice travelers to use a specific conveyance based on any number of features. Most of these features focus on vehicle safety or efficiency. From the addition of safety-restraints, air-bags, and warning systems to more efficient engines, motors, and designs, the vehicle industry has worked to appease the supposed needs of the traveler. Recently, however, vehicle manufactures have shifted their focus to user and passenger comfort as a primary concern. Making an individual more comfortable while travelling instills confidence and pleasure in using a given vehicle, increasing an individual's preference for a given manufacturer and/or vehicle type.
  • One way to instill comfort in a vehicle is to create an environment within the vehicle similar to that of an individual's home. Integrating features in a vehicle that are associated with comfort found in an individual's home can ease a traveler's transition from home to vehicle. Several manufacturers have added comfort features in vehicles such as the following: leather seats, adaptive and/or personal climate control systems, music and media players, ergonomic controls, and, in some cases, Internet connectivity. However, because these manufacturers have added features to a conveyance, they have built comfort around a vehicle and failed to build a vehicle around comfort.
  • SUMMARY
  • There is a need for a vehicle ecosystem, which can integrate both physical and mental comforts, while seamlessly communicating with current electronic devices to result in a totally intuitive and immersive user experience. These and other needs are addressed by the various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations of the present disclosure. Also, while the disclosure is presented in terms of exemplary and optional embodiments, it should be appreciated that individual aspects of the disclosure can be separately claimed.
  • Embodiments include a method for controlling a home automation system by a vehicle control system of a vehicle, the method comprising: identifying, by a microprocessor executable home automation module, at least one occupant of a vehicle; accessing, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, an account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, the account defining at least one home location for the identified vehicle occupant; connecting, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, to a home automation system of one of the at least one home locations; receiving, microprocessor executable home automation module, a state of features of the home automation system; retrieving, microprocessor executable home automation module, from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, arrival settings for features of the home automation system; generating, microprocessor executable home automation module, commands to implement the arrival settings; and sending, microprocessor executable home automation module, the commands to the home automation system.
  • Aspects of the above method include wherein the microprocessor executable home automation module sends a first set of commands to the home automation system at a first time and a second set of commands to the home automation system at a second time. Aspects of the above method include wherein the microprocessor executable home automation module sends the first set of commands to the home automation system when the vehicle is a first distance from the home location, wherein the microprocessor executable home automation module sends the second set of commands when the vehicle is a second distance from the home location, and wherein the first distance is greater than the second distance. Aspects of the above method include wherein the first time and the second time are determined by one of the account of the at least one identified and the microprocessor executable home automation module based at least in part on the state of features of the home automation system. Aspects of the above method include wherein the microprocessor of the vehicle control system determines the first time and the second time. Aspects of the above method include wherein the settings comprise at least one of activating, deactivating, and changing a setting of at least one of an interior light, an exterior light, a security system, an interior entertainment system, an exterior entertainment system, a thermostat, and a door lock of the home automation system. Aspects of the above method include wherein the at least one identified vehicle occupant comprises a first identified vehicle occupant and a second identified vehicle occupant, and further comprising: determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, a conflict between at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant and at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant; determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, a first priority of the first identified vehicle occupant and a second priority of the second identified vehicle occupant; when the first priority is greater than the second priority, generating, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, commands to implement the at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant; and when the second priority is greater than the first priority, generating, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, commands to implement the at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspects of the above method include wherein when the first identified vehicle occupant is identified as a driver the first priority is greater than the second priority.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: receiving, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, a number of occupants in the home location from the home automation system; determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, that the home location is occupied, wherein: during the retrieving, the microprocessor executable home automation module retrieves alternate settings from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant; and during the generating, the microprocessor executable home automation module generates commands to implement the alternate settings.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, one of an audio channel and a video channel presenting a media item to the at least one identified vehicle occupant; and during the generating, generating commands to tune an entertainment system of the home automation system to one of the audio channel and the video channel presenting the media item to the at least one identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise determining, further comprising determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, that a destination of the vehicle is one of a plurality of home locations of the at least one identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: receiving, by the home automation system, the commands; and configuring features of the home automation system in response to receiving the commands.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, that the vehicle is leaving the one of the at least one home locations; connecting, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, to the home automation system of the one of the at least one home locations; receiving, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, the state of features of the home automation system; retrieving, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, departure settings for features of the home automation system; generating, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, commands to implement the departure settings; and sending, by the microprocessor executable home automation module, the commands to the home automation system.
  • Aspects of the above method include wherein identifying the at least one vehicle occupant comprises: identifying facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant via at least one image sensor; determining whether the identified facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant match user characteristics stored in a memory; and when the identified facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, identifying the at least one vehicle occupant further comprises: prompting the at least one vehicle occupant for identification information; receiving identification information from the at least one vehicle occupant; and storing the identification information received from the at least one vehicle occupant in the memory. Aspects of the above method include wherein identifying the at least one vehicle occupant further comprises detecting a device associated with the at least one vehicle occupant in an area of the vehicle.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include a vehicle control system, comprising: identify at least one occupant of the vehicle; access an account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, the account defining at least one home location for the identified vehicle occupant; connect to a home automation system of one of the at least one home locations; receive a state of features of the home automation system; retrieve, from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, arrival settings for features of the home automation system; generate a first set of commands and a second set of commands to implement the arrival settings; send the first set of commands to the home automation system when the vehicle is a first distance from the home location; and send the second set of commands to the home automation system when the vehicle is a second distance from the home location, wherein the first distance is greater than the second distance.
  • Aspects of the above system include wherein the microprocessor is further operable to: identify a first vehicle occupant and a second vehicle occupant; determine a conflict between at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant and at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant; determine a first priority of the first identified vehicle occupant and a second priority of the second identified vehicle occupant; when the first priority is greater than the second priority, generate commands to implement the at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant; and when the second priority is greater than the first priority, generate commands to implement the at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspects of the above system include wherein the microprocessor sends a first set of commands to the home automation system at a first time and a second set of commands to the home automation system at a second time. Aspects of the above system include wherein the microprocessor sends the first set of commands to the home automation system when the vehicle is a first distance from the home location, wherein the microprocessor sends the second set of commands when the vehicle is a second distance from the home location, and wherein the first distance is greater than the second distance. Aspects of the above system include wherein the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant defines the first time and the second time. Aspects of the above system include wherein the microprocessor of the vehicle control system determines the first time and the second time. Aspects of the above system include wherein the settings comprise at least one of activating, deactivating, and changing a setting of at least one of an interior light, an exterior light, a security system, an interior entertainment system, an exterior entertainment system, a thermostat, and a door lock of the home automation system. Aspects of the above system include wherein the at least one identified vehicle occupant comprises a first identified vehicle occupant and a second identified vehicle occupant, and further the microprocessor further operable to: determine a conflict between at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant and at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant; determine a first priority of the first identified vehicle occupant and a second priority of the second identified vehicle occupant; when the first priority is greater than the second priority, generate commands to implement the at least one setting of the first identified vehicle occupant; and when the second priority is greater than the first priority, generate, commands to implement the at least one setting of the second identified vehicle occupant. Aspects of the above system include wherein when the first identified vehicle occupant is identified as a driver the first priority is greater than the second priority.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: receive a number of occupants in the home location from the home automation system; determine that the home location is occupied, wherein during the retrieving, the microprocessor retrieves alternate settings from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant; and during the generating, the microprocessor generates commands to implement the alternate settings.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: determine one of an audio channel and a video channel presenting a media item to the at least one identified vehicle occupant; and during the generating, generate commands to tune an entertainment system of the home automation system to one of the audio channel and the video channel presenting the media item to the at least one identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: determine that a destination of the vehicle is one of a plurality of home locations of the at least one identified vehicle occupant.
  • Aspect of the system above further comprising: receiving, by the home automation system, the commands; and configuring features of the home automation system in response to receiving the commands.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: determine that the vehicle is leaving the home location; connect to the home automation system of the home location; receive the state of features of the home automation system; retrieve from the account of the at least one identified vehicle occupant, departure settings for features of the home automation system; generate commands to implement the departure settings; and send the commands to the home automation system.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein identifying the at least one vehicle occupant further comprises the microprocessor: identifying facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant via the at least one image sensor; determining whether the identified facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant match user characteristics stored in the memory; and when the identified facial features associated with the at least one vehicle occupant do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, identifying the at least one vehicle occupant further comprises: prompting the at least one vehicle occupant for identification information; receiving identification information from the at least one vehicle occupant; and storing the identification information received from the at least one vehicle occupant in the memory.
  • Aspects of the above system include wherein identifying the at least one vehicle occupant further comprises detecting a device associated with the at least one vehicle occupant in an area of the vehicle.
  • Embodiments include a method, comprising: determining, by a microprocessor executable home automation system, that a person has entered a home associated with a vehicle user; sending, by the microprocessor executable home automation system, an alert to a vehicle control system indicating the person has entered the home.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: monitoring, by the microprocessor executable home automation system, the status of the person in the home; determining, by the microprocessor executable home automation system, that the status of the person has changed; and sending, by the microprocessor executable home automation system, a status alert to the vehicle control system.
  • Aspects of the method above further include wherein the microprocessor executable home automation system determines at least one of: the person can be identified and the status alert includes the name of the person; the person cannot be identified and the status alert includes an intruder alert; the person is leaving the home and the status alert includes one of an estimated time the person will leave the home and the time the person has left the home; the person is asleep and the status alert indicates that the person is asleep; the person is experiencing a health crisis and the status alert includes information about the health crisis; and the person has entered an area of the home the person is not authorized to enter and the status alert includes information about the location in the home of the person.
  • Aspects of the method above further include: wherein the microprocessor executable home automation system determines the person is experiencing the health crisis using information from at least one of a sensor of the home automation system and a device worn by the person; wherein the information from the sensor is a call for help from the person; wherein the device worn by the person is at least one of a heart rate monitor, a blood pressure monitor, a glucose monitor, and medical alert device activated by the person; wherein the sensor of the home automation system includes one or more of an interior motion sensor, an exterior motion sensor, an interior camera, an exterior camera, an interior sound receiver, an exterior sound receiver, an infrared sensor, a weight sensor, a biometric sensor, a device worn by the person, a Bluetooth sensor, a radio frequency signal sensor, and a door motion sensor; wherein the alert includes one or more of an identity of the person, a picture of the person, a voice recording of the person, a time the person entered the home, and a location of the person in the home; and wherein the person includes a plurality of persons and the microprocessor sends an alert to the vehicle control system for each of the plurality of persons;
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: sending, by the microprocessor executable home automation system, the alert to one or more of a cell phone, a laptop, a tablet computer, and a personal digital assistant.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: sending, by the microprocessor, the occupant alert to one or more of a cell phone, a laptop, a tablet computer, and a personal digital assistant; and presenting, by the vehicle control system, the occupant alert to a user in the vehicle.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include a home automation system, comprising: a memory; and a microprocessor in communication with the memory, the microprocessor operable to: determine that a person has entered a home associated with a vehicle user; send an alert to a vehicle control system indicating the person has entered the home.
  • Aspects of the above system further include the microprocessor further operable to: monitor a status of the person in the home; determine that the status of the person has changed; and send a status alert to the vehicle control system, wherein: when the person can be identified the status alert includes the name of the person; when the person cannot be identified the status alert includes an intruder alert; when the person is leaving the home the status alert includes one of an estimated time the person will leave the home and the time the person has left the home; when the person is asleep and status alert indicates that the person is asleep; when the person is experiencing a health crisis and status alert includes information about the health crisis; and when the person has entered an area of the home the person is not authorized to enter and status alert includes information about the location in the home of the person.
  • Aspects of the above system further include the microprocessor further operable to receive information from at least one sensor, wherein the at least one sensor includes one or more of an interior motion sensor, an exterior motion sensor, an interior camera, an exterior camera, an interior sound receiver, an exterior sound receiver, an infrared sensor, a weight sensor, a biometric sensor, a device worn by the person, a Bluetooth sensor, a radio frequency signal sensor, and a door motion sensor.
  • Aspects of the above system include: wherein the alert includes one or more of an identity of the person, a picture of the person, a voice recording of the person, a time the person entered the home, and a location of the person in the home.
  • Embodiments include a method, comprising: displaying, by a dash configuration module, in a first area, an instrument display of a vehicle in a first configuration, wherein the instrument display comprises one or more instruments that indicate a state of the vehicle; determining, by a traffic law module, that a second configuration of the instrument display is required in a second area, the first and second configurations being different; determining, by the dash configuration module, that the vehicle has entered, or is about to enter, the second area; and in response, displaying the instrument display in the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the method above further include: wherein the instrument display comprises at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display, wherein the first configuration and the second configuration display the same vehicle state information, and wherein the second configuration of the instrument display is selected from one or more preconfigured instrument display configurations; wherein the configurable dash display comprises at least one instrument not displayed by the heads-up display; wherein the one or more instruments include at least one of a speedometer, an odometer, a tachometer, a trip odometer, a fuel gage, a coolant temperature gage, and a battery charge meter; wherein the second configuration includes at least one instrument not displayed by the first configuration, wherein determining that the second configuration of the instrument display is required includes changing at least one of: a size; a scale; a unit of measure to one of metric units and non-metric units; and a language of at least one instrument displayed in the first configuration; and wherein the first configuration includes at least one instrument not displayed by the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: presenting, by an alert module, an alert on at least one of an instrument display and a communication device, wherein the alert includes information about traffic rules of the second area that are different than traffic rules of the first area, and wherein the alert includes information about the differences between the first configuration and the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: retrieving, by the traffic law module, one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations for the second area from an external memory of the vehicle, wherein the traffic law module determines that the second configuration of the instrument display is required in the second area by interpreting the one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations applicable in the second area.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: determining, by the traffic law module, that the vehicle is approaching the second area, wherein the microprocessor determines that the vehicle is approaching the second area after a least one of receiving one or more signals sent from a plurality of sensing elements associated with the vehicle, receiving a location of the vehicle from a vehicle navigation system, receiving the location of the vehicle from a communication device, and receiving a destination of the vehicle entered into the vehicle navigation system; and selecting, by the dash configuration module, the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the above method further comprise: receiving, by the traffic law module, one or more signals sent from a plurality of sensing elements associated with the vehicle; retrieving, by the traffic law module, rules that define a plurality of signal conditions corresponding to the plurality of emergency events; interpreting, by the traffic law module, the one or more signals using the rules to determine that one of a plurality of emergency events has occurred; and automatically displaying, by an alert module, an emergency alert on the instrument display.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the emergency event comprises one of: the vehicle travelling in a wrong direction in a lane of a road; the vehicle travelling in a wrong lane of the road; the vehicle travelling in a restricted lane of the road; and the vehicle travelling too fast.
  • Aspect of the above method further include: determining, by the traffic law module, that a second language is used in the second area; imaging, by one or more sensors of the vehicle, road signs in the second area; translating, by a traffic sign translation module, the imaged road signs into the first language of the first area; and displaying the text of the translated road sign on the instrument display.
  • Aspects of the above method further include: determining, by a network monitoring module, that at least one of data rate and voice rates charged by a service provider will change in the second area; determining, by the network monitoring module, if an alternate provider is available in the second area; providing, by an alert module, an alert to a driver of the vehicle, wherein the alert includes information associated with: the change of the at least one data rate and voice rate in the second area; a way to maximize data and voice usage in the second area; and the alternate provider; and switching, by the network monitoring module, to the alternate provider.
  • Aspects of the above method further include: determining, by the network monitoring module, that the second area is associated with an interruption of service for at least one of a data provider and a voice provider; determining, by the network monitoring module, if an alternate provider is available in the second area associated with the interruption of service; providing, by an alert module, an alert to a driver of the vehicle, wherein the alert includes information associated with: the interruption of service; and the alternate provider; and switching, by the network monitoring module, to the alternate provider. Aspects of the above method include wherein the communication device is not within the vehicle, and wherein the communication device comprises one or more of a smart phone, a laptop, and a computer.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include vehicle control system of a vehicle, comprising: a memory; and a microprocessor in communication with the memory, the microprocessor operable to: display, in a first area, an instrument display of the vehicle in a first configuration, wherein the instrument display comprises one or more instruments that indicate a state of the vehicle; retrieve one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations for the second area; determine that a second configuration of the instrument display is required in a second area based on the one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations for the second area, the first and second configurations being different; determine that the vehicle has entered, or is about to enter, the second area; and display the instrument display in the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the above system include wherein the microprocessor is further operable to: receive one or more signals sent from a plurality of sensing elements associated with the vehicle; retrieve rules that define a plurality of signal conditions corresponding to the plurality of emergency events; interpret the one or more signals using the rules to determine that one of a plurality of emergency events has occurred; and automatically display an emergency alert on the instrument display.
  • Aspects of the above system include: wherein the instrument display comprises at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display; wherein the configurable dash display comprises at least one instrument not displayed by the heads-up display; wherein the second configuration of the instrument display is selected from one or more preconfigured instrument display configurations; wherein the one or more instruments include at least one of a speedometer, an odometer, a tachometer, a trip odometer, a fuel gage, a coolant temperature gage, and a battery charge meter; wherein the second configuration includes at least one instrument not displayed by the first configuration; wherein the first configuration includes at least one instrument not displayed by the second configuration; wherein determining that the second configuration of the instrument display is required includes adjusting a size of at least one instrument displayed in the first configuration; wherein determining that the second configuration of the instrument display is required includes adjusting a scale of at least one instrument displayed in the first configuration; wherein determining that the second configuration of the instrument display is required includes changing a unit of measure of at least one instrument displayed in the first configuration to one of metric units and non-metric units; wherein determining that the second configuration of the instrument display is required includes changing a language of at least one instrument displayed in the first configuration to a required language of the second area; wherein the alert includes information about traffic rules of the second area that are different than traffic rules of the first area; and wherein the alert includes information about the differences between the first configuration and the second configuration.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor operable to: receive one or more signals sent from a plurality of sensing elements associated with the vehicle; interpret the one or more signals to determine that one of a plurality of emergency events has occurred, wherein the interpreting further comprises referring to the memory of the vehicle control system, wherein the memory stores rules that define a plurality of signal conditions corresponding to the plurality of emergency events, and wherein the emergency event comprises one of the vehicle travelling in a wrong direction in a lane of a road, the vehicle travelling in a wrong lane of the road, the vehicle travelling in a restricted lane of the road, and the vehicle travelling too fast; and, after determining that an emergency event has occurred, automatically displaying an emergency alert on the instrument display.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor operable to: determine that a second language is used in the second area; image, by one or more sensors of the vehicle, road signs in the second area; translate the imaged road signs into the first language of the first area; and display the text of the translated road sign on the instrument display.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor operable to: determine that at least one of data rate and voice rates charged by a service provider will change in the second area; determine if an alternate provider is available in the second area; and before the vehicle enters the second area, provide an alert to a driver of the vehicle, wherein the alert includes information about: the change of the at least one data rate and voice rate in the second area; a way to maximize data and voice usage in the second area; and the alternate provider. Aspects of the system above further comprise switching, by the microprocessor, to the alternate provider.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor operable to: determine that the second area is associated with an interruption of service for at least one of a data provider and a voice provider; determine if an alternate provider is available in the second area associated with the interruption of service; and before the vehicle enters the second area associated with the interruption of service, provide an alert to a driver of the vehicle, wherein the alert includes information about: the interruption of service; and the alternate provider. Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor operable to switch to the alternate provider.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the micro-processor further operable to download the one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations for the second area to from an external memory of the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise: wherein the microprocessor determines that the second configuration of the instrument display is required in the second area by accessing one or more traffic laws and vehicle regulations applicable in the second area; wherein the microprocessor determines that the vehicle is approaching the second area after a least one of receiving one or more signals sent from a plurality of sensing elements associated with the vehicle, receiving a location of the vehicle from a vehicle navigation system, and receiving a destination of the vehicle entered into the vehicle navigation system; wherein the first configuration and the second configuration display the same vehicle state information; and wherein the communication device is not within the vehicle, and wherein the communication device comprises one or more of a smart phone, a laptop, and a computer.
  • Embodiments include a method, comprising: receiving, by a microprocessor executable vehicle environment module of a vehicle, one or more signals from a plurality of sensing elements respecting an environment external to the vehicle; interpreting, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, the one or more signals to determine if at least one predetermined environmental condition exists; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, that the predetermined environmental condition exists; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, a severity of the predetermined environmental condition using one or more of rules and templates in a memory; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, if control of one or more vehicle functions is required based on the determined severity; displaying an alert on an instrument display of the vehicle; and performing the one or more vehicle functions, wherein the one or more vehicle functions is at least one of activating vehicle head-lights, activating vehicle fog lights, changing a brake system mode, changing a steering system mode, changing a setting of collision avoidance system, changing a setting of an automatic response system, activating a traffic sign translation system, activating an automobile controller, and deactivating multimedia and infotainment systems within the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the method above include: wherein the instrument display comprises at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display; wherein the alert is selected from one or more preconfigured environmental condition alerts, and wherein the one or more preconfigured environmental condition alerts comprise one or more of a maximum safe speed to drive, a recommended speed to drive, a fog warning, an ice warning, a snow warning, a water on road warning, an object in road warning, a flood warning, and a high wind warning.
  • Aspects of the method above include wherein changing the braking mode includes changing the function of brakes of the vehicle based on the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the steering mode includes changing the responsiveness of a steering system of the vehicle based on the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the setting of collision avoidance system comprises selecting a collision avoidance system setting associated with the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the setting of an automatic response system comprises selecting a automatic response system setting associated with the predetermined environmental condition; and wherein activating the automobile controller comprises the vehicle control system controlling the vehicle and bringing the vehicle to a stop in a safe location.
  • Aspects of the method above include: wherein the plurality of sensing elements includes sensors associated with the vehicle, non-vehicle sensors, information from communication networks, and information from a communication device; wherein sensors associated with the vehicle include one or more of optical sensors, light sensors, photo sensors, inductive sensors, infra-red sensors, thermometers, moisture sensors, wind sensors, wheel state sensors, force sensors, capacitive sensors, laser-based sensors, radar, lidar, ladar, acoustic-type sensors, and a communications module; and wherein non-vehicle sensors include one or more of sensors located: in a road, adjacent to the road; and in a plurality of other vehicles.
  • Aspects of the method above include: wherein the vehicle is privately owned and is not operated by a government; and wherein performing one or more vehicle functions comprises at least one of changing a sensitivity of the steering system, changing a response time of the brake system, and limiting a range of motion of a steering wheel.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise activating a traffic sign translation module and displaying traffic sign information on at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display.
  • Aspects of the method above include wherein the interpreting further comprises referring to the rules and templates in the memory of the vehicle control system, and wherein rules and templates define a plurality of signal conditions corresponding to the plurality of predetermined environmental conditions.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: sending the alert to a communication device associated with a user, wherein the user is not located in the vehicle, and wherein the communication device is one of a cell phone, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, and a personal digital assistant; modifying, by the user, at least one of the rules and templates in the memory of the vehicle control system using the communication device; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, a new determined severity of the predetermined environmental condition using one or more of the modified rules and templates; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, if control of one or more additional vehicle functions is required based on the new determined severity; and performing the one or more additional vehicle functions.
  • Aspects of the above method further comprise: determining an identity of a driver of the vehicle; accessing, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, rules and templates associated with the identified driver; interpreting, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, the one or more signals based at least partially on the rules and templates associated with the identified driver to determine if at least one predetermined environmental condition exists; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, the severity of the predetermined environmental condition using the rules and templates associated with the identified driver; determining, by the microprocessor executable vehicle environment module, if control of one or more vehicle functions is required based on the determined severity; displaying the alert on the instrument display of the vehicle; and performing the one or more vehicle functions.
  • Aspects of the method above further include wherein the identified driver is less than 16 years old and the rules prohibit the identified driver from operating the vehicle at night; wherein the rules prohibit the identified driver from operating the vehicle in a low traction condition associated with one or more of ice and snow on a road surface.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include a vehicle control system of a vehicle, comprising: a memory; and a microprocessor in communication with the memory, the microprocessor operable to: receive one or more signals from a plurality of sensing elements respecting an environment external to the vehicle; interpret the one or more signals to determine if at least one predetermined environmental condition exists; determine that the predetermined environmental condition exists; determine a severity of the predetermined environmental condition using one or more of rules and templates in a memory of the vehicle control system; determine if control of one or more vehicle functions is required based on the determined severity; display an alert on an instrument display of the vehicle; and perform the one or more vehicle functions, wherein the one or more vehicle functions is at least one of activating vehicle head-lights, activating vehicle fog lights, changing a brake system mode, changing a steering system mode, changing a setting of collision avoidance system, changing a setting of an automatic response system, activating a traffic sign translation system, activating an automobile controller, and deactivating multimedia and infotainment systems within the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the above system include: wherein the plurality of sensing elements includes sensors associated with the vehicle, non-vehicle sensors, information from communication networks, and information from a communication device; wherein sensors associated with the vehicle include one or more of optical sensors, light sensors, photo sensors, inductive sensors, infra-red sensors, thermometers, moisture sensors, wind sensors, wheel state sensors, force sensors, capacitive sensors, laser-based sensors, radar, lidar, ladar, acoustic-type sensors, and a communications module; and wherein non-vehicle sensors include one or more of sensors located: in a road, adjacent to the road; and in a plurality of other vehicles.
  • Aspects of the above system include: wherein changing the braking mode includes changing the function of brakes of the vehicle based on the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the steering mode includes changing the responsiveness of a steering system of the vehicle based on the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the setting of collision avoidance system comprises selecting a collision avoidance system setting associated with the predetermined environmental condition; wherein changing the setting of an automatic response system comprises selecting a automatic response system setting associated with the predetermined environmental condition; and wherein activating the automobile controller comprises the vehicle control system controlling the vehicle and bringing the vehicle to a stop in a safe location.
  • Aspects of the above system include: wherein the plurality of sensing elements includes sensors associated with the vehicle, non-vehicle sensors, information from communication networks, and information from a communication device; wherein sensors associated with the vehicle include one or more of optical sensors, light sensors, photo sensors, inductive sensors, infra-red sensors, thermometers, moisture sensors, wind sensors, wheel state sensors, force sensors, capacitive sensors, laser-based sensors, radar, lidar, ladar, acoustic-type sensors, and a communications module; wherein non-vehicle sensors include one or more of sensors located: in a road, adjacent to the road; and in a plurality of other vehicles; and wherein the vehicle is privately owned and is not operated by a government.
  • Aspect of the above system include: wherein performing one or more vehicle functions comprises at least one of changing a sensitivity of the steering system, changing a response time of the brake system, and limiting a range of motion of a steering wheel; and wherein the interpreting further comprises referring to the rules and templates in the memory of the vehicle control system, and wherein rules and templates define a plurality of signal conditions corresponding to the plurality of predetermined environmental conditions.
  • Aspects of the above system further comprise the microprocessor operable to activate a traffic sign translation module and displaying traffic sign information on at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display.
  • Aspects of the above system further comprise the microprocessor operable to: modify at least one of the rules and templates in the memory of the vehicle control system using the communication device, wherein the user is not located in the vehicle, and wherein the communication device is one of a cell phone, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, and a personal digital assistant; determine a new severity of the predetermined environmental condition using one or more of the modified rules and templates; determine if control of one or more additional vehicle functions is required based on the new severity and the modified rules and templates; and perform the one or more additional vehicle functions.
  • Aspects of the above system further comprise the microprocessor operable to: determine an identity of the driver of the vehicle; access rules and templates associated with the identified driver; interpret the one or more signals based at least partially on the rules and templates associated with the identified driver to determine if at least one predetermined environmental condition exists; determine the severity of the predetermined environmental condition using the rules and templates associated with the identified driver; determine if control of one or more vehicle functions is required based on the severity and the rules and the templates associated with the identified driver; display the alert on the instrument display of the vehicle and the communication device associated with the user; and perform the one or more vehicle functions.
  • Aspect of the above system include: wherein the identified driver is less than 16 years old and the rules prohibit the identified driver from operating the vehicle at night; and wherein the rules prohibit the identified driver from operating the vehicle in a low traction condition associated with one or more of ice and snow on a road surface.
  • Embodiments include a method, comprising: determining, by a microprocessor executable fee area module, that a vehicle is approaching a fee area; retrieving, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, rules associated with the fee area, wherein the fee area comprises one of a toll road, a high occupancy vehicle road, a park, a vehicle ferry, and a parking area; determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, a fee required for the vehicle to enter the fee area based on the rules; displaying an alert on an instrument display of the vehicle, wherein the instrument display comprises at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display; accessing, by a microprocessor executable payment module, a payment profile for the vehicle; connecting to a server of the fee area; and sending, by the microprocessor executable payment module, instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the fee area is one of the toll road, the high occupancy vehicle road, and the vehicle ferry; and wherein the rules associated with the fee area comprise one or more of a rate charged per mile, a rate charged per unit of time, a rate based on a number of occupants in the vehicle, a rate based on a weight of the vehicle, a rate based on a number of axles of the vehicle, a rate based on an emission level of the vehicle, a rate based on a time of the day, and a rate based on a congestion level of the fee area; and wherein the rules associated with the fee area are retrieved from one or more of a communications device, a cloud, another vehicle, and the server of the fee area.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the connection to the server of the fee area is at least partially encrypted; wherein sending instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee further comprises creating, by the microprocessor executable payment module, a payment account with the server of the pay area; wherein the payment account is associated with the vehicle; and wherein in response to sending instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required, receiving, by the microprocessor executable payment module, a confirmation of access into the fee area; and wherein the payment profile of the vehicle includes at least one of a credit card number, a debit card number, a bank account number, and a payment account number associated with the fee area.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the fee area is the high occupancy vehicle road, wherein the rules require a minimum number of occupants to be inside the vehicle to drive in the high occupancy vehicle road to avoid paying a penalty, and wherein the method further comprises: determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, a number of occupants in the vehicle; determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, a fee required for the vehicle to enter the high occupancy vehicle road based on the number of occupants in the vehicle, wherein the fee includes the penalty if less than the required minimum number of occupants are in the vehicle; and sending, by the microprocessor executable payment module, the number of occupants in the vehicle and instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, an identity of a driver of the vehicle, wherein determining the identity of the driver further comprises: identifying facial features associated with the driver detected via at least one image sensor; and determining whether the identified facial features associated with the driver match user characteristics stored in a memory.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise: wherein the identified facial features associated with the driver do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, and wherein determining the identity of the driver further comprises: prompting the driver for identification information; receiving identification information from the driver; and storing the identification information received from the driver in the memory.
  • Aspects of the method above further include wherein the identified facial features associated with the driver match the user characteristics stored in the memory, and wherein the payment profile is retrieved from a profile associated with the identified driver.
  • Aspects of the method above further comprise sending an alert to a communication device of an owner of the vehicle. Aspects of the method above further comprise determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, one or more alternate routes to a destination of the vehicle; determining, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, a cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination; and displaying, by the microprocessor executable fee area module, the cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination in the alert.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include a vehicle control system of a vehicle, comprising: a memory; and a microprocessor in communication with the memory, the microprocessor operable to: determine that a vehicle is approaching a fee area; retrieve rules associated with the fee area, wherein the fee area comprises one of a toll road, a high occupancy vehicle road, a park, a vehicle ferry, and a parking area; determine a fee required for the vehicle to enter the fee area based on the rules; display an alert on an instrument display of the vehicle, wherein the instrument display comprises at least one of a configurable dash display and a heads-up display; access a payment profile for the vehicle; connect to a server of the fee area; and send instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein the microprocessor is further operable to: determine if a discount applies to the vehicle, wherein the discount comprises one or more of a senior discount, a handicapped driver discount, a frequent user discount, a fuel-efficiency discount, and a discount based on a number of people in the vehicle; determine one or more alternate routes to a destination of the vehicle; determine a cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination; display the cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination in the alert; and send an alert to a communication device of an owner of the vehicle, wherein the owner is not located within the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the system above include: wherein the fee area is one of the toll road, the high occupancy vehicle road, and the vehicle ferry; wherein the rules associated with the fee area comprise one or more of a rate charged per mile, a rate charged per unit of time, a rate based on a number of occupants in the vehicle, a rate based on a weight of the vehicle, a rate based on a number of axles of the vehicle, a rate based on an emission level of the vehicle, a rate based on a time of the day, and a rate based on a congestion level of the fee area; wherein the rules associated with the fee area are retrieved from one or more of a communications device, a cloud, another vehicle, and the server of the fee area; wherein the connection to the server of the fee area is at least partially encrypted; wherein sending instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee further comprises creating a payment account with the server of the pay area; and wherein, in response to sending instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required, receiving a confirmation of access into the fee area.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein the fee area is the high occupancy vehicle road, wherein the rules require a minimum number of occupants to be inside the vehicle to drive in the high occupancy vehicle road to avoid paying a penalty, and the micro-processor further operable to: determine a number of occupants in the vehicle; determine a fee required for the vehicle to enter the high occupancy vehicle road based on the number of occupants in the vehicle, wherein the fee includes the penalty if less than the required minimum number of occupants are in the vehicle; and sending the number of occupants in the vehicle and instructions to the server of the fee area to pay the fee required.
  • Aspects of the system above include the micro-processor further operable to: determine an identity of a driver of the vehicle, wherein determining the identity of the driver further comprises: identifying facial features associated with the driver detected via at least one image sensor; and determine whether the identified facial features associated with the driver match user characteristics stored in a memory.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein the identified facial features associated with the driver do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, and wherein determining the identity of the driver further comprises to micro-processor operable to: prompt the driver for identification information; receive identification information from the driver; and store the identification information received from the driver in the memory.
  • Aspects of the system above include: wherein the identified facial features associated with the driver match the user characteristics stored in the memory; and wherein the payment profile is retrieved from a profile associated with the identified driver.
  • Aspects of the system above include the micro-processor further operable to: send an alert to a communication device of an owner of the vehicle, wherein the owner is not located within the vehicle; determine one or more alternate routes to a destination of the vehicle; determine a cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination; and display the cost of using each of the one or more alternate routes to the destination in the alert.
  • Aspects of the system above include the micro-processor further operable to: determine if a discount applies to the vehicle, wherein the discount comprises one or more of a senior discount, a handicapped driver discount, a frequent user discount, a fuel-efficiency discount, and a discount based on a number of people in the vehicle.
  • Embodiments include a method, comprising: connecting, by a microprocessor executable destination coordination module of a first vehicle, to one or more devices, wherein the devices are at least one of: (a) in a different second vehicle; and (b) carried by a person not in the first vehicle; determining, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, a common destination for the first vehicle and the one or more devices; receiving, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, position information from each of the one or more devices; generating, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, directions to the common destination for each of the one or more devices; and sending the directions to each of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the above method further comprise: determining, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, that at least one of the one or more devices is travelling to an incorrect destination; and sending an alert and directions to the correct destination to the at least one of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the above method include wherein determining the common destination comprises receiving an input from a user in the first vehicle, wherein the input comprises one of: entering the common destination in a vehicle navigation system; entering the common destination in a communication device in communication with the vehicle; and describing the common destination in one of a text message, an email message, and a phone conversation addressed to the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the above method further comprise: receiving, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, updated position information from at least one of the one or more devices; and comparing, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, the updated position information of the at least one of the one or more devices to the common destination; generating, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, updated directions to the common destination for the least one of the one or more devices; and sending the updated directions to the least one of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the updated directions comprise spoken directions that are updated as the at least one of the one or more devices travels to the common destination; wherein the one or more devices comprise one or more of a communication device, a smart phone, a laptop, and a vehicle control system of the second vehicle.
  • Aspects of the above method further comprise: determining, by the microprocessor executable destination coordination module, a presence of a user inside the first vehicle, wherein determining the presence of the user inside the first vehicle further comprises detecting the user via at least one image sensor associated with the first vehicle; determining an identity of the user, wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises: identifying facial features associated with the user detected via the at least one image sensor; and determining whether the identified facial features associated with the user match user characteristics stored in a memory.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein the identified facial features associated with the user do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, and wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises: prompting the user for identification information; receiving identification information from the user; and storing the identification information received from the user in the memory.
  • Aspects of the above method include: wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises detecting a device associated with the user in the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the above method include wherein the common destination is a location of one of the communication device, the smart phone, the laptop, and the second vehicle. Aspects of the above method include wherein the common destination is a location of the first vehicle.
  • Embodiments include a non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform operations comprising the above methods. Embodiments include a device, means, and/or system configured to perform the above methods.
  • Embodiments include a vehicle control system of a vehicle, comprising: a memory; and a microprocessor in communication with the memory, the microprocessor operable to: connect to one or more devices, wherein the devices are at least one of (a) in a different second vehicle and (b) carried by a person not in the vehicle; determine a common destination for the vehicle and the one or more devices; receive position information from each of the one or more devices; generate directions to the common destination for each of the one or more devices; and send the directions to each of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to determine that at least one of the one or more devices is travelling to an incorrect destination; and send an alert and directions to the correct destination to the at least one of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to receive updated position information from at least one of the one or more devices; generate updated directions to the common destination for the least one of the one or more devices; send the updated directions to the least one of the one or more devices; and compare the updated position information of the at least one of the one or more devices to the common destination.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein the one or more devices comprise one or more of a communication device, a smart phone, a laptop, and a vehicle control system of the second vehicle; and wherein the common destination is a location of one of the communication device, the smart phone, the laptop, the vehicle, and the second different vehicle.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: generate updated directions to the common destination for the least one of the one or more devices; and send the updated directions to the least one of the one or more devices.
  • Aspects of the system above include: wherein the updated directions comprise spoken directions that are updated as the at least one of the one or more devices travels to the common destination; and wherein the one or more devices comprise one or more of a communication device, a smart phone, a laptop, and a vehicle control system of a second vehicle.
  • Aspects of the system above further comprise the microprocessor operable to: determine a presence of a user inside the first vehicle, wherein determining the presence of the user inside the first vehicle further comprises detecting the user via at least one image sensor associated with the first vehicle; determine an identity of the user, wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises: identifying facial features associated with the user detected via the at least one image sensor; and determine whether the identified facial features associated with the user match user characteristics stored in a memory.
  • Aspects of the system above include: wherein the identified facial features associated with the user do not match the user characteristics stored in the memory, and wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises: prompting the user for identification information; receiving identification information from the user; and storing the identification information received from the user in the memory.
  • Aspects of the system above include wherein determining the identity of the user further comprises detecting a device associated with the user in the vehicle.
  • Aspects of the above system include wherein the common destination is a location of one of the communication device, the smart phone, the laptop, and the second vehicle. Aspects of the above method include wherein the common destination is a location of the first vehicle.
  • The present disclosure can provide a number of advantages depending on the particular aspect, embodiment, and/or configuration. One advantage includes providing user profiles with settings, configurations, and information associated with a user. The settings can be transferred by a user from vehicle-to-vehicle, from communication device-to-communication device, from building-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-building, and/or combinations thereof. The profiles can serves as a repository for user information and preferences. The profiles can be used to configure settings of a home automation system associated with the user and devices controlled thereby. The profiles can also be used by the vehicle to determine when to initiate a connection to a home automation system to receive information about occupants in the home and the settings of the home automation system and features thereof.
  • Another advantage includes a system that can determine the location of the vehicle and configure a vehicle dash and/or other displays of the vehicle to present instruments and information in a form and language required in the location where the vehicle is located. This can include adding, removing, and rearranging instruments on one or more vehicle displays. The system can also provide alerts to a driver or other users about different traffic laws that apply where the vehicle is located. The alerts can include warnings, and/or control of vehicle functions, when the vehicle determines that the vehicle is not operated in accordance with the traffic laws.
  • Yet another advantage is a system that can monitor quality, performance, and capabilities of communications networks. The system can determine interruptions, coverage gaps, and rate changes of communications systems and determine other available and accessible communication networks. The system can provide alerts to a user and provide recommendations on efficient use of communications networks. Additionally, accessible and available communication networks can be ranked based at least partially on rules and the system can select an alternate communication network either automatically or after receiving a user selection.
  • Further advantages include a system that monitors the operating environment of the vehicle. The system can determine the presence of one or more environmental conditions and provide alerts to the driver and other users. Additionally, the system can characterize the severity of the environmental condition and determine a response. Based at least in part on the environmental condition and the severity of the condition, the system can change vehicle settings and may activate or deactivate one or more vehicle features. Further, the system can reassess the severity of the condition based at least in part on the driver's response and take further control measures, including taking control of the vehicle's steering system and engine to bring the vehicle to a stop in a safe location.
  • Still another advantage includes a system that can automatically pay fees associated with a fee area, including toll roads, high occupancy vehicle lanes or roads, parking, and the like. The system can determine required fees and connect to computer systems associated with the fee areas. Alerts can be provided to the user regarding the presence of the fee area and potential alternate routes to avoid the fee area. The system can also locate, reserve, and pay for vehicle parking based at least in part on preferences of the user.
  • Additional advantages include a system that can coordinate the arrival of one or more users travelling separately to a common destination. The system can send alerts to users that are determined to be travelling to an incorrect destination. The alert can include instructions and directions to reach the common destination. These and other advantages will be apparent from the disclosure.
  • The phrases “at least one,” “one or more,” and “and/or” are open-ended expressions that are both conjunctive and disjunctive in operation. For example, each of the expressions “at least one of A, B and C,” “at least one of A, B, or C,” “one or more of A, B, and C,” “one or more of A, B, or C” and “A, B, and/or C” means A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, or A, B and C together.
  • The term “a” or “an” entity refers to one or more of that entity. As such, the terms “a” (or “an”), “one or more,” and “at least one” can be used interchangeably herein. It is also to be noted that the terms “comprising,” “including,” and “having” can be used interchangeably.
  • The term “automatic” and variations thereof, as used herein, refer to any process or operation done without material human input when the process or operation is performed. However, a process or operation can be automatic, even though performance of the process or operation uses material or immaterial human input, if the input is received before the performance of the process or operation. Human input is deemed to be material if such input influences how the process or operation will be performed. Human input that consents to the performance of the process or operation is not deemed to be “material.”
  • The term “automotive navigation system” can refer to a satellite navigation system designed for use in vehicles. It typically uses a GPS navigation device to acquire position data to locate the user on a road in the unit's map database. Using the road database, the unit can give directions to other locations along roads also in its database. Dead reckoning using distance data from sensors attached to the drivetrain, a gyroscope and an accelerometer can be used for greater reliability, as GPS signal loss and/or multipath can occur due to urban canyons or tunnels.
  • The term “bus” and variations thereof, as used herein, can refer to a subsystem that transfers information and/or data between various components. A bus generally refers to the collection communication hardware interface, interconnects, bus architecture, standard, and/or protocol defining the communication scheme for a communication system and/or communication network. A bus may also refer to a part of a communication hardware that interfaces the communication hardware with the interconnects that connect to other components of the corresponding communication network. The bus may be for a wired network, such as a physical bus, or wireless network, such as part of an antenna or hardware that couples the communication hardware with the antenna. A bus architecture supports a defined format in which information and/or data is arranged when sent and received through a communication network. A protocol may define the format and rules of communication of a bus architecture.
  • The terms “communication device,” “smartphone,” and “mobile device,” and variations thereof, as used herein, can be used interchangeably and may include any type of device capable of communicating with one or more of another device and/or across a communications network, via a communications protocol, and the like. Exemplary communication devices may include but are not limited to smartphones, handheld computers, laptops, netbooks, notebook computers, subnotebooks, tablet computers, scanners, portable gaming devices, phones, pagers, GPS modules, portable music players, and other Internet-enabled and/or network-connected devices.
  • A “communication modality” can refer to any protocol- or standard defined or specific communication session or interaction, such as Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (“VoIP), cellular communications (e.g., IS-95, 1G, 2G, 3G, 3.5G, 4G, 2G/IMT-Advanced standards, 3GPP, WIMAX™, GSM, CDMA, CDMA2000, EDGE, 1xEVDO, iDEN, GPRS, HSPDA, TDMA, UMA, UMTS, ITU-R, and 5G), Bluetooth™, text or instant messaging (e.g., AIM, Blauk, eBuddy, Gadu-Gadu, IBM Lotus Sametime, ICQ, iMessage, IMVU, Lync, MXit, Paltalk, Skype, Tencent QQ, Windows Live Messenger™ or MSN Messenger™, Wireclub, Xfire, and Yahoo! Messenger™), email, Twitter (e.g., tweeting), Digital Service Protocol (DSP), and the like.
  • The term “communication system” or “communication network” and variations thereof, as used herein, can refer to a collection of communication components capable of one or more of transmission, relay, interconnect, control, or otherwise manipulate information or data from at least one transmitter to at least one receiver. As such, the communication may include a range of systems supporting point-to-point or broadcasting of the information or data. A communication system may refer to the collection individual communication hardware as well as the interconnects associated with and connecting the individual communication hardware. Communication hardware may refer to dedicated communication hardware or may refer a processor coupled with a communication means (i.e., an antenna) and running software capable of using the communication means to send and/or receive a signal within the communication system. Interconnect refers some type of wired or wireless communication link that connects various components, such as communication hardware, within a communication system. A communication network may refer to a specific setup of a communication system with the collection of individual communication hardware and interconnects having some definable network topography. A communication network may include wired and/or wireless network having a pre-set to an ad hoc network structure.
  • The term “computer-readable medium,” as used herein refers to any tangible storage and/or transmission medium that participates in providing instructions to a processor for execution. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media includes, for example, non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM), or magnetic or optical disks. Volatile media includes dynamic memory, such as main memory. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, or any other magnetic medium, magneto-optical medium, a compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM), any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a random access memory (RAM), a programmable read only memory (PROM), and erasable programmable read only memory EPROM, a FLASH-EPROM, a solid state medium like a memory card, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read. A digital file attachment to an e-mail or other self-contained information archive or set of archives is considered a distribution medium equivalent to a tangible storage medium. When the computer-readable media is configured as a database, it is to be understood that the database may be any type of database, such as relational, hierarchical, object-oriented, and/or the like. Accordingly, the disclosure is considered to include a tangible storage medium or distribution medium and prior art-recognized equivalents and successor media, in which the software implementations of the present disclosure are stored. It should be noted that any computer readable medium that is not a signal transmission may be considered non-transitory.
  • The terms dash and dashboard and variations thereof, as used herein, may be used interchangeably and can be any panel and/or area of a vehicle disposed adjacent to an operator, user, and/or passenger. Dashboards may include, but are not limited to, one or more control panel(s), instrument housing(s), head unit(s), indicator(s), gauge(s), meter(s), light(s), audio equipment, computer(s), screen(s), display(s), HUD unit(s), and graphical user interface(s).
  • The term “module” as used herein refers to any known or later developed hardware, software, firmware, artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, or combination of hardware and software that is capable of performing the functionality associated with that element.
  • The term “desktop” refers to a metaphor used to portray systems. A desktop is generally considered a “surface” that may include pictures, called icons, widgets, folders, etc. that can activate and/or show applications, windows, cabinets, files, folders, documents, and other graphical items. The icons are generally selectable to initiate a task through user interface interaction to allow a user to execute applications and/or conduct other operations.
  • The term “display” refers to a portion of a physical screen used to display the output of a computer to a user.
  • The term “displayed image” refers to an image produced on the display. A typical displayed image is a window or desktop. The displayed image may occupy all or a portion of the display.
  • The term “display orientation” refers to the way in which a rectangular display is oriented for viewing. The two most common types of display orientations are portrait and landscape. In landscape mode, the display is oriented such that the width of the display is greater than the height of the display (such as a 4:3 ratio, which is 4 units wide and 3 units tall, or a 16:9 ratio, which is 16 units wide and 9 units tall). Stated differently, the longer dimension of the display is oriented substantially horizontal in landscape mode while the shorter dimension of the display is oriented substantially vertical. In the portrait mode, by contrast, the display is oriented such that the width of the display is less than the height of the display. Stated differently, the shorter dimension of the display is oriented substantially horizontal in the portrait mode while the longer dimension of the display is oriented substantially vertical. A multi-screen display can have one composite display that encompasses all the screens. The composite display can have different display characteristics based on the various orientations of the device.
  • The term “electronic address” can refer to any contactable address, including a telephone number, instant message handle, e-mail address, Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”), Global Universal Identifier (“GUID”), Universal Resource Identifier (“URI”), Address of Record (“AOR”), electronic alias in a database, etc., combinations thereof.
  • The term “gesture” refers to a user action that expresses an intended idea, action, meaning, result, and/or outcome. The user action can include manipulating a device (e.g., opening or closing a device, changing a device orientation, moving a trackball or wheel, etc.), movement of a body part in relation to the device, movement of an implement or tool in relation to the device, audio inputs, etc. A gesture may be made on a device (such as on the screen) or with the device to interact with the device.
  • The term “gesture capture” refers to a sense or otherwise a detection of an instance and/or type of user gesture. The gesture capture can be received by sensors in three-dimensional space. Further, the gesture capture can occur in one or more areas of a screen, for example, on a touch-sensitive display or a gesture capture region. A gesture region can be on the display, where it may be referred to as a touch sensitive display, or off the display, where it may be referred to as a gesture capture area.
  • The terms “infotainment” and “infotainment system” may be used interchangeably and can refer to the hardware/software products, data, content, information, and/or systems, which can be built into or added to vehicles to enhance driver and/or passenger experience. Infotainment may provide media and/or multimedia content. An example is information-based media content or programming that also includes entertainment content.
  • A “multi-screen application” refers to an application that is capable of producing one or more windows that may simultaneously occupy one or more screens. A multi-screen application commonly can operate in single-screen mode in which one or more windows of the application are displayed only on one screen or in multi-screen mode in which one or more windows are displayed simultaneously on multiple screens.
  • A “single-screen application” refers to an application that is capable of producing one or more windows that may occupy only a single screen at a time.
  • The terms “online community,” “e-community,” or “virtual community” can mean a group of people that interact via a computer network, for social, professional, educational, and/or other purposes. The interaction can use a variety of media formats, including wilds, blogs, chat rooms, Internet forums, instant messaging, email, and other forms of electronic media. Many media formats may be used in social software separately and/or in combination, including text-based chat rooms and forums that use voice, video text or avatars.
  • The term “satellite positioning system receiver” can refer to a wireless receiver or transceiver to receive and/or send location signals from and/or to a satellite positioning system (SPS), such as the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo positioning system (EU), Compass navigation system (China), and Regional Navigational Satellite System (India).
  • The term “social network service” may include a service provider that builds online communities of people, who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and/or activities of others. Social network services can be network-based and may provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.
  • The term “social network” can refer to a network-based social network.
  • The term “screen,” “touch screen,” “touchscreen,” or “touch-sensitive display” refers to a physical structure that enables the user to interact with the computer by touching areas on the screen and provides information to a user through a display. The touch screen may sense user contact in a number of different ways, such as by a change in an electrical parameter (e.g., resistance or capacitance), acoustic wave variations, infrared radiation proximity detection, light variation detection, and the like. In a resistive touch screen, for example, normally separated conductive and resistive metallic layers in the screen pass an electrical current. When a user touches the screen, the two layers make contact in the contacted location, whereby a change in electrical field is noted and the coordinates of the contacted location calculated. In a capacitive touch screen, a capacitive layer stores electrical charge, which is discharged to the user upon contact with the touch screen, causing a decrease in the charge of the capacitive layer. The decrease is measured, and the contacted location coordinates determined. In a surface acoustic wave touch screen, an acoustic wave is transmitted through the screen, and the acoustic wave is disturbed by user contact. A receiving transducer detects the user contact instance and determines the contacted location coordinates.
  • The term “window” refers to a, typically rectangular, displayed image on at least part of a display that contains or provides content different from the rest of the screen. The window may obscure the desktop. The dimensions and orientation of the window may be configurable either by another module or by a user. When the window is expanded, the window can occupy substantially all of the display space on a screen or screens.
  • The terms “determine,” “calculate,” and “compute,” and variations thereof, as used herein, are used interchangeably and include any type of methodology, process, mathematical operation, or technique.
  • It shall be understood that the term “means,” as used herein, shall be given its broadest possible interpretation in accordance with 35 U.S.C., Section 112, Paragraph 6 or other applicable law. Accordingly, a claim incorporating the term “means” shall cover all structures, materials, or acts set forth herein, and all of the equivalents thereof. Further, the structures, materials or acts and the equivalents thereof shall include all those described in the summary of the invention, brief description of the drawings, detailed description, abstract, and claims themselves.
  • The terms “vehicle,” “car,” “automobile,” and variations thereof may be used interchangeably herein and can refer to a device or structure for transporting animate and/or inanimate or tangible objects (e.g., persons and/or things), such as a self-propelled conveyance. A vehicle as used herein can include any conveyance or model of a conveyance, where the conveyance was originally designed for the purpose of moving one or more tangible objects, such as people, animals, cargo, and the like. The term “vehicle” does not require that a conveyance moves or is capable of movement. Typical vehicles may include but are in no way limited to cars, trucks, motorcycles, busses, automobiles, trains, railed conveyances, boats, ships, marine conveyances, submarine conveyances, airplanes, space craft, flying machines, human-powered conveyances, and the like.
  • The term “profile,” as used herein, can refer to any data structure, data store, and/or database that includes one or more items of information associated with a vehicle, a vehicle system, a device (e.g., a mobile device, laptop, mobile phone, etc.), or a person.
  • The term “in communication with,” as used herein, refers to any coupling, connection, or interaction using electrical signals to exchange information or data, using any system, hardware, software, protocol, or format, regardless of whether the exchange occurs wirelessly or over a wired connection.
  • The preceding is a simplified summary of the disclosure to provide an understanding of some aspects of the disclosure. This summary is neither an extensive nor exhaustive overview of the disclosure and its various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations. It is intended neither to identify key or critical elements of the disclosure nor to delineate the scope of the disclosure but to present selected concepts of the disclosure in a simplified form as an introduction to the more detailed description presented below. As will be appreciated, other aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations of the disclosure are possible utilizing, alone or in combination, one or more of the features set forth above or described in detail below.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of a vehicle operating environment;
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle system;
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle control system environment;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle communications subsystem;
  • FIG. 5A is a first block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle interior environment separated into areas and/or zones;
  • FIG. 5B is a second block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle interior environment separated into areas and/or zones;
  • FIG. 5C is a third block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle interior environment separated into areas and/or zones;
  • FIG. 6A depicts an embodiment of a sensor configuration for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 6B depicts an embodiment of a sensor configuration for a zone of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 7A is a block diagram of an embodiment of interior sensors for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 7B is a block diagram of an embodiment of exterior sensors for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 8A is a block diagram of an embodiment of a media subsystem for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 8B is a block diagram of an embodiment of a user and device interaction subsystem for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 8C is a block diagram of an embodiment of a Navigation subsystem for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 9 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a communications subsystem for a vehicle;
  • FIG. 10 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a software architecture for the vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11A is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11B is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11C is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11D is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11E is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11F is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11G is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11H is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11I is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11J is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 11K is a graphical representation of an embodiment of a gesture that a user may perform to provide input to a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 12A is a diagram of an embodiment of a data structure for storing information about a user of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 12B is a diagram of an embodiment of a data structure for storing information about a device associated with or in a vehicle;
  • FIG. 12C is a diagram of an embodiment of a data structure for storing information about a system of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 12D is a diagram of an embodiment of a data structure for storing information about a vehicle;
  • FIG. 13 is a flow or process diagram of a method for storing one or more settings associated with a user;
  • FIG. 14 is a flow or process diagram of a method for establishing one or more settings associated with a user;
  • FIG. 15 is a flow or process diagram of a method for storing one or more settings associated with a user;
  • FIG. 16 is a flow or process diagram of a method for storing one or more gestures associated with a user;
  • FIG. 17 is a flow or process diagram of a method for reacting to a gesture performed by a user;
  • FIG. 18 is a flow or process diagram of a method for storing health data associated with a user;
  • FIG. 19 is a flow or process diagram of a method for reacting to a gesture performed by a user;
  • FIG. 20A depicts an embodiment of a vehicle control system interacting with a home automation system;
  • FIG. 20B is a first block diagram of an embodiment a home automation system;
  • FIG. 20C is a second block diagram of an embodiment a home automation system;
  • FIG. 21A is a block diagram of an embodiment of a computer system of a home automation system;
  • FIG. 21B is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of additional modules of the computer system of a home automation system;
  • FIG. 22 is a flow or process diagram of a method for detecting and identifying an occupant of a home by a home automation system;
  • FIG. 23 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of additional modules of a vehicle control system;
  • FIG. 24 is a diagram of an embodiment of a data structure for storing settings for features of a home automation system;
  • FIG. 25 is a flow or process diagram of a method for changing settings of a home automation system when a vehicle returns to a home;
  • FIG. 26 is a flow or process diagram of a method for changing settings of a home automation system when a vehicle departs from a home;
  • FIG. 27 depicts an embodiment of a vehicle control system detecting a border as a vehicle moves from a first area to a second area;
  • FIG. 28A depicts a first embodiment of configurable displays of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 28B depicts a second embodiment of configurable displays of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 28C depicts a third embodiment of configurable displays of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 29A depicts a first embodiment of a console display of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 29B depicts a second embodiment of a console display of a vehicle;
  • FIG. 30 is a flow or process diagram of a method of configuring a displays of a vehicle based on a location of the vehicle;
  • FIG. 31 is a flow or process diagram of a method of imaging and translating traffic signs;
  • FIG. 32 is a flow or process diagram of a method of determining communication network rate changes and coverage gaps;
  • FIG. 33 depicts an embodiment of the operation of a vehicle environment monitoring module;
  • FIG. 34 is a flow or process diagram of a method of controlling vehicle features based on the operating environment of the vehicle;
  • FIG. 35 depicts an embodiment of the operation of a fee area module;
  • FIG. 36 depicts an embodiment of the operation of a parking space location module;
  • FIG. 37 is a flow or process diagram of a method of identifying and paying fees associated with entering a fee area;
  • FIG. 38 is a flow or process diagram of a method of locating and paying for a parking space;
  • FIG. 39 depicts an embodiment of the operation of a destination coordination module;
  • FIG. 40 depicts another embodiment of a console display of a vehicle; and
  • FIG. 41 is a flow or process diagram of a method of coordinating the arrival of a plurality of people at a common destination.
  • In the appended figures, similar components and/or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a letter that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference letter or label.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Presented herein are embodiments of systems, devices, processes, data structures, user interfaces, etc. The embodiments may relate to an automobile and/or an automobile environment. The automobile environment can include systems associated with the automobile and devices or other systems in communication with the automobile and/or automobile systems. Furthermore, the systems can relate to communications systems and/or devices and may be capable of communicating with other devices and/or to an individual or group of individuals. Further, the systems can receive user input in unique ways. The overall design and functionality of the systems provide for an enhanced user experience making the automobile more useful and more efficient. As described herein, the automobile systems may be electrical, mechanical, electro-mechanical, software-based, and/or combinations thereof.
  • A vehicle environment 100 that may contain a vehicle ecosystem is shown in FIG. 1. The vehicle environment 100 can contain areas associated with a vehicle or conveyance 104. The vehicle 104 is shown as a car but can be any type of conveyance. The environment 100 can include at least three zones. A first zone 108 may be inside a vehicle 104. The zone 108 includes any interior space, trunk space, engine compartment, or other associated space within or associated with the vehicle 104. The interior zone 108 can be defined by one or more techniques, for example, geo-fencing.
  • A second zone 112 may be delineated by line 120. The zone 112 is created by a range of one or more sensors associated with the vehicle 104. Thus, the area 112 is exemplary of the range of those sensors and what can be detected by those sensors associated with the vehicle 104. Although sensor range is shown as a fixed and continuous oval, the sensor range may be dynamic and/or discontinuous. For example, a ranging sensor (e.g., radar, lidar, ladar, etc.) may provide a variable range depending on output power, signal characteristics, or environmental conditions (e.g., rain, fog, clear, etc.). The rest of the environment includes all space beyond the range of the sensors and is represented by space 116. Thus, the environment 100 may have an area 116 that includes all areas beyond the sensor range 112. The area 116 may include locations of travel that the vehicle 104 may proceed to in the future.
  • An embodiment of a vehicle system 200 is shown in FIG. 2. The vehicle system 200 may comprise hardware and/or software that conduct various operations for or with the vehicle 104. The operations can include, but are not limited to, providing information to the user 216, receiving input from the user 216, and controlling the functions or operation of the vehicle 104, etc. The vehicle system 200 can include a vehicle control system 204. The vehicle control system 204 can be any type of computing system operable to conduct the operations as described herein. An example of a vehicle control system may be as described in conjunction with FIG. 3.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may interact with a memory or storage system 208 that stores system data. System data 208 may be any type of data needed for the vehicle control system 204 to control effectively the vehicle 104. The system data 208 can represent any type of database or other storage system. Thus, the system data 208 can be a flat file data system, an object-oriented data system, or some other data system that may interface with the vehicle control system 204.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may communicate with a device or user interface 212, 248. The user interface 212, 248 may be operable to receive user input either through touch input, on one or more user interface buttons, via voice command, via one or more image sensors, or through a graphical user interface that may include a gesture capture region, as described in conjunction with the other figures provided herein. Further, the symbol 212, 248 can represent a device that is located or associated with the vehicle 104. The device 212, 248 can be a mobile device, including, but not limited to, a mobile telephone, a mobile computer, or other type of computing system or device that is either permanently located in or temporarily associated with, but not necessarily connected to, the vehicle 104. Thus, the vehicle control system 204 can interface with the device 212, 248 and leverage the device's computing capability to provide one or more of the features or functions as described herein.
  • The device or user interface 212, 248 can receive input or provide information to a user 216. The user 216 may thus interact with the vehicle control system 204 through the interface or device 212, 248. Further, the device 212, 248 may include or have access to device data 220 and/or profile data 252. The device data 220 can be any type of data that is used in conjunction with the device 212, 248 including, but not limited to, multimedia data, preferences data, device identification information, or other types of data. The profile data 252 can be any type of data associated with at least one user 216 including, but in no way limited to, bioinformatics, medical information, driving history, personal information (e.g., home physical address, business physical address, contact addresses, likes, dislikes, hobbies, size, weight, occupation, business contacts—including physical and/or electronic addresses, personal contacts—including physical and/or electronic addresses, family members, and personal information related thereto, etc.), other user characteristics, advertising information, user settings and feature preferences, travel information, associated vehicle preferences, communication preferences, historical information (e.g., including historical, current, and/or future travel destinations), Internet browsing history, or other types of data. In any event, the data may be stored as device data 220 and/or profile data 252 in a storage system similar to that described in conjunction with FIGS. 12A through 12D.
  • As an example, the profile data 252 may include one or more user profiles. User profiles may be generated based on data gathered from one or more of vehicle preferences (e.g., seat settings, HVAC settings, dash configurations, and the like), recorded settings, geographic location information (e.g., provided by a satellite positioning system (e.g., GPS), Wi-Fi hotspot, cell tower data, etc.), mobile device information (such as mobile device electronic addresses, Internet browsing history and content, application store selections, user settings and enabled and disabled features, and the like), private information (such as user information from a social network, user presence information, user business account, and the like), secure data, biometric information, audio information from on board microphones, video information from on board cameras, Internet browsing history and browsed content using an on board computer and/or the local area network enabled by the vehicle 104, geographic location information (e.g., a vendor storefront, roadway name, city name, etc.), and the like.
  • The profile data 252 may include one or more user accounts. User accounts may include access and permissions to one or more settings and/or feature preferences associated with the vehicle 104, communications, infotainment, content, etc. In one example, a user account may allow access to certain settings for a particular user, while another user account may deny access to the settings for another user, and vice versa. The access controlled by the user account may be based on at least one of a user account priority, role, permission, age, family status, a group priority (e.g., the user account priority of one or more users, etc.), a group age (e.g., the average age of users in the group, a minimum age of the users in the group, a maximum age of the users in the group, and/or combinations thereof, etc.).
  • For example, a user 216 may be allowed to purchase applications (e.g., software, etc.) for the vehicle 104 and/or a device associated with the vehicle 104 based on information associated with the user account. This user account information may include a preferred payment method, permissions, and/or other account information. As provided herein, the user account information may be part of the user profile and/or other data stored in the profile data 252.
  • As another example, an adult user (e.g., a user with an age of 18 years old and/or over, etc.) may be located in an area of a vehicle 104, such as a rear passenger area. Continuing this example a child user (e.g., a user with an age of 17 years old and/or less, etc.) may be located in the same, or close, area. In this example, the user account information in the profile data 252 associated with both the adult user and the child user may be used by the vehicle 104 in determining whether content is appropriate for the area given the age of the child user. For instance, a graphic movie containing violence (e.g., a movie associated with a mature rating, such as a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating of “R,” “NC-17,” etc.) may be suitable to present to a display device associated with the adult user but may not be acceptable to present to the display device if a 12-year old child user may see and/or hear the content of the movie.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may also communicate with or through a communication network 224. The communication network 224 can represent any type of wireless and/or wired communication system that may be included within the vehicle 104 or operable to communicate outside the vehicle 104. Thus, the communication network 224 can include a local area communication capability and a wide area communication capability. For example, the communication network 224 can include a Bluetooth® wireless system, an 802.11x (e.g., 802.11G/802.11N/802.11AC, or the like, wireless system), a CAN bus, an Ethernet network within the vehicle 104, or other types of communication networks that may function with or be associated with the vehicle 104. Further, the communication network 224 can also include wide area communication capabilities, including one or more of, but not limited to, a cellular communication capability, satellite telephone communication capability, a wireless wide area network communication capability, or other types of communication capabilities that allow for the vehicle control system 204 to communicate outside the vehicle 104.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may communicate through the communication network 224 to a server 228 that may be located in a facility that is not within physical proximity to the vehicle 104. Thus, the server 228 may represent a cloud computing system or cloud storage that allows the vehicle control system 204 to either gain access to further computing capabilities or to storage at a location outside of the vehicle 104. The server 228 can include a computer processor and memory and be similar to any computing system as understood to one skilled in the art.
  • Further, the server 228 may be associated with stored data 232. The stored data 232 may be stored in any system or by any method, as described in conjunction with system data 208, device data 220, and/or profile data 252. The stored data 232 can include information that may be associated with one or more users 216 or associated with one or more vehicles 104. The stored data 232, being stored in a cloud or in a distant facility, may be exchanged among vehicles 104 or may be used by a user 216 in different locations or with different vehicles 104. Additionally or alternatively, the server may be associated with profile data 252 as provided herein. It is anticipated that the profile data 252 may be accessed across the communication network 224 by one or more components of the system 200. Similar to the stored data 232, the profile data 252, being stored in a cloud or in a distant facility, may be exchanged among vehicles 104 or may be used by a user 216 in different locations or with different vehicles 104.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may also communicate with one or more sensors 236, 242, which are either associated with the vehicle 104 or communicate with the vehicle 104. Vehicle sensors 242 may include one or more sensors for providing information to the vehicle control system 204 that determine or provide information about the environment 100 in which the vehicle 104 is operating. Embodiments of these sensors may be as described in conjunction with FIGS. 6A-7B. Non-vehicle sensor 236 can be any type of sensor that is not currently associated with the vehicle 104. For example, non-vehicle sensor 236 can be sensors in a traffic system operated by a third party that provides data to the vehicle control system 204. Further, the non-vehicle sensor(s) 236 can be other types of sensors which provide information about the distant environment 116 or other information about the vehicle 104 or the environment 100. These non-vehicle sensors 236 may be operated by third parties but provide information to the vehicle control system 204. Examples of information provided by the sensors 236 and that may be used by the vehicle control system 204 may include weather tracking data, traffic data, user health tracking data, vehicle maintenance data, or other types of data, which may provide environmental or other data to the vehicle control system 204. The vehicle control system 204 may also perform signal processing of signals received from one or more sensors 236, 242. Such signal processing may include estimation of a measured parameter from a single sensor, such as multiple measurements of a range state parameter from the vehicle 104 to an obstacle, and/or the estimation, blending, or fusion of a measured state parameter from multiple sensors such as multiple radar sensors or a combination of a ladar/lidar range sensor and a radar sensor. Signal processing of such sensor signal measurements may comprise stochastic signal processing, adaptive signal processing, and/or other signal processing techniques known to those skilled in the art.
  • The various sensors 236, 242 may include one or more sensor memory 244. Embodiments of the sensor memory 244 may be configured to store data collected by the sensors 236, 242. For example, a temperature sensor may collect temperature data associated with a vehicle 104, user 216, and/or environment, over time. The temperature data may be collected incrementally, in response to a condition, or at specific time periods. In this example, as the temperature data is collected, it may be stored in the sensor memory 244. In some cases, the data may be stored along with an identification of the sensor and a collection time associated with the data. Among other things, this stored data may include multiple data points and may be used to track changes in sensor measurements over time. As can be appreciated, the sensor memory 244 can represent any type of database or other storage system.
  • The diagnostic communications module 256 may be configured to receive and transmit diagnostic signals and information associated with the vehicle 104. Examples of diagnostics signals and information may include, but is in no way limited to, vehicle system warnings, sensor data, vehicle component status, service information, component health, maintenance alerts, recall notifications, predictive analysis, and the like. Embodiments of the diagnostic communications module 256 may handle warning/error signals in a predetermined manner. The signals, for instance, can be presented to one or more of a third party, occupant, vehicle control system 204, and a service provider (e.g., manufacturer, repair facility, etc.).
  • Optionally, the diagnostic communications module 256 may be utilized by a third party (i.e., a party other than the user 216, etc.) in communicating vehicle diagnostic information. For instance, a manufacturer may send a signal to a vehicle 104 to determine a status associated with one or more components associated with the vehicle 104. In response to receiving the signal, the diagnostic communications module 256 may communicate with the vehicle control system 204 to initiate a diagnostic status check. Once the diagnostic status check is performed, the information may be sent via the diagnostic communications module 256 to the manufacturer. This example may be especially useful in determining whether a component recall should be issued based on the status check responses returned from a certain number of vehicles.
  • Wired/wireless transceiver/communications ports 260 may be included. The wired/wireless transceiver/communications ports 260 may be included to support communications over wired networks or links, for example with other communication devices, server devices, and/or peripheral devices. Examples of wired/wireless transceiver/communications ports 260 include Ethernet ports, Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1594, or other interface ports.
  • An embodiment of a vehicle control environment 300 including a vehicle control system 204 may be as shown in FIG. 3. Beyond the vehicle control system 204, the vehicle control environment 300 can include one or more of, but is not limited to, a power source and/or power control module 316, a data storage module 320, user interface(s)/input interface(s) 324, vehicle subsystems 328, user interaction subsystems 332, Global Positioning System (GPS)/Navigation subsystems 336, sensor(s) and/or sensor subsystems 340, communication subsystems 344, media subsystems 348, and/or device interaction subsystems 352. The subsystems, modules, components, etc. 316-352 may include hardware, software, firmware, computer readable media, displays, input devices, output devices, etc. or combinations thereof. The system, subsystems, modules, components, etc. 204, 316-352 may communicate over a network or bus 356. This communication bus 356 may be bidirectional and perform data communications using any known or future-developed standard or protocol. An example of the communication bus 356 may be as described in conjunction with FIG. 4.
  • The vehicle control system 204 can include a processor 304, memory 308, and/or an input/output (I/O) module 312. Thus, the vehicle control system 204 may be a computer system, which can comprise hardware elements that may be electrically coupled. The hardware elements may include one or more central processing units (CPUs) 304; one or more components of the I/O module 312 including input devices (e.g., a mouse, a keyboard, etc.) and/or one or more output devices (e.g., a display device, a printer, etc.).
  • The processor 304 may comprise a general purpose programmable processor or controller for executing application programming or instructions. The processor 304 may, optionally, include multiple processor cores, and/or implement multiple virtual processors. Additionally or alternatively, the processor 304 may include multiple physical processors. As a particular example, the processor 304 may comprise a specially configured application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or other integrated circuit, a digital signal processor, a controller, a hardwired electronic or logic circuit, a programmable logic device or gate array, a special purpose computer, or the like. The processor 304 generally functions to run programming code or instructions implementing various functions of the vehicle control system 204.
  • The input/output module 312 and associated ports may be included to support communications over wired or wireless networks or links, for example with other communication devices, server devices, and/or peripheral devices. Examples of an input/output module 312 include an Ethernet port, a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1594, or other interface.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may also include one or more storage devices 308. By way of example, storage devices 308 may be disk drives, optical storage devices, solid-state storage devices such as a random access memory (“RAM”) and/or a read-only memory (“ROM”), which can be programmable, flash-updateable and/or the like. The vehicle control system 204 may additionally include a computer-readable storage media reader; a communications system (e.g., a modem, a network card (wireless or wired), an infra-red communication device, etc.); and working memory 308, which may include RAM and ROM devices as described above. The vehicle control system 204 may also include a processing acceleration unit, which can include a digital signal processor (DSP), a special-purpose processor, and/or the like.
  • The computer-readable storage media reader can further be connected to a computer-readable storage medium, together (and, optionally, in combination with storage device(s)) comprehensively representing remote, local, fixed, and/or removable storage devices plus storage media for temporarily and/or more permanently containing computer-readable information. The communications system may permit data to be exchanged with an external or internal network and/or any other computer or device described herein. Moreover, as disclosed herein, the term “storage medium” may represent one or more devices for storing data, including read only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), magnetic RAM, core memory, magnetic disk storage mediums, optical storage mediums, flash memory devices, and/or other machine readable mediums for storing information.
  • The vehicle control system 204 may also comprise software elements including an operating system and/or other code, as described in conjunction with FIG. 10. It should be appreciated that alternates to the vehicle control system 204 may have numerous variations from that described herein. For example, customized hardware might also be used and/or particular elements might be implemented in hardware, software (including portable software, such as applets), or both. Further, connection to other computing devices such as network input/output devices may be employed.
  • The power source and/or power control module 316 can include any type of power source, including, but not limited to, batteries, alternating current sources (from connections to a building power system or power line), solar cell arrays, etc. One or more components or modules may also be included to control the power source or change the characteristics of the provided power signal. Such modules can include one or more of, but is not limited to, power regulators, power filters, alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) converters, DC to AC converters, receptacles, wiring, other converters, etc. The power source and/or power control module 316 functions to provide the vehicle control system 204 and any other system with power.
  • The data storage 320 can include any module for storing, retrieving, and/or managing data in one or more data stores and/or databases. The database or data stores may reside on a storage medium local to (and/or resident in) the vehicle control system 204 or in the vehicle 104. Alternatively, some of the data storage capability may be remote from the vehicle control system 204 or automobile, and in communication (e.g., via a network) to the vehicle control system 204. The database or data stores may reside in a storage-area network (“SAN”) familiar to those skilled in the art. Similarly, any necessary files for performing the functions attributed to the vehicle control system 204 may be stored locally on the respective vehicle control system 204 and/or remotely, as appropriate. The databases or data stores may be a relational database, and the data storage module 320 may be adapted to store, update, and retrieve data in response to specifically-formatted commands. The data storage module 320 may also perform data management functions for any flat file, object oriented, or other type of database or data store.
  • A first data store that may be part of the vehicle control environment 300 is a profile data store 252 for storing data about user profiles and data associated with the users. A system data store 208 can include data used by the vehicle control system 204 and/or one or more of the components 324-352 to facilitate the functionality described herein. The data stores 208 and/or 252 may be as described in conjunction with FIGS. 1 and/or 12A-12D.
  • The user interface/input interfaces 324 may be as described herein for providing information or data and/or for receiving input or data from a user. Vehicle systems 328 can include any of the mechanical, electrical, electromechanical, computer, or other systems associated with the function of the vehicle 100. For example, vehicle systems 328 can include one or more of, but is not limited to, the steering system, the braking system, the engine and engine control systems, the electrical system, the suspension, the drive train, the cruise control system, the radio, the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system, the windows and/or doors, etc. These systems are well known in the art and will not be described further.
  • Examples of the other systems and subsystems 324-352 may be as described further herein. For example, the user interface(s)/input interface(s) 324 may be as described in FIGS. 2 and 8B; the vehicle subsystems 328 may be as described in FIGS. 6 a et. seq.; the user interaction subsystem 332 may be as described in conjunction with the user/device interaction subsystem 817 of FIG. 8B; the Navigation subsystem 336 may be as described in FIGS. 6A and 8C; the sensor(s)/sensor subsystem 340 may be as described in FIGS. 7A and 7B; the communication subsystem 344 may be as described in FIGS. 2, 4, 5B, 5C, and 9; the media subsystem 348 may be as described in FIG. 8A; and, the device interaction subsystem 352 may be as described in FIG. 2 and in conjunction with the user/device interaction subsystem 817 of FIG. 8B.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an optional communications channel architecture 400 and associated communications components. FIG. 4 illustrates some of the optional components that can be interconnected via the communication channels/zones 404. Communication channels/zones 404 can carry information on one or more of a wired and/or wireless communications link with, in the illustrated example, there being three communications channels/zones, 408, 412, and 416.
  • This optional environment 400 can also include an IP router 420, an operator cluster 424, one or more storage devices 428, one or more blades, such as master blade 432, and computational blades 436 and 440. Additionally, the communications channels/zones 404 can interconnect one or more displays, such as, remote display 1 444, remote display N 448, and console display 452. The communications channels/zones 404 also interconnect an access point 456, a Bluetooth® access point/USB hub 460, a Femtocell 464, a storage controller 468, that is connected to one or more of USB devices 472, DVDs 476, or other storage devices 480. To assist with managing communications within the communication channel, the environment 400 optionally includes a firewall 484 which will be discussed hereinafter in greater detail. Other components that could also share the communications channel/zones 404 include GPS 488, media controller 492, which is connected to one or more media sources 496, and one or more subsystems, such as subsystem switches 498.
  • Optionally, the communications channels/zones 404 can be viewed as an I/O network or bus where the communications channels are carried on the same physical media. Optionally, the communication channels 404 can be split amongst one or more physical media and/or combined with one or more wireless communications protocols. Optionally, the communications channels 404 can be based on wireless protocols with no physical media interconnecting the various elements described herein.
  • The environment 400 shown in FIG. 4 can include a collection of blade processors that are housed in a “crate.” The crate can have a PC-style backplane connector 408 and a backplane Ethernet 408 that allows the various blades to communicate with one another using, for example, an Ethernet.
  • Various other functional elements illustrated in FIG. 4 can be integrated into this crate architecture with, as discussed hereinafter, various zones utilized for security. Optionally, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the backplane 404/408 can have two separate Ethernet zones that may or may not be on the same communications channel. Optionally, the zones exist on a single communications channel on the I/O network/bus 408. Optionally, the zones are actually on different communications channels, e.g., 412, 416; however, the implementation is not restricted to any particular type of configuration. Rather, as illustrated in FIG. 4, there can be a red zone 417 and a green zone 413, and the I/O backplane on the network/bus 408 that enables standard I/O operations. This backplane or I/O network/bus 408 also optionally can provide power distribution to the various modules and blades illustrated in FIG. 4. The red and green Ethernet zones, 417 and 413 respectively, can be implemented as Ethernet switches, with one on each side of the firewall 484. Two Ethernets (untrusted and trusted) are not connected in accordance with an optional embodiment. Optionally, the connector geometry for the firewall can be different for the Ethernet zones than for the blades that are a part of the system.
  • The red zone 417 only needs to go from the modular connector to the input side of the backplane connector of the firewall 484. While FIG. 4 indicates that there are five external red zone connectors to the firewall 484, provisions can be made for any number of ports with the connections being made at the access point 456, the Bluetooth® access point (combo controller) 460, Femtocell 464, storage controller 468, and/or firewall 484. Optionally, the external port connections can be made through a manufacturer configurable modular connector panel, and one or more of the red zone Ethernet ports could be available through a customer supplied crate which allows, for example, wired Ethernet connections from a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to the firewall 484.
  • The green zone 413 goes from the output side of the firewall 484 and generally defines the trusted Ethernet. The Ethernet on the backplane 408 essentially implements an Ethernet switch for the entire system, defining the Ethernet backbone of the vehicle 104. All other modules, e.g., blades, etc., can connect to a standard backplane bus and the trusted Ethernet. Some number of switch ports can be reserved to connect to an output modular connector panel to distribute the Ethernet throughout the vehicle 104, e.g., connecting such elements as the console display 452, remote displays 444, 448, GPS 488, etc. Optionally, only trusted components, either provided or approved by the manufacturer after testing, can be attached to the green zone 413, which is by definition in the trusted Ethernet environment.
  • Optionally, the environment 400, shown in FIG. 4, utilizes IPv6 over Ethernet connections wherever possible. Using, for example, the Broadcom single-twisted pair Ethernet technology, wiring harnesses are simplified and data transmission speeds are maximized. However, while the Broadcom single-twisted pair Ethernet technology can be used, in general, systems and methods can work comparably well with any type of well-known Ethernet technology or other comparable communications technology.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 4 the I/O network/bus 408 is a split-bus concept that contains three independent bus structures:
  • The red zone 417—the untrusted Ethernet environment. This zone 417 may be used to connect network devices and customer provided devices to the vehicle information system with these devices being on the untrusted side of the firewall 484.
  • The green zone 413—the trusted Ethernet environment, this zone 413 can be used to connect manufacturer certified devices such as GPS units, remote displays, subsystem switches, and the like, to the vehicle network 404. Manufacturer certified devices can be implemented by vendors that allow the vehicle software system to validate whether or not a device is certified to operate with the vehicle 100. Optionally, only certified devices are allowed to connect to the trusted side of the network.
  • The I/O bus 409—the I/O bus may be used to provide power and data transmission to bus-based devices such as the vehicle solid state drive, the media controller blade 492, the computational blades 436, 440, and the like.
  • As an example, the split-bus structure can have the following minimum configuration:
  • Two slots for the red zone Ethernet;
  • One slot for built-in LTE/WiMax access 420 from the car to other network resources such as the cloud/Internet;
  • One slot for user devices or bring-your-own device access, this slot can implement, for example, WiFi, Bluetooth®, and/or USB connectivity 456, which can be provided in, for example, the customer crate;
  • One slot for combined red zone and green zone Ethernet, this slot can be reserved for the firewall controller;
  • Two slots for computational blades. Here the two computation blades are illustratively as shown the optional master blade and the multimedia blade or controller 492 which can be provided as standard equipment; and
  • The expansion controller that allows the I/O bus to be extended and provides additional Ethernet switch ports for one or more of the red or green zones, which may require that the basic green zone Ethernet switch implementation will support additional ports beyond the initial three that are needed for the basic exemplary system.
  • It should be possible to build 8 or 16 or more Ethernet switches that allow for the expansion with existing component(s) in a straight-forward manner.
  • The red zone 417 can be implemented as an 8-port Ethernet switch that has three actual bus ports within the crate with the remaining five ports being available on the customer crate. The crate implements red zone slots for the firewall controller 484, the combo controller which includes WiFi, Bluetooth®, USB hub (456, 460) and the IP router 420.
  • The firewall controller 484 can have a dedicated slot that bridges the red zone 417, green zone 413, and uses the I/O bus for power connections. In accordance with an optional low cost implementation, the firewall 484 can be implemented by a dummy module that simply bridges the red zone 417 and the green zone 413 without necessarily providing any firewall functionality. The combo controller 460 that includes the WiFi, Bluetooth®, and USB hub can be provided for consumer device connections. This controller can also implement the IPv6 (un-routable) protocol to insure that all information is packetized for transmission via IP over the Ethernet in the I/O network/bus 408.
  • The combo controller 460 with the USB hub can have ports in the customer crate. The combo controller 460 can implement USB discovery functions and packetizes the information for transmission via IP over Ethernet. The combo controller 460 can also facilitate installation of the correct USB driver for the discovered device, such as a BYOD from the user. The combo controller 460 and USB hub can then map the USB address to a “local” IPv6 address for interaction with one or more of the computational blades which is generally going to be the media controller 492.
  • The IP router 420 can implement Internet access through a manufacturer provided service. This service can allow, for example, a manufacturer to offer value-added services to be integrated into the vehicle information systems. The existence of the manufacturer provided Internet access can also allow the “e-Call” function and other vehicle data recorder functions to be implemented. IP router 420 also allows, for example, WiMax, 4G LTE, and other connections to the Internet through a service provider that can be, for example, contracted by the manufacturer. Internally, the IP router 420 can allow cellular handset connections to the Internet through a Femtocell 464 that is part of the IP router implementation. The IP router 420, with the Femtocell 464, can also allow a cone of silence functionality to be implemented. The IP router 420 can be an optional component for a vehicle provided by, for example, the manufacturer, a dealer, or installed by a user. In the absence of the IP router 420, it is possible to connect a consumer handheld device to the I/O network/bus 408 using, for example, either WiFi or Bluetooth® 456, 460. While functionality may be somewhat reduced when using a handheld device instead of a built-in Ethernet connection, systems and methods of this invention can also work utilizing this consumer handheld device which then connects to the Internet via, for example, WiMax, 4G, 4G LTE, or the like.
  • FIGS. 5A-5C show configurations of a vehicle 104. In general, a vehicle 104 may provide functionality based at least partially on one or more areas, zones, and distances, associated with the vehicle 104. Non-limiting examples of this functionality are provided herein below.
  • An arrangement or configuration for sensors within a vehicle 104 is as shown in FIG. 5A. The sensor arrangement 500 can include one or more areas 508 within the vehicle. An area can be a larger part of the environment inside or outside of the vehicle 104. Thus, area one 508A may include the area within the trunk space or engine space of the vehicle 104 and/or the front passenger compartment. Area two 508B may include a portion of the interior space 108 (e.g., a passenger compartment, etc.) of the vehicle 104. The area N, 508N, may include the trunk space or rear compartment area, when included within the vehicle 104. The interior space 108 may also be divided into other areas. Thus, one area may be associated with the front passenger's and driver's seats, a second area may be associated with the middle passengers' seats, and a third area may be associated with a rear passenger's seat. Each area 508 may include one or more sensors that are positioned or operate to provide environmental information about that area 508.
  • Each area 508 may be further separated into one or more zones 512 within the area 508. For example, area 1 508A may be separated into zone A 512A, and zone B 512B. Each zone 512 may be associated with a particular portion of the interior occupied by a passenger. For example, zone A 512A may be associated with a driver. Zone B 512B, may be associated with a front passenger. Each zone 512 may include one or more sensors that are positioned or configured to collect information about the environment or ecosystem associated with that zone or person.
  • A passenger area 508B may include more than two zones as described in conjunction with area 508A. For example, area 508B may include three zones, 512C, 512D, and 512E. These three separate zones 512C, 512D, and 512E may be associated with three passenger seats typically found in the rear passenger area of a vehicle 104. An area 508N and may include a single zone 512N as there may be no separate passenger areas but may include a single trunk area within the vehicle 104. The number of zones 512 is unlimited within the areas as the areas are also unlimited inside the vehicle 104. Further, it should be noted that there may be one or areas 508 or zones 512 that may be located outside the vehicle 104 that may have a specific set of sensors associated therewith.
  • Optionally, each area/access point 508, 456, 516, 520, and/or zone 512, associated with a vehicle 104, may comprise one or more sensors to determine a presence of a user 216 and/or device 212, 248 in and/or adjacent to each area 508, 456, 516, 520, and/or zone 512. The sensors may include vehicle sensors 242 and/or non-vehicle sensors 236 as described herein. It is anticipated that the sensors may be configured to communicate with a vehicle control system 204 and/or the diagnostic communications module 256. Additionally or alternatively, the sensors may communicate with a device 212, 248. The communication of sensors with the vehicle 104 may initiate and/or terminate the control of device 212, 248 features. For example, a vehicle operator may be located in a second outside area 520 associated with a vehicle 104. As the operator approaches the first outside area 516, associated with the vehicle 104, the vehicle control system 204 may determine to control features associated with one or more device 212, 248 and diagnostic communications module 256.
  • Optionally, the location of the device 212, 248 relative to the vehicle 104 may determine vehicle functionality and/or features to be provided and/or restricted to a user 216. By way of example, a device 212, 248 associated with a user 216 may be located at a second outside area 520 from the vehicle 104. In this case, and based at least partially on the distance of the device 212, 248 from the vehicle 104 (e.g., provided by detecting the device 212, 248 at or beyond the second outside area 520) the vehicle 104 may lock one or more features (e.g., ignition access, vehicle access, communications ability, etc.) associated with the vehicle 104. Optionally, the vehicle 104 may provide an alert based on the distance of the device 212, 248 from the vehicle 104. Continuing the example above, once the device 212, 248 reaches the first outside area 516 of the vehicle 104 at least one of the vehicle features may be unlocked. For instance, by reaching the first outside area 516, the vehicle 104 may unlock a door of the vehicle 104. In some cases, when the device is detected to be inside the vehicle 104, the various sensors 236, 242 may determine that the user 216 is in an area 508 and/or zone 512. As is further described herein, features of the vehicle 104, device 212, 248, and/or other components may be controlled based on rules stored in a memory.
  • FIG. 5B illustrates optional internal vehicle communications between one or more of the vehicle and one or more devices or between devices. Various communications can occur utilizing one or more Bluetooth®, NFC, WiFi, mobile hot spot, point-to-point communications, point-to-multipoint other point communications, an ad hoc network, or in general any known communications protocol over any known communications media or media-types.
  • Optionally, various types of internal vehicle communications can be facilitated using an access point 456 that utilizes one or more of Bluetooth®, NFC, WiFi, wireless Ethernet, mobile hot spot technology, or the like. Upon being connected with, and optionally authenticated to the access point 456, the connected device is able to communicate with one or more of the vehicle and one or more other devices that are connected to the access point 456. The type of connection to the access point 456 can be based on, for example, the zone 512, in which the device is located.
  • The user may identify their zone 512 in conjunction with an authentication procedure to the access point 456. For example, a driver in zone A 512A, upon authenticating to the access point 456, can cause the access point 456 to send a query to the device asking the device user in which zone 512 they are located. As discussed hereinafter, the zone 512 the user device is located in may have an impact on the type of communications, available bandwidth, the types of other devices or vehicle systems or subsystems the device could communicate with, and the like. As a brief introduction, internal communications with zone A 512A may be given preferential treatment over those communications originating from area 2 508B, which could have in itself, preferential treatment over communications originating within area N 508N.
  • Moreover, the device in zone A 512A can include profile information that governs the other devices that are allowed to connect to the access point 456 and what those devices have access to, how they can communicate, how much bandwidth they are allocated, and the like. While, optionally, the device associated with zone A 512A will be considered the “master” controller of the profile that governs the internal vehicle communications, it should be appreciated that this was arbitrarily chosen since it is assumed that there will always be a driver in a car that is present in zone A 512A. However, it should be appreciated the driver in zone A 512A, for example, may not have a communications device in which case a device associated with one of the other areas or zones, such as zone B 512B, area 2 508B, or area N 508N could also be associated with or control this master profile.
  • Optionally, various devices located within the various zones 512 can connect using, for example, ports provided by access point 456 or Bluetooth® access point/USB hub 460 as illustrated in FIG. 4. Similarly, the device(s) could connect utilizing the Femtocell 464 and optionally be directly connected via, for example, a standard Ethernet port.
  • As discussed, each one of the areas, area 1 508A, area 2 508B, and area N 508N, can each have associated therewith a profile that governs, for example, how many and what types of devices can connect from that area 508, bandwidth allocated to that area 508, the types of media or content available to device(s) within that area 508, the interconnection of devices within that area 508 or between areas 508, or, in general, can control any aspect of communication of an associated device with any one or more other associated devices/vehicle systems within the vehicle 104.
  • Optionally, area 2 508B devices can be provided with full access to multimedia and infotainment available within the vehicle 104, however, devices in area 2 508B may be restricted from any access to vehicle functions. Only devices in area 1 508A may be able to access vehicle control functions such as when “parents” are located in area 1 508A and the children are located in area 2 508B. Optionally, devices found in zone E 512E of area 2 508B may be able to access limited vehicle control functionality such as climate control within area 2. Similarly, devices in area N 508N may be able to control climate features within zone N 512N.
  • As will be appreciated, profiles can be established that allow management of communications within each of the areas 508, and further optionally within each of the zones 512. The profile can be granular in nature controlling not only what type of devices can connect within each zone 512, but how those devices can communicate with other devices and/or the vehicle and types of information that can be communicated.
  • To assist with identifying a location of a device within a zone 512, a number of different techniques can be utilized. One optional technique involves one or more of the vehicle sensors detecting the presence of an individual within one of the zones 512. Upon detection of an individual in a zone 512, communications subsystems 344 and the access point 456 can cooperate to not only associate the device within the zone 512 with the access point 456 but to also determine the location of the device within an area, and optionally within a zone 512. Once the device is established within a zone 512, a profile associated with the vehicle 104 can store information identifying that device and/or a person and optionally associating it with a particular zone 512 as a default. As discussed, there can be a master profile optionally associated with the device in zone A 512A, this master profile can govern communications with the communications subsystems 340 and where communications within vehicle 104 are to occur.
  • Some optional profiles are illustrated below where the Master Profile governs other device connectivity:
  • Master Profile:
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    All Communications Allow Access to No Access Master Profile
    Infotainment acts as Firewall
    and Router
    All Vehicle Controls Allow Area 2
    Climate Control

    Secondary Profile (e.g., device in Zone B 512B, Area 1 508A)
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    All Allow Access to Allow Access to Master Profile
    Communications Infotainment Infotainment acts as Firewall
    and Router
    All Vehicle Allow Area 2 Allow Area 2
    Controls Climate Control Climate Control
  • Secondary Profile, Option 2
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    All Communications Allow Access to Allow Access to
    Infotainment, Infotainment
    Internet
    All Vehicle Controls Allow Area 2 Allow Area 2
    Except Driver- Climate Control Climate Control
    centric Controls
  • Some optional profiles are illustrated below where the Area/Zone governs device connectivity:
  • Area 2 508B Profile:
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    No Communications Allow Access to
    with Area 1 Devices Infotainment, Allow
    Access to Other
    Area 2 or Zone N
    Devices, Internet
    No Vehicle Controls Allow Area 2
    Climate Control
  • Area N 508N Profile:
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    Communications Allow Access to
    with Area 1, Zone B Infotainment, Allow
    Device Access to Other
    Area N or Zone N
    Devices
    No Vehicle Controls Allow Area N
    Climate Control
  • Area 2 508B Profile:
  • Area 1 508A Area 2 508B Area N 508N Other
    Media Sharing with Allow Access to
    Area 1, Zone B and Infotainment, Allow
    Vehicle Access to Other
    Area 2 or Zone N
    Devices, Internet
    and Femtocell
    No Vehicle Controls
  • Optionally, a user's device, such as a SmartPhone, can store in, for example a profile, with which zone 512 the user's device is associated. Then, assuming the user sits in the same zone 512 and area 508 as previously, the user's device can re-establish the same communications protocols with the access point 456 as were previously established.
  • In addition or in the alternative, the areas 508 and zones 512 can have associated therewith restrictions as to which one or more other user's devices with which users' devices can connect. For example, a first user's device can connect with any other user device in area 2 508B or area N 508N, however is restricted from connecting with a user device in area 1 508A, zone A 512A. However, the first user device may be able to communicate with another user's device that is located in area 1 508A, zone B 512B. These communications can include any type of standard communications such as sharing content, exchanging messages, forwarding or sharing multimedia or infotainment, or in general can include any communications that would ordinarily be available between two devices and/or the vehicle and vehicle systems. As discussed, there may be restrictions on the type of communications that can be sent to the device in area 1 508A, zone A 512A. For example, the user's device in area 1 508A, zone A 512A may be restricted from receiving one or more of text messages, multimedia, infotainment, or in general anything that can be envisioned as a potential distraction to the driver. Moreover, it should be appreciated that the communications between the various devices and the various zones 512 need not necessarily occur with the assistance of access point 456, but the communications could also occur directly between the device(s).
  • FIG. 5C outlines optional internal vehicle communications between one or more of the vehicle and one or more devices. More specifically, FIG. 5C illustrates an example of vehicle communications where the vehicle 104 is equipped with the necessary transceivers to provide a mobile hot spot functionality to any user device(s) therein, such as user devices 248A and 248N.
  • Optionally, and as discussed above, one or more user devices can connect to the access point 456. This access point 456 is equipped to handle communications routing to not only the communication network/buses 224 for intra-vehicle communications, but optionally can also communicate with, for example, the Internet or the cloud, in cooperation with transceiver 260. Optionally included is a firewall 484 that has the capability of not only blocking certain types of content, such as a malicious content, but can also operate to exclude certain type of communications from emanating from the vehicle 104 and transceiver 260. As will be appreciated, various profiles could be established in the firewall 484 that controls not only the type of communications that can be received at the vehicle 104, but the type of communications that can be sent from the vehicle 104.
  • The transceiver 260 can be any type of well-known wireless transceiver that communicates using a known communications protocol such as WiMax, 4G, 4G LTE, 3G, or the like. The user devices can communicate via, for example, WiFi link 248 with the access point 456, with the transceiver 260 providing Internet connectivity to the various user devices. As will be appreciated, there may need to be an account associated with transceiver 260 with a wireless carrier to provide data and/or voice connectivity to enable the user devices to communicate with the Internet. Typically, the account is established on a month-to-month basis with an associated fee but could also be performed based on the amount of data to be transmitted, received, or in any other manner.
  • Moreover, one or more of the user's devices and access point 456 can maintain profile information that governs how the user's devices are able to communicate with other devices, and optionally the Internet. Optionally, a profile can exist that only allows the user's devices to communicate with other user's devices and/or the vehicle, multimedia and/or the vehicle infotainment system, and may not be allowed access to the Internet via transceiver 260. The profile can stipulate that the user's device could connect to the Internet via transceiver 260 for a specified period of time and/or up to a certain amount of data usage. The user's device can have full access to the Internet via transceiver 260 with no limit on time or data usage which would reduce the data usage of the user's device since it is connected via WiFi to the access point 456, but however, would increase the data usage by transceiver 260, and therefore, shift the billing for that data usage to the transceiver 260 instead of the user's device. Still further, and as previously discussed, the various profiles may stipulate which user's device has priority for use of the bandwidth provided by the transceiver 260. For example, a user's device located area 1 508A, zone A 512A may be given preferential routing treatment of data above that of a user's device in zone N 512N. In this manner, for example, a driver would be given priority for Internet access above that of the passengers. This could become important, for example, when the driver is trying to obtain traffic or direction information or, for example, when the vehicle is performing a download to update various software features.
  • As will be appreciated, the optional firewall 484 can cooperate with the access point 456 and the various profiles that area 508 associated with the various devices within the vehicle 104 and can fully implement communications restrictions, control bandwidth limits, Internet accessibility, malicious software blocking, and the like. Moreover, the optional firewall 484 can be accessed by an administrator with one or more of these configuration settings edited through an administrator's control panel. For example, in a scenario where parents are always in area 1 508A, it may be appropriate to give all of the user's devices in area 1 508A full access to the Internet utilizing transceiver 260, however, while restricting access and/or bandwidth to any other user devices within the vehicle 104. As the user's device and profile would be known by the firewall 484, upon the user's device being associated with the access point 456, the firewall 484 and transceiver 260 can be configured to allow communications in accordance with the stored profile.
  • A set of sensors or vehicle components 600 associated with the vehicle 104 may be as shown in FIG. 6A. The vehicle 104 can include, among many other components common to vehicles, wheels 607, a power source 609 (such as an engine, motor, or energy storage system (e.g., battery or capacitive energy storage system)), a manual or automatic transmission 612, a manual or automatic transmission gear controller 616, a power controller 620 (such as a throttle), a vehicle control system 204, the display device 212, a braking system 636, a steering wheel 640, a power source activation/deactivation switch 644 (e.g., an ignition), an occupant seating system 648, a wireless signal receiver 653 to receive wireless signals from signal sources such as roadside beacons and other electronic roadside devices, and a satellite positioning system receiver 657 (e.g., a Global Positioning System (“GPS”) (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo positioning system (EU), Compass navigation system (China), and Regional Navigational Satellite System (India) receiver), driverless systems (e.g., cruise control systems, automatic steering systems, automatic braking systems, etc.).
  • The vehicle 104 can include a number of sensors in wireless or wired communication with the vehicle control system 204 and/or display device 212, 248 to collect sensed information regarding the vehicle state, configuration, and/or operation. Exemplary sensors may include one or more of, but are not limited to, wheel state sensor 660 to sense one or more of vehicle speed, acceleration, deceleration, wheel rotation, wheel speed (e.g., wheel revolutions-per-minute), wheel slip, and the like, a power source energy output sensor 664 to sense a power output of the power source 609 by measuring one or more of current engine speed (e.g., revolutions-per-minute), energy input and/or output (e.g., voltage, current, fuel consumption, and torque) (e.g., turbine speed sensor, input speed sensor, crankshaft position sensor, manifold absolute pressure sensor, mass flow sensor, and the like), and the like, a switch state sensor 668 to determine a current activation or deactivation state of the power source activation/deactivation switch 644, a transmission setting sensor 670 to determine a current setting of the transmission (e.g., gear selection or setting), a gear controller sensor 672 to determine a current setting of the gear controller 616, a power controller sensor 674 to determine a current setting of the power controller 620, a brake sensor 676 to determine a current state (braking or non-braking) of the braking system 636, a seating system sensor 678 to determine a seat setting and current weight of seated occupant, if any) in a selected seat of the seating system 648, exterior and interior sound receivers 690 and 692 (e.g., a microphone, sonar, and other type of acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor) to receive and convert sound waves into an equivalent analog or digital signal. Examples of other sensors (not shown) that may be employed include safety system state sensors to determine a current state of a vehicular safety system (e.g., air bag setting (deployed or undeployed) and/or seat belt setting (engaged or not engaged)), light setting sensor (e.g., current headlight, emergency light, brake light, parking light, fog light, interior or passenger compartment light, and/or tail light state (on or off)), brake control (e.g., pedal) setting sensor, accelerator pedal setting or angle sensor, clutch pedal setting sensor, emergency brake pedal setting sensor, door setting (e.g., open, closed, locked or unlocked) sensor, engine temperature sensor, passenger compartment or cabin temperature sensor, window setting (open or closed) sensor, one or more interior-facing or exterior-facing cameras or other imaging sensors (which commonly convert an optical image into an electronic signal but may include other devices for detection objects such as an electromagnetic radiation emitter/receiver that emits electromagnetic radiation and receives electromagnetic waves reflected by the object) to sense objects, such as other vehicles and pedestrians and optionally determine the distance, trajectory and speed of such objects, in the vicinity or path of the vehicle, odometer reading sensor, trip mileage reading sensor, wind speed sensor, radar transmitter/receiver output, brake wear sensor, steering/torque sensor, oxygen sensor, ambient lighting sensor, vision system sensor, ranging sensor, parking sensor, heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) sensor, water sensor, air-fuel ratio meter, blind spot monitor, hall effect sensor, microphone, radio frequency (RF) sensor, infrared (IR) sensor, vehicle control system sensors, wireless network sensor (e.g., Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth® sensor), cellular data sensor, and other sensors either future-developed or known to those of skill in the vehicle art.
  • In the depicted vehicle embodiment, the various sensors can be in communication with the display device 212, 248 and vehicle control system 204 via signal carrier network 224. As noted, the signal carrier network 224 can be a network of signal conductors, a wireless network (e.g., a radio frequency, microwave, or infrared communication system using a communications protocol, such as Wi-Fi), or a combination thereof. The vehicle control system 204 may also provide signal processing of one or more sensors, sensor fusion of similar and/or dissimilar sensors, signal smoothing in the case of erroneous “wild point” signals, and/or sensor fault detection. For example, ranging measurements provided by one or more RF sensors may be combined with ranging measurements from one or more IR sensors to determine one fused estimate of vehicle range to an obstacle target.
  • The control system 204 may receive and read sensor signals, such as wheel and engine speed signals, as a digital input comprising, for example, a pulse width modulated (PWM) signal. The processor 304 can be configured, for example, to read each of the signals into a port configured as a counter or configured to generate an interrupt on receipt of a pulse, such that the processor 304 can determine, for example, the engine speed in revolutions per minute (RPM) and the speed of the vehicle in miles per hour (MPH) and/or kilometers per hour (KPH). One skilled in the art will recognize that the two signals can be received from existing sensors in a vehicle comprising a tachometer and a speedometer, respectively. Alternatively, the current engine speed and vehicle speed can be received in a communication packet as numeric values from a conventional dashboard subsystem comprising a tachometer and a speedometer. The transmission speed sensor signal can be similarly received as a digital input comprising a signal coupled to a counter or interrupt signal of the processor 304 or received as a value in a communication packet on a network or port interface from an existing subsystem of the vehicle 104. The ignition sensor signal can be configured as a digital input, wherein a HIGH value represents that the ignition is on and a LOW value represents that the ignition is OFF. Three bits of the port interface can be configured as a digital input to receive the gear shift position signal, representing eight possible gear shift positions. Alternatively, the gear shift position signal can be received in a communication packet as a numeric value on the port interface. The throttle position signal can be received as an analog input value, typically in the range 0-5 volts. Alternatively, the throttle position signal can be received in a communication packet as a numeric value on the port interface. The output of other sensors can be processed in a similar fashion.
  • Other sensors may be included and positioned in the interior space 108 of the vehicle 104. Generally, these interior sensors obtain data about the health of the driver and/or passenger(s), data about the safety of the driver and/or passenger(s), and/or data about the comfort of the driver and/or passenger(s). The health data sensors can include sensors in the steering wheel that can measure various health telemetry for the person (e.g., heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, blood presence, blood composition, etc.). Sensors in the seats may also provide for health telemetry (e.g., presence of liquid, weight, weight shifts, etc.). Infrared sensors could detect a person's temperature; optical sensors can determine a person's position and whether the person has become unconscious. Other health sensors are possible and included herein.
  • Safety sensors can measure whether the person is acting safely. Optical sensors can determine a person's position and focus. If the person stops looking at the road ahead, the optical sensor can detect the lack of focus. Sensors in the seats may detect if a person is leaning forward or may be injured by a seat belt in a collision. Other sensors can detect that the driver has at least one hand on a steering wheel. Other safety sensors are possible and contemplated as if included herein.
  • Comfort sensors can collect information about a person's comfort. Temperature sensors may detect a temperature of the interior cabin. Moisture sensors can determine a relative humidity. Audio sensors can detect loud sounds or other distractions. Audio sensors may also receive input from a person through voice data. Other comfort sensors are possible and contemplated as if included herein.
  • FIG. 6B shows an interior sensor configuration for one or more zones 512 of a vehicle 104 optionally. Optionally, the areas 508 and/or zones 512 of a vehicle 104 may include sensors that are configured to collect information associated with the interior 108 of a vehicle 104. In particular, the various sensors may collect environmental information, user information, and safety information, to name a few. Embodiments of these sensors may be as described in conjunction with FIGS. 7A-8B.
  • Optionally, the sensors may include one or more of optical, or image, sensors 622A-B (e.g., cameras, etc.), motion sensors 624A-B (e.g., utilizing RF, IR, and/or other sound/image sensing, etc.), steering wheel user sensors 642 (e.g., heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, sweat, health, etc.), seat sensors 677 (e.g., weight, load cell, moisture, electrical, force transducer, etc.), safety restraint sensors 679 (e.g., seatbelt, airbag, load cell, force transducer, etc.), interior sound receivers 692A-B, environmental sensors 694 (e.g., temperature, humidity, air, oxygen, etc.), and the like.
  • The image sensors 622A-B may be used alone or in combination to identify objects, users 216, and/or other features, inside the vehicle 104. Optionally, a first image sensor 622A may be located in a different position within a vehicle 104 from a second image sensor 622B. When used in combination, the image sensors 622A-B may combine captured images to form, among other things, stereo and/or three-dimensional (3D) images. The stereo images can be recorded and/or used to determine depth associated with objects and/or users 216 in a vehicle 104. Optionally, the image sensors 622A-B used in combination may determine the complex geometry associated with identifying characteristics of a user 216. For instance, the image sensors 622A-B may be used to determine dimensions between various features of a user's face (e.g., the depth/distance from a user's nose to a user's cheeks, a linear distance between the center of a user's eyes, and more). These dimensions may be used to verify, record, and even modify characteristics that serve to identify a user 216. As can be appreciated, utilizing stereo images can allow for a user 216 to provide complex gestures in a 3D space of the vehicle 104. These gestures may be interpreted via one or more of the subsystems as disclosed herein. Optionally, the image sensors 622A-B may be used to determine movement associated with objects and/or users 216 within the vehicle 104. It should be appreciated that the number of image sensors used in a vehicle 104 may be increased to provide greater dimensional accuracy and/or views of a detected image in the vehicle 104.
  • The vehicle 104 may include one or more motion sensors 624A-B. These motion sensors 624A-B may detect motion and/or movement of objects inside the vehicle 104. Optionally, the motion sensors 624A-B may be used alone or in combination to detect movement. For example, a user 216 may be operating a vehicle 104 (e.g., while driving, etc.) when a passenger in the rear of the vehicle 104 unbuckles a safety belt and proceeds to move about the vehicle 104. In this example, the movement of the passenger could be detected by the motion sensors 624A-B. Optionally, the user 216 could be alerted of this movement by one or more of the devices 212, 248 in the vehicle 104. In another example, a passenger may attempt to reach for one of the vehicle control features (e.g., the steering wheel 640, the console, icons displayed on the head unit and/or device 212, 248, etc.). In this case, the movement (i.e., reaching) of the passenger may be detected by the motion sensors 624A-B. Optionally, the path, trajectory, anticipated path, and/or some other direction of movement/motion may be determined using the motion sensors 624A-B. In response to detecting the movement and/or the direction associated with the movement, the passenger may be prevented from interfacing with and/or accessing at least some of the vehicle control features (e.g., the features represented by icons may be hidden from a user interface, the features may be locked from use by the passenger, combinations thereof, etc.). As can be appreciated, the user 216 may be alerted of the movement/motion such that the user 216 can act to prevent the passenger from interfering with the vehicle 104 controls. Optionally, the number of motion sensors in a vehicle 104, or areas of a vehicle 104, may be increased to increase an accuracy associated with motion detected in the vehicle 104.
  • The interior sound receivers 692A-B may include, but are not limited to, microphones and other types of acoustic-to-electric transducers or sensors. Optionally, the interior sound receivers 692A-B may be configured to receive and convert sound waves into an equivalent analog or digital signal. The interior sound receivers 692A-B may serve to determine one or more locations associated with various sounds in the vehicle 104. The location of the sounds may be determined based on a comparison of volume levels, intensity, and the like, between sounds detected by two or more interior sound receivers 692A-B. For instance, a first interior sound receiver 692A may be located in a first area of the vehicle 104 and a second interior sound receiver 692B may be located in a second area of the vehicle 104. If a sound is detected at a first volume level by the first interior sound receiver 692A and a second, higher, volume level by the second interior sound receiver 692B in the second area of the vehicle 104, the sound may be determined to be closer to the second area of the vehicle 104. As can be appreciated, the number of sound receivers used in a vehicle 104 may be in