WO2001076216A1 - Communications and control network - Google Patents

Communications and control network Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001076216A1
WO2001076216A1 PCT/GB2001/000983 GB0100983W WO0176216A1 WO 2001076216 A1 WO2001076216 A1 WO 2001076216A1 GB 0100983 W GB0100983 W GB 0100983W WO 0176216 A1 WO0176216 A1 WO 0176216A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
apparatus
interface
customer premises
permissions
respective
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB2001/000983
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
David Caldwell Mcglaughlin
Richard Charles Blyth
Stephen Michael Reeder
Jonathon Hopkins
Original Assignee
British Telecommunications Public Limited Company
Brennan, Alexander, Charles, Croxall
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to EP00302732 priority Critical
Priority to EP00302732.3 priority
Application filed by British Telecommunications Public Limited Company, Brennan, Alexander, Charles, Croxall filed Critical British Telecommunications Public Limited Company
Publication of WO2001076216A1 publication Critical patent/WO2001076216A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L63/00Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security
    • H04L63/10Network architectures or network communication protocols for network security for controlling access to network resources
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/02Mechanical actuation
    • G08B13/14Mechanical actuation by lifting or attempted removal of hand-portable articles
    • G08B13/1409Mechanical actuation by lifting or attempted removal of hand-portable articles for removal detection of electrical appliances by detecting their physical disconnection from an electrical system, e.g. using a switch incorporated in the plug connector
    • G08B13/1418Removal detected by failure in electrical connection between the appliance and a control centre, home control panel or a power supply
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B3/00Line transmission systems
    • H04B3/54Systems for transmission via power distribution lines
    • H04B3/542Systems for transmission via power distribution lines the information being in digital form
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5404Methods of transmitting or receiving signals via power distribution lines
    • H04B2203/5416Methods of transmitting or receiving signals via power distribution lines by adding signals to the wave form of the power source
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5437Wired telephone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5441Wireless systems or telephone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5445Local network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/545Audio/video application, e.g. interphone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5458Monitor sensor; Alarm systems
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L12/2816Controlling appliance services of a home automation network by calling their functionalities
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L2012/2847Home automation networks characterised by the type of home appliance used
    • H04L2012/285Generic home appliances, e.g. refrigerators

Abstract

A communications and control network includes a remote operations centre and a plurality of local control centres each interfacing with apparatuses in specified locations. Each apparatus is arranged to communicate through the electricity supply line (6) or by other means to its respective local control centre for permissions to operate. Operational circuits (17) and process control (15) are responsive to data defining capability sets (19) to determine whether a function selected is permitted.

Description

COMMUNICATIONS AND CONTROL NETWORK

The present invention relates to a communications and control network and apparatus for use therewith. More particularly the invention relates to such a communications and control network comprising at least one network operations centre adapted for communication through a switched connection oriented or connectionless telecommunications network and a multiplicity of customer premises interfaces each of which provide a localised communications network responsive to signals generated by customer premises apparatus. In published European Patent Applications Nos. 675626 and 960407 the assignee of the present invention has disclosed improved security systems using an interface ("Home Control Centre") between the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and appliances in customer premises whereby such apparatus may be less attractive to thieves since without certain permissions obtained by way of the PSTN from a remote operations centre the appliance will not function.

In further developments of the system of EP960407 disclosed in co-pending European patent applications Nos. 99302132, 99302133, 99302134 and 99302149 alternative communications methods for both communication within the customer premises and communication between the home control centre and a permission granting arrangement were disclosed.

In yet a further development disclosed in co-pending European Patent Application no. 99307981 , the customer premises interface was developed to provide an environmental alarm arrangement for simple installation and use in communal premises, for example to provide smoke or fire detection in an apartment block.

A brief introduction to the earlier arrangement and its operation will facilitate understanding of the invention hereinafter disclosed and claimed. However, for a full description of the operation of the basic system the reader should refer to the earlier applications referred to above. Thus referring to Figure 1 , in one form a control and communications network uses the PSTN 1 to effect communications between a remote operations centre 4 and customer premises 3. It will be appreciated that for simplicity only one remote operations centre is shown although there may be many such centres distributed across the PSTN.

In each customer premises 3, a home control centre 2 provides an interface for communication on the one hand by way of the customer telephone line 7 and the PSTN with the remote operations centre and on the other hand by way of the mains electricity supply 6 of the customers premises 3 with suitably adapted electrical appliances 5.

Although reference in the earlier application was to the two forms of communication mentioned, that is by superimposition of signalling on the supply line 6 and by way of the PSTN, it is noted that other communications arrangements have been proposed by the proprietor of this application including but not limited to use of cellular radio networks, satellite communications and radio and Internet links between the home control centre 2 and the remote operations centre 4. Communication between the home control centre 2 and appliances 5 may be by way of low power radio such as DECT, by way of an Intranet or by way of telephony wiring for example.

Also shown in Figure 1 is a repatriation unit 8 which enables stolen property to be identified by authorised persons for return to the owner. It will be appreciated that other control centres accessible by way of the PSTN may also benefit from the arrangement.

Suppliers of goods and services to consumers may wish to permit usage of features in dependence upon the contractual and payment arrangements made in respect of such usage by a consumer. For example, pay-per-view or other television channel access arrangements need to be controlled by the service provider. Other rental apparatus may be provided contractually with only certain features enabled to prevent abuse or misuse so that the supplier receives a fair return for the likely wear and tear on the supplied apparatus. If the consumer wishes to modify the arrangement with the supplier then in some circumstances it may be necessary for the supplier to send engineering staff to change access arrangements. Complex transmission and decoding arrangements may also be required for customers of broadcast or satellite transmissions who wish to change their supplier authority.

According to the present invention there is provided a communications and control network comprising an operations centre accessible by way of a public communications network, a plurality of customer premises interfaces each allocated to a respective customer premises or a part thereof, each of said customer premises interfaces being responsive to signalling generated by customer premises apparatus at the respective associated customer premises to provide respective operational permissions to requesting customer premises apparatus, such permissions being derived from data signals transmitted to the customer premises interface by said operations centre, said permissions enabling at least one capability selected from a respective plurality of capabilities of the requesting customer premises apparatus.

According to a first feature of the invention there is provided a customer location interface for use with a communications and control network, the interface comprising means responsive to signalling generated by customer premises apparatus at respective associated customer premises to provide respective operational permissions to requesting customer apparatus, such permissions being derived from data signals transmitted, in use, to the customer location interface by an operations centre accessible by way of a public communications network, said permissions enabling at least one capability selected from a respective plurality of capabilities of the customer premises apparatus.

According to a further feature of the invention there is provided Apparatus for use with a communications and control network, the apparatus having plurality of different operational capabilities, and including a controller connected to a signalling interface and arranged to enable different sets of capabilities of the apparatus in response to operational permissions received via the signalling interface.

A communications and control network in accordance with the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings of which:

Figure 1 is a block schematic diagram of a communications and control network;

Figure 2 is a block schematic diagram of the home control centre of figure 1 modified to provide additional features of the invention; Figure 3 is a block schematic diagram of adapted consumer premises apparatus;

Figure 4 is a flow chart showing the operation of the home control centre of figure 2; Figure 5 is a flow chart showing the operation of relevant circuits of the consumer premises equipment of figure 3;

Figure 6 is a block schematic diagram of apparatus in the remote operations centre; Figure 7 is a flow chart showing functionality of the operation of the remote operations centre of Figure 1 ;

Figure 8 shows a flow chart of an information request response in the remote operations centre;

Figure 9 shows operation of a capability change section of the operations centre;

Figure 10 shows a further flow chart in relation to a keyed changed request from a home control centre to the remote operations centre;

Figure 1 1 shows a flow chart of a part of an EPOS terminal; and

Figure 1 2 shows operation of the processor of the apparatus of Figure 3 in respect of a specific function request.

Figure 1 , to which reference has already been made, shows an implementation of a communications and control network of the kind modified by the present invention and as disclosed in European patent application number 960406. A detailed explanation of the arrangement shown in Figure 1 may be had by reference to the previous application in respect of coding of electrical appliances 5 and only a limited description of the functionality of the remote operations centre (ROC) and home control centre (HCC) in respect of the prior art will be given herein.

Referring to Figure 2, the HCC 2 of Figure 1 comprises a processor 23, with associated data stores 24, 26. As described hereinafter, the processor has an analogue shift key (ASK) signalling interface 25 for communicating on the mains electricity supply 6. For completeness it is noted that the ASK interface 25 may be replaced by other signalling arrangements communicating by way of the mains electricity supply. In alternative arrangements radio transmission or Intranet or telephony line communication may be used in place of the ASK interface 25 or in addition thereto. Thus, whilst herein communication is described as being on the mains electricity supply to electrical appliances and/or detectors and/or sensors, it should not be taken as limiting the invention to communication by way of the electricity supply. The processor is also shown as having access to a tone generator modem 22 for communication by way of network termination equipment 20 to telephone lines 7. again, while herein communication is described as being by way of the telephony network and location data is derived from calling line identity (CLI), it should be appreciated that other communications methods and location identification may be used including, but not limited to, used of cellular networks for communication including triangulation between cellular network masts to determine the location identity. Low Earth orbital satellite and/or direct radio communication between the HCC 2 and ROC 4 may also be used while global positioning by satellite (GPS) and/or burnt in identification of the HCC 2 should not be considered to be excluded.

Furthermore, in descriptions hereinafter relating to modified appliances and/or sensors and/or environmental alarms and the like, while a specific form of communication between such devices and the HCC may be specified these should not be taken as excluding other forms of communication. Referring now to figure 3, in a protected or controlled appliance (e.g. 5 of

Figure 1 ), modification of the process control 1 5 within the appliance (which may be any electrically operable or electro mechanically assisted device) requires the process control to signal to operational circuits of the appliance.

Thus the process control 1 5 has an ASK interface 14 for communicating by way of the electrical main circuit 6 with the HCC 2. The HCC 2 returns control information to the process control 1 5 by way of the mains electrical circuit 6 and the ASK interface 14 to permit or deny activation of operational circuits. As discussed in the earlier European patent applications mentioned above, one method of discouraging theft is to have the power supply of the appliance 5 cease to supply power to the operational circuits unless or until the process control 1 5 has received an appropriate code downloaded from a ROC by way of the HCC 2. Thus initially, the device until coded forwards a message to the electrical power supply circuit 6 each time it is connected requesting a coding. Once connected in premises at which a HCC exists then it will receive coding with which it will compare subsequently received codes prior to operation. On first coding it will also receive a "blanking" code which is know only to the coded appliance and to the ROC, the blanking code being transmitted to the HCC only on specific request of a legitimate authority (owner) to enable decoding of the appliance to permit its bona fide transfer to another party.

In the present invention, in addition to receiving operation and blanking codes, the HCC also includes the ability to transfer additional information to the process control 1 5 this information including identity of "capability sets" and timer information. The capability sets are programmed in to a memory 19 and define which functions of the appliance are available for use. For example, in a television set, the channels available to be used may be held in the capability set along with times at which such channels are to be available. Thus when a function is requested by use of a keypad or remote control handset, indicated by function select 13, the process control may determine from the capability set in combination with other factors such as time of day or day of week whether the appropriate function is available. The process control may thus permit or refuse activation of the appropriate function which enables the functionality of the apparatus to be varied from the ROC 4 by way of the home control 2 to the process control 15.

This facility therefore allows service providers, for example satellite or terrestrial broadcast television service providers, to permit or deny access to certain channels by way of a secure route. Further, the arrangement permits parental control of times and channels available for example. A further advantage of the arrangement hereinafter described is that appliances may be coded through the supply chain from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to retailer, to end customer so that theft in transit is more difficult and electronic sales (for example by way of the Internet) can be secured. Thus even if an attempt is made to purchase goods or services using fraudulent means, for example by quoting another person's card account number or by using a stolen credit or debit card, the goods will be of no benefit to the fraudulent user since they will be pre-coded at the point of sale to the specific premises of the proper card owner. In this way, delivery of electrical goods to a specific address is secured since any theft will leave the thief with an unusable apparatus which is readily traceable to its proper owner and which may reveal its location to proper authorities to facilitate recovery.

Turning now to figure 4, the processor 23 of the HCC 2 of Figure 2 is normally quiescent in a main state 900 until it receives, by way of the mains electrical circuit 6, an "unlock request" message (901 ) from an appliance 5. The message includes the identity of the requesting apparatus by type, manufacturer and electronic serial number. If the requesting apparatus is not in the list of appliances held in the volatile data store 24 then by way of the path 906 to 970 coding is requested from the ROC 4 by way of the PSTN 1 . Various checks are made to ensure that the requesting appliance codes appropriately and that the new equipment is now included in the appliance list. Full details of this part of the operation are disclosed in the earlier published European applications, including a more complete flow chart for those operations involved after the commencement of the Lock Enable Timer at step 910. Assuming that the requesting apparatus is in the list held in the data store 24 then at step 903 the message type is analysed to determine how the message is to be handled by the HCC. If the message is an environmental alarm (944) then it is handled in a manner described in other co-pending patent applications of the proprietor to ensure that appropriate response to the alarm occurs. This is indicated here for the sake of completeness only.

Similarly, if the message indicates a basic type appliance (that is one coded only for the purposes of permission to operate when re-connected to power after disconnection) then the Signal Group Basic route 945 is followed. Thus at 946 a check is carried out to determine whether in respect of the particular appliance the blanking code is present and, if so, the equipment is ordered to decode itself as disclosed in published European patent application no 960407 which includes a full flow chart in respect of the code blanking activity.

However, if at step 946 the blanking code is not present, this being the more usual status, then the unlock code is recovered from the data store (904) and is transmitted as an unlock response (905) to the mains electrical supply 6. It should be noted that where a precoded appliance (from an electronic sale record) is first connected to a supply in the premises 3 its unlock code will already be present in the equipment list of the HCC 2 provided that the equipment is licitly present in the premises and that the HCC has either made a connection to the ROC 4 in the period between coding and delivery and connection or has been forced to make such a call by the owner causing a reset of the HCC 2. In the alternative, where the equipment is licitly present in the premises, when the HCC receives an unlock request it will follow the path indicated at step 902 and the ROC 4 will recognise the coding request and return the appropriate (already stored) coding for the appliance to operate.

It will be realised that if the ROC receives a coding request from apparatus in an incorrect location it may not return a valid coding and may cause an alert to be provided to appropriate authorities. However, there may be advantages in allowing the apparatus to operate on a temporary basis, for example by returning a coding with a short time decay (hereinafter discussed) so that a fraudulent operator of the appliance may not realise that the authorities are aware of the illicit operation and its location. Returning once again to step 903, if a signalling group information message is received indicating a request for capability set information more detailed than a simple authorisation code, then at step 947, the processor 23 determines whether there are instructions for the apparatus in the list. If at step 947 instructions exist then the information message is returned through the ASK interface 25 at step 952 and the HCC resumes its quiescent state.

Now, if at step 947 instructions in respect of the particular apparatus have not previously been received and stored then a call is established through the PSTN to the ROC 4 and an equipment information required message is transmitted (948). The ROC 4 will respond with an equipment information response message (949) and the processor 25 determines whether the message includes information to be stored either in respect of the particular request or additional thereto (950). If not then the received information is passed through the ASK interface to the mains as a transmit information message (952) prior to the quiescent state being resumed.

If the received message from the ROC 4 includes information to be stored then the list held in the data store 24 or 25 is updated (951 ) in accordance with the message and the information responding to the request received is then transmitted as before at step 952.

Considering now the operation of process control 1 5 of figure 3 and referring also to figure 5, from a quiescent state 50, the process control may be interrupted or triggered as a result of user action or as a result of timer permissions decaying to zero. Considering first the re-connection (or first connection) of electrical power to the apparatus, as indicated at step 51 , the process control causes an Unlock Request Message to be transmitted 52 and commences a cover timer 53 for response from the HCC 2 as previously described with reference to Figure 4. Four potential exits from the timer waiting state may be received representing respectively the outputs of the HCC 2 of System Lock Enable (909), Blank Instruction (91 2), Unlock Response (905) or the internal timer of the appliance expiring with no response being received. The process followed in respect of each of these responses to an Unlock Request (SG Basic) message is fully disclosed in the prior published European Patent Applications mentioned hereinbefore and further description here is not deemed necessary.

Turning to the other possible exits from the quiescent state 50, the user may force a request to the HCC 2 by activating a reset function either directly or through remote control in order to activate or de-activate a capability in the controlled apparatus. Thus if the user has made arrangements with a supplier to allow additional functionality or reception of an additional television channel from a service provider, resetting the system (56) causes an SG Plus message (57) to be transmitted by way of the ASK interface 14 to the mains supply line 6 and thence to the HCC 2. Following transmission of the request message a cover timer is started (58) while awaiting the response from the HCC 2. If, as expected, an information message is received (59) (transmitted as hereinbefore described at 952 of Figure 4) then any additional capability set "Y" may be stored as active in the data store 16 together with an appropriate timer associated therewith (if any) at step 61 .

Alternatively, if the information message received includes a multiple capability set activate and/or deactivate instruction (possibly with respective associated decay timers) then these are stored at as indicated at steps 62 and 63.

A further facility which may be provided by the control system of the invention allows for sensors to be provided which may be smart card, smart badge, or passive or biometric sensors so that the presence or absence of a particular card or badge may be used to modify or determine the facilities provided. Thus, as indicated at step 64, if there is a change in the card presence this may cause the process control 1 5 to generate an SG plus message as before following the steps 57 et sequenda.. This enables the particular apparatus to provide certain facilities only when an appropriate card is present. Thus a television set or video may have certain capabilities turned off unless a card indicative of adult presence is present such that parental control of channels viewed for example may be effected. Sensor presence may also be a limited period authorisation such that the timer decays and causes a further SG Plus message to be transmitted as indicated at step 65. On one of the timers decaying to zero in the data store 1 6 and process control 1 5, the associated capability set "X" is marked as disabled (66) and a message transmitted as before. This will result either in an information message including a renewed time for the capability set or a disable message as appropriate through steps 59 to 63.

Note that if the cover timer started at step 58 expires (67) without an information message being received then the process control assumes that the previous capability set authorisation pattern remains in force minus any capability set (step 68) which for which the respective timer decayed to zero.

In the absence of an information message the process control may set a further timer to force an SG plus message at a subsequent time to attempt an update of the capability sets. Turning now to figure 1 2 while continuing to refer to figure 3, if, through the function select entry 1 3, a function is requested then the process control reads the current capability set(s) which are active (step 71 ) and determines whether the particular function is controlled (step 72) . If the function is an open function ("Always") then as indicated at step 73 the function is implemented and the controlled appliance responds to the function request appropriately. If the function is disabled ("Never") then a record of the request may be entered in an exception log

(step 74) and a display activated (step 75) indicating that the function is unavailable.

The third possibility is that the capability set requires that the function requested is "authorised" each time it is activated. Thus at step 76 an information request message is transmitted to the HCC 2 and a cover timer started (77). On receipt of an information response (78) the process control will store any modification to the capability set authorisation (with a decay timer if present) and will again read the capability set. If the timer set at step 77 expires then the process control may check the number of attempts made (step not shown) and will either return to reading the capability set or will step to reject the request.

Note that for any particular function request the number of attempts to check authorisation may be bounded so that only a single request for information is made in respect of the function requested and if not authorised the requested function may be rejected. It will be appreciated that the cover timer started at step 77 must be sufficient in some circumstances to allow for the HCC to effect a modem interchange with the ROC in case there should be a third party authorisation entered through the remote centre. Referring now to figure 6, the ROC in its simplest form comprises a computer

30 with associated data storage 31 and communications capabilities represented by telephone lines 37 and modems 33. Location detection represented by CLI detector 32 is also provided, noting that GPS may also be detectable. Much of the functionality of the ROC of figure 6 has been described in the proprietors earlier applications such that only a representative selection of program instances are from the previous operational description are shown in figure 7 to which reference is now also made.

Thus the first process shown (81 1 ) is a response to a HCC 2 requesting an equipment list. The HCC 2 will lose data from the volatile data store 24 (of figure 2) if power is removed for any reason. It is therefore necessary for the ROC to return a complete listing to the HCC to enable apparatus in the controlled premises to function. Thus at step 81 2 the location identity is recovered (from CLI detector 32/GPS or wired coding from the message) and a comparison made to determine whether the location is valid (line ID Registered 81 3). An attempt from an unauthorised source (including an invalid combination of identity and wired coding) will result in the termination of the interchange (81 6) and a record being made of the call (step 81 7). Appropriate authorities may be notified of the attempt if there has been an indication that the HCC making application has been fraudulently removed from its previous location. If there is a valid registration of the requesting HCC then the equipment listing and codings appropriate to the premises in which the home control is located will be loaded (step 814) and encompassed in a message for return through the PSTN (81 5) .

In the Equipment code required (step 820) process, when a request is received 820 then as previously location data is checked (822,823) before location code and equipment code and blanking codes are determined (824, 825). It should be noted here that where a pre-coded appliance (hereinafter described) causes application for an equipment code and there is an indication of invalid location of the appliance an appropriate action may be taken (steps not shown).

Once codings for the requesting appliance have been determined then an equipment code response is transmitted 827 and a timer for confirmation of coding 826 is started. If on expiry of the timer no response has been received then a further attempt to transmit codings may be made and/or a query may be entered against the record of the appliance in the appropriate equipment list. Assuming that an equipment stored confirm message is received (828) then the cover timer is stopped (829) and the process ended. Turning now to figure 8, where a message from a HCC 2 to the ROC 4 is an information request (70) as before, the location of the calling control centre is checked (71 ,72) and if not valid the request rejected (73) and a record of the attempt made (74).

Assuming validity of the information request message then data for the particular location (capability sets, timers, new apparatus) is recovered (75) from the data store 31 and an information response message encapsulating that data is transmitted (76) back through the PSTN.

In figure 9 there is shown a process whereby a service provider or appliance retailer may register changes against a particular customer location. Thus, the supplier forwards a capability change message which is received at the ROC (step 80) and the identity of the supplier checked (81 ) and validated (82). Assuming that the supplier is appropriately identified the HCC is identified from the message content and a check carried out to ensure that the HCC is registered (84).

If the capability change requested is subject to agreement from the HCC user then a check is made to ensure that the end user has given permission (85) prior to responding to the change request. If the change is simply one requiring a capability set modification then the appropriate information is amended (86) in the data store 31 so that on the next application of the respective HCC for information the amended capabilities are transmitted. A notification message is returned to the supplier at step 87 and the process terminates.

If at step 86 it is necessary to allocate a new item or appliance to the HCC then appropriate codings are generated and stored and these will be notified to the supplier so that the appliance being supplied or sold may be appropriately coded. If there is any failure of any of the validity or permit checks (82, 84, 85) a non implementation message is transmitted back to the requesting supplier (88) which may include a reason for non implementation and the interchange of information terminates (89). A record of the transaction attempt may be made in an exception log (90).

Turning now to Figure 1 1 , the supplier chain EPOS terminal may be modified to provide the interchange with the ROC 4. Thus, when a sale is being made (91 ) the customer smart card (specific to premises or credit or debit cards etc.) is used to determine the identity of the customer 92. A check on the validity of the tendered identity and/or PIN entered may be made (93) and any relevant credit authorisation acquired (step not shown). Any failure may be recorded in an exception log (94) and a notification message may be sent (95) to an appropriate third party (Credit issuer, law enforcement agency) .

Assuming now that the transaction is determined as valid (93) then a call is established to the ROC and a capability change message transmitted (96). A response timer is started (97) and a response message from the ROC awaited. If the response message is an acceptance and includes coding information then this is transferred (99) to the appliance by way of its normal communications path, probably through a mains power connection. Note that if the timer expires a number of attempts may be made to repeat the transaction validation and coding process with the ROC and only if the maximum number of attempts is exceeded (101 ) is a record made in an exception log (102).

Now if for any reason the ROC returns a not implemented message then a record may be made in the exception log and, depending upon the reason for rejection, appropriate notifications to third parties may be made.

It is here noted that where a service supplier provides capability change information to the ROC 4 the program of figure 1 1 may simply terminate once an acceptance message is returned since no coding message need be returned.

In a further process available at the ROC 4, referring now to figure 10, where a keyed entry to the HCC 2 is made once the complete change has been identified in the HCC 2 (process not shown) the HCC transmits a keyed change request to the

ROC. Such a request maybe in respect of modification of capability sets, time of availability, availability only on sensed presence and the like whereby user authorities are modified by the user.

Thus when the ROC receives a keyed change request (1 10) the HCC is identified (1 1 1 ) and the usual identity and validity checks are carried out (1 1 2, 1 13 1 14). Assuming that the request is valid then the data for the appropriate HCC is recovered (1 1 5) from the data bank 31 to enable a check to be carried out (1 1 6) on any required PIN entry or smart card presence prior to modification of the respective data and an information message including the updated information being transmitted (1 1 8). For the avoidance of doubt it is here noted that the term HCC should not be construed as limiting the application of the invention to domestic premises since the control mechanisms and methods disclosed hereinbefore may be equally applied to non domestic premises with little variation in the implementation.

Claims

1 . A communications and control network comprising an operations centre accessible by way of a public communications network, a plurality of customer premises interfaces each allocated to a respective customer premises or a part thereof, each of said customer premises interfaces being responsive to signalling generated by customer premises apparatus at the respective associated customer premises to provide respective operational permissions to requesting customer premises apparatus, such permissions being derived from data signals transmitted to the customer premises interface by said operations centre, said permissions enabling at least one capability selected from a respective plurality of capabilities of the requesting customer premises apparatus.
2. A customer location interface for use with a communications and control network, the interface comprising means responsive to signalling generated by customer premises apparatus at respective associated customer premises to provide respective operational permissions to requesting customer apparatus, such permissions being derived from data signals transmitted, in use, to the customer location interface by an operations centre accessible by way of a public communications network, said permissions enabling at least one capability selected from a respective plurality of capabilities of the customer premises apparatus.
3. An inteface according to claim 2, in which the interface is arranged to store data defining different sets of capabilities for a respective apparatus, and subsequently to transmit the said data to the apparatus.
4. A network or interface according to any one of claims 1 to 3, in which the interface is arranged to signal to the operations centre data identifying the or each apparatus on the premises, in use the operations centre transmitting in response to the data identifying the apparatus the said signals from which operational permissions are derived.
5. Apparatus for use with a communications and control network, the apparatus having plurality of different operational capabilities, and including a controller connected to a signalling interface and arranged to enable different sets of capabilities of the apparatus in response to operational permissions received via the signalling interface.
6. A network, interface or apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a sensor positioned at the customer location and operatively connected to at least one of the interface and the apparatus, and arranged to read user identity data from a user identity token allocated to a user, and in which the enabling of a capability set of the apparatus is dependent on the presence of an authorised user identified by a respective identity token.
7. A network, interface or appratus according to any one of the preceding claims, in which the apparatus is connected to a fixed power supply circuit and receives the said permissions by signalling over the said power supply circuit.
8. A method of controlling apparatus in customer premises comprising the steps of receiving operational permissions at the apparatus, the said permissions being derived from data signals transmitted to a customer premises interface by an operations centre remote from the customer premises, and enabling a selected one of a plurality of sets of capabilities of the apparatus in response to the said permissions.
9. A method according to claim 8, including reading data indicating the identity of a user in the locality of the apparatus, and in which the enabling of at least one of the different capability sets is dependent on the presence of an authorised user.
PCT/GB2001/000983 2000-03-31 2001-03-07 Communications and control network WO2001076216A1 (en)

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Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7897140B2 (en) 1999-12-23 2011-03-01 Health Research, Inc. Multi DTPA conjugated tetrapyrollic compounds for phototherapeutic contrast agents

Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1996003728A1 (en) * 1994-07-21 1996-02-08 Baljit Singh Kang Enhancing security of electrical appliances
WO1998004967A1 (en) * 1996-07-25 1998-02-05 Peter David Collins Immobilisation protection system for electronic components
EP0869462A1 (en) * 1997-02-17 1998-10-07 BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS public limited company Security systems

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1996003728A1 (en) * 1994-07-21 1996-02-08 Baljit Singh Kang Enhancing security of electrical appliances
WO1998004967A1 (en) * 1996-07-25 1998-02-05 Peter David Collins Immobilisation protection system for electronic components
EP0869462A1 (en) * 1997-02-17 1998-10-07 BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS public limited company Security systems

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7897140B2 (en) 1999-12-23 2011-03-01 Health Research, Inc. Multi DTPA conjugated tetrapyrollic compounds for phototherapeutic contrast agents

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