WO2013175741A1 - Apparatus and method for transmitting messages - Google Patents

Apparatus and method for transmitting messages Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013175741A1
WO2013175741A1 PCT/JP2013/003134 JP2013003134W WO2013175741A1 WO 2013175741 A1 WO2013175741 A1 WO 2013175741A1 JP 2013003134 W JP2013003134 W JP 2013003134W WO 2013175741 A1 WO2013175741 A1 WO 2013175741A1
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Prior art keywords
alert
device
slave device
advertising message
message
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PCT/JP2013/003134
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French (fr)
Inventor
Olivier Dong
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Nec Corporation
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Priority to GB1209042.9 priority Critical
Priority to GBGB1209042.9A priority patent/GB201209042D0/en
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W68/00User notification, e.g. alerting and paging, for incoming communication, change of service or the like
    • H04W68/005Transmission of information for alerting of incoming communication
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/80Services using short range communication, e.g. near-field communication [NFC], radio-frequency identification [RFID] or low energy communication
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W76/00Connection management
    • H04W76/10Connection setup
    • H04W76/14Direct-mode setup
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/18Self-organising networks, e.g. ad-hoc networks or sensor networks

Abstract

A communication system is described that allows a Bluetooth slave device (12) to transmit a message if a sensed condition is abnormal. A master device (10) can receive the message and notify a user of the occurrence of the abnormal condition.

Description

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR TRANSMITTING MESSAGES

The present invention relates to the transmission of a message from a slave device to a master device using a Bluetooth (RTM) short-range wireless protocol. The invention is particularly applicable, but by no means limited, to delivering an alert message to a mobile communications device using the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol.

As those skilled in the art will appreciate, Bluetooth (RTM) is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices. It operates using short-wavelength radio transmissions within the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band from 2400 MHz to 2480 MHz. At the time of writing, the current version of the Bluetooth specification is v4.0.

The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol is a subset of Bluetooth v4.0, and implements a new protocol stack for the rapid build-up of simple links. It is aimed at very low power applications. BLE technology operates in the same spectrum range (2402 MHz to 2480 MHz) as "classic" Bluetooth technology, but uses a different set of channels. Instead of seventy-nine 1 MHz wide channels as used in classic Bluetooth technology, BLE technology uses forty 2 MHz wide channels.

Using BLE, slave devices such as data loggers or other accessories can be produced, which transmit data over a short range (typically up to about 50 metres) using the BLE protocol, and which can be powered by coin cell batteries.

Typically, such data loggers (or other BLE accessories) are made up of one or more sensors collecting various data (e.g. temperature, humidity, movement, etc.) and a BLE module configured to transmit these collected data to a master device over a short-range Bluetooth wireless link. Examples of such master BLE devices include mobile communications devices such as mobile cellular telephones (for example, smartphones), tablet computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop and notebook PCs, and also "non-mobile" data processing devices such as desktop PCs (provided they are suitably equipped to receive data via a short-range wireless link).

Data loggers are usually configured to monitor one or more specific phenomena, such as detecting movement, monitoring temperature, monitoring humidity, monitoring sound level, detecting gas molecules, etc.

Most data loggers do not need to communicate with master devices all the time. Specifically, there is no need for them to send data to the master device continuously if the detected data are "normal" (i.e. representative of expected conditions or stable parameters). However, they should be able to alert the master device when something unusual happens, for example if an unusual temperature is detected (which may be indicative of the outbreak of fire), or an increase in humidity (which may indicate a water leak), or an increase in the concentration of certain gas molecules (representative of a gas leak), or the presence of a person (e.g. an intruder), or such like.

The inventor has realised that a problem with the existing BLE protocol is that there is only one way in which a master device is able to discover other nearby BLE devices, such as slave BLE devices, and that is by producing a list of all the discovered devices, from which the user of the master device can then select one or more devices to connect with. In the event that one of these nearby devices, in particular a slave device, has some abnormal data to be reported to the master device, there is currently no way for the master device to distinguish this particular slave device from the other nearby slave devices. Moreover, it would be necessary for the master device to explicitly establish a connection with this slave device, for which end user action may be required, before the master device is able to receive the slave device's report containing the detected abnormal data.

This gives rise to a fundamental problem, namely that the end user will not be made aware of urgent, abnormal or unexpected data detected by a slave device unless he explicitly connects to the slave device in advance. However, by the very nature of urgent, abnormal or unexpected data, the user is unlikely to be aware in advance that it will be forthcoming, and so may well not have established a connection between the slave and master devices in advance of the urgent, abnormal or unexpected event occurring. This is illustrated schematically in Fig. 1, showing that user interaction is required to explicitly connect the master device (in this case, a BLE-enabled cellphone) to the slave device (e.g. a BLE accessory or other such monitoring device) in order to retrieve or receive urgent, abnormal or unexpected data from the slave device.

An example of such a scenario is that a user has put a BLE-enabled humidity sensor (slave device) in the cellar of his house to detect possible water leakage. Hopefully, of course, there is no water leakage all the time, and so the humidity sensor would collect usual (normal) values most of the time. The user would only check the collected values from time to time (e.g. once a week) by connecting his BLE-enabled handset (the master device) to the humidity sensor.

However, let us imagine that a water leakage has now suddenly occurred. Since there is no way for the sensor to immediately alert the user, the latter will only discover the water leakage the next time he connects to the humidity sensor, which could be a number of days after the leakage has started. By this time, the leakage could have caused serious damage to the cellar.

Other such problem scenarios can readily be envisaged, such as the outbreak of fire, escape of gas, etc., all of which may go unnoticed by the user using current technology. This is as a result of the fact that, with conventional BLE-enabled slave devices, the onus is on the user to first establish a connection with the slave device and then check the data that has been collected.

Embodiments of the invention aim to at least partially address some of the problems with the prior art described above.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a slave device comprising: means for receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition; means for processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is normal, to generate and transmit, using a short-range wireless protocol, a first advertising message identifying the slave device; and means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, to generate and transmit, using the short-range wireless protocol, a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition.

By transmitting, in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, the second advertising message, which is distinguishable from the first advertising message (the first advertising message being indicative of normal conditions), this provides a mechanism by which a master device can alert the user to the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition without explicit user action being necessary.

The one or more predetermined criteria are preferably user-configurable, thereby enabling the user to specify the level or conditions at which a sensed condition will be deemed to be abnormal. The user can thereby adjust the behaviour of the slave device to suit his personal preferences and the specific circumstances of the sensor, such as its location, function, operating environment, etc.

Preferably the short-range wireless protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.

The second advertising message may be an alert message. The alert message may comprise an indication of the priority of the alert.

Optionally, the second advertising message may include data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device. This may be conditional upon the priority of the alert being high. Thus, the user may be automatically sent details of the detected abnormal condition if the alert is deemed to be of high priority. However, by not sending the details under less urgent (lower priority) circumstances, the user need not be unnecessarily inconvenienced, and less data need be transmitted, thereby saving bandwidth and energy.

Preferably the slave device is configured to transmit the second advertising messages repeatedly until it receives an acknowledgement of receipt by a master device. Although it may be transmitted continuously, in order to save energy the second advertising message is preferably repeatedly transmitted in a periodic manner, with the transmitted messages being separated by periods of non-transmission. The frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions may be dependent on the priority of the alert (in particular, more frequent transmissions under more urgent circumstances, to improve the likelihood of alerting the user at the earliest opportunity). Alternatively, or in addition, the frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions of the second advertising message may be dependent on the electrical power available to the slave device (i.e. more frequent transmissions if more power is available).

As well as, or instead of, reporting on externally-sensed conditions, the second message may comprise information on the operational status of the slave device itself (for example, to notify the user of the device's battery being low, or a faulty sensor, or some other operational problem).

More generally, the second advertising message preferably comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.

For improved security, at least part of the second advertising message may be encrypted such that only authorised master device(s) are able to decrypt the content.

The slave device may further comprise the sensor device. The sensor device may be any device which provides a signal representative of a sensed condition, and may, by way of example only, comprise one or any combination of the following: a movement detector, a temperature detector, a humidity detector, a gas detector, a light sensor, a sound sensor, a vibration sensor, a mechanical pressure sensor, a barometer, a digital compass.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a master device comprising: means for receiving a message transmitted by a slave device using a short-range wireless protocol during a scan performed by the master device for available devices with which the master device is able to connect; means for determining whether the message is a first advertising message identifying the slave device, or a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of an abnormal condition sensed by a sensor device associated with the slave device; and means for notifying a user of the occurrence of the abnormal condition in the event that the message is a said second advertising message.

Merely by way of example, the master device may be a cellular phone, a tablet computer, a personal digital assistant, or a personal computer.

As with the slave device above, preferably the short-range wireless protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.

The second advertising message may be an alert message. Preferably the master device is configured to generate an alert perceivable by a user in response to receiving an alert message. The nature of the alert generated may be dependent on an indication of the priority of the alert comprised within the message (i.e. a more noticeable alert under more urgent circumstances).

Preferably the master device is further operable to receive data comprised within the second advertising message, such as data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device, or information on the operational status of the slave device.

Preferably the master device further comprises means to user-configure and transmit to the slave device one or more criteria on the basis of which the slave device determines whether a sensed condition is normal or abnormal.

Preferably the master device further comprises means to decrypt encrypted content of the second advertising message.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of transmitting a message using a short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a slave device and comprising: receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition; processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and in the event that the sensed condition is normal, generating and transmitting, using the short-range wireless protocol, a first advertising message identifying the slave device; or in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, generating and transmitting, using the short-range wireless protocol, a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of receiving a message using a short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a master device and comprising: receiving a message transmitted by a slave device during a scan performed by the master device for available devices with which the master device is able to connect; determining whether the message is a first advertising message identifying the slave device, or a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of an abnormal condition sensed by a sensor device associated with the slave device; and notifying a user of the occurrence of the abnormal condition in the event that the message is a said second advertising message.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention there is provided a slave device comprising: means for receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition; means for processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, to generate and transmit, using a short-range wireless protocol, an advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition, the advertising message being detectable by a master device when performing a scan for available devices with which the master device is able to connect; wherein the advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.

The first data structure may further specify the priority of the alert.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of transmitting a message using a short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a slave device and comprising: receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition; processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, generating and transmitting, using the short-range wireless protocol, an advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition, the advertising message being detectable by a master device when performing a scan for available devices with which the master device is able to connect; wherein the advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.

Finally, according to a seventh aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer implementable instructions product comprising computer implementable instructions for causing a programmable processing device to become configured as a slave processing device or a master processing device as described herein, or to implement any of the processing methods described herein.

Fig. 1 schematically illustrates, by way of background, the problem with conventional BLE-enabled devices, whereby user interaction would be required to explicitly connect a master device (in this case, a BLE-enabled cellphone) to a slave device (e.g. a BLE accessory or other such monitoring device) in order to retrieve or receive urgent, abnormal or unexpected data from the slave device; Fig. 2 schematically illustrates a scenario in which the slave device (e.g. BLE accessory) is configured to broadcast a new advertising message that immediately notifies the master device of urgent, abnormal or unexpected data, without the need for the user to have first established a connection between the master and slave devices; Fig. 3 illustrates the structure of a proposed "ADV_ALERT" advertising message; Fig. 4 is a block diagram of a slave device; Fig. 5 is a block diagram of a master device; and Fig. 6 illustrates an example of a message sequence chart for transmitting and receiving an "ADV_ALERT" advertising message.

Overview

The present work enhances the current BLE Advertising protocol in order to address the issues described above. More particularly, the present work introduces a new way of allowing a slave device (e.g. a BLE accessory) to directly trigger a perceptible alert (e.g. a visual indication, sound or vibration, etc.) on a master device (e.g. a cellphone) without explicit user actions being necessary.

To illustrate in broad terms the development made by the present work, Fig. 1 illustrates the problem with accessories or slave devices under the conventional BLE protocol. It should be noted that the inclusion of Fig. 1 and the description which relates to it is merely to provide background to the present invention, and does not constitute any kind of acknowledgement that such a system has ever been made available to the public or forms part of the state of the art.

To begin with, as shown in frame 1 of Fig. 1, a BLE accessory 10 (initially disconnected from a user device) is broadcasting an advertising message (e.g. ADV_IND). For the purposes of illustration, the message is shown as being "I'm here!", but could in practice be in response to the device 10 having detected an abnormal or unexpected situation, or some other emergency, which would ideally warrant urgent attention from a user. However, as illustrated in frame 2, under the current protocol the user's BLE cellphone 12 would only be able to detect the accessory 10 in the same manner as any other BLE accessory, such as a BLE watch 14.

Thus, as shown in frame 3, the user would need to explicitly connect the cellphone 12 to the accessory 10 by a short-range wireless link. As part of this process, the cellphone 12 would provide a list of available devices to the user for the user to select a device with which a connection should be established. A drawback is that user action would be required at this stage, thus preventing the accessory 10 from automatically alerting the user to the emergency or abnormal or unexpected situation.

As illustrated in frame 4, once the user has connected the cellphone 12 to the accessory 10, the user would then be able to retrieve data from the accessory 10, which may cause an alert symbol 16 to be displayed on the cellphone 12, and/or an audible alert to be sounded by the cellphone 12, to draw the user's attention to the emergency or abnormal or unexpected situation. This completes the process that would take place under the conventional BLE protocol.

It will be appreciated that, under the conventional BLE protocol, if a master device were to start the scanning process, it would obtain a list of all the detected devices around it. However, in the present work, we describe a new way to allow a slave device to be distinguishable from others if it has something unusual, unexpected or urgent to report to a master device. This involves the transmission of a new Advertising message: "ADV_ALERT".

In the present work, a BLE accessory, comprising or connected to a sensor and a BLE transceiver module, is configured to continuously or periodically capture data. The BLE accessory is further configured to analyze the captured data. In the event that predetermined criteria or conditions to generate an alert are met (e.g. a number of consecutive abnormal values have been detected), the BLE accessory is configured to format and then transmit a new ADV_ALERT message. The predetermined criteria (e.g. numerical values, parameters, binary states, etc.) on the basis of which the BLE accessory distinguishes between normal and abnormal conditions are preferably configurable by the user, for example using the master device.

A master BLE device (e.g. cellphone) in a scanning mode is operable to receive and analyze this ADV_ALERT message, and then one or more logical entities in the master device are configured to alert the end user (using sound, vibration, a pop up window on the screen, an image, etc.) as the final processing result of the received ADV_ALERT message.

As mentioned above, the master BLE device should be in a scanning mode in order to receive the ADV_ALERT message. This can be automatically and easily achieved, by configuring the device to start scanning when it is connected to a specific wi-fi access point (at home, or in the office, etc.), for example, or when it is at a particular GPS position, or at a specific time of the day, etc.

In effect, with the present work, the BLE Advertising protocol is enhanced in order to allow a slave device (e.g. a BLE accessory) to directly alert a master BLE device without explicit user actions. This enhancement makes viable and gives real sense to BLE accessories such as data loggers/monitors.

The operation of an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in Fig. 2. In frame 1 of Fig. 2, a disconnected BLE accessory 10 is broadcasting the new ADV_ALERT advertising message, depicted here as "I'm here and have urgent data to transmit!". As above, this message is for the purposes of illustration only, and could in practice be representative of an abnormal or unexpected situation, or some other emergency, which would warrant urgent attention from a user. The BLE accessory 10 broadcasts the message as soon as it detects the abnormal data. This is done independently from any master device since, in BLE, the slave is able to enter the Advertising mode (i.e. to start broadcasting Advertising messages) regardless of the master being present or not present. The master, when entering into the scanning mode (e.g. at power up stage), checks whether or not there are any Advertising messages from the Advertising channels. If the master detects an Advertising message, it can proceed with further actions such as asking for more details from the slave or directly asking for a connection establishment.

Thus, in frame 2, the user's BLE cellphone 12, in scanning mode, receives and recognises the new ADV_ALERT advertising message that is being broadcast, and is able to immediately notify the user, for example by displaying an alert symbol 16 on the cellphone 12 and/or sounding an audible alert, automatically and without explicit user action being necessary.

As shown in frame 3, if the user wishes, he can go on to make an explicit connection between the cellphone 12 and the accessory 10, and can retrieve data 18 from the accessory 10 in order to obtain more detail of the event detected by the accessory 10. Optionally, however, the data 18 may also be included in the ADV_ALERT message.

The new ADV_ALERT Advertising message that has been developed will now be described.

1. Definition of a new Advertising message:

Currently the Bluetooth v4.0 specifications define the following Advertising message types for BLE devices:
0000 ADV_IND
0001 ADV_DIRECT_IND
0010 ADV_NONCONN_IND
0011 SCAN_REQ
0100 SCAN_RSP
0101 CONNECT_REQ
0110 ADV_SCAN_IND

In the present work, a new Advertising message type has been created:
0111 ADV_ALERT

Also defined is a new "Advertising_Type" value for this new message for the HCI_LE_Set_Advertising_Parameters command (paragraph 7.8.5 in Bluetooth V4.0, volume 2):
0x04 : Connectable undirected alert advertising (ADV_ALERT)

This HCI command (HCI_LE_Set_Advertising_Parameters) is used each time a device wants to broadcast Advertising messages. It allows the "Host" components (GATT, Profiles, etc.) to ask the "Controller" components to set the parameters of the Advertising message the device wants to broadcast. Typical parameters are: advertising type, advertising duration, etc. Usage of this message is illustrated later in Fig. 6 (LESet Advertising param (advertising_type = ADV_ALERT)).

The global structure (header + payload) of the new ADV_ALERT message is similar to the existing ones as defined in the paragraph 2.3 of the Bluetooth v4.0 specs, volume 6.

The actual content of the payload will be different and is described in section 2 below.

2. Definition of new data structures

The payload part of the ADV_ALERT message, as sent by a slave device (e.g. sensor), contains data to indicate that the message is an alert message and that it should be automatically received and acted upon by the master device without the user needing to establish an explicit connection between the master and slave devices beforehand. The payload part of the message may optionally contain details of the abnormal or urgent information that the slave device (e.g. sensor) wishes to report to a master device.

Two new Advertising Data structures (AD structures) are defined with regard to the alert message:
- One to notify the user of the priority of the alert (see section 2a below)
- One to report additional data (see section 2b below)

A primary goal of a first embodiment is simply to allow the user to be notified or alerted that something is wrong. There is no need (i.e. it is not mandatory) to immediately send the actual captured data directly to the user. However, in other embodiments the actual captured data may also be transmitted. These embodiments will be described in more detail below.

2a. AD Structure for the Alert Priority

This structure contains the priority level of the alert to be transmitted by the slave device (e.g. sensor), as follows:

- AD Type:
--Alert Priority (0xFD)
- AD Data:
--0x01: High
--x02: Medium
--0x03: Low

This AD structure may be used in the ADV_ALERT message, as will be described in section 3 below.

2b. AD Structure for the Alert Data

This structure allows the slave device (e.g. sensor) to send additional data along with the alert.

In the present work, the corresponding AD Type is defined; and the content of the AD Data part is left open as, in practice, this will be specific to the implementation of each sensor
- AD Type:
--Alert Data (0xFE)
- AD Data: implementation specific

This AD Structure is optional in the ADV_ALERT message, and is discussed further in section 3 below.

It should be noted that all the hexadecimal values (0x..) used herein are merely given as examples, as other values could be used, as those skilled in the art will appreciate.

3. ADV_ALERT message structure overview

Fig. 3 illustrates a possible structure of the proposed new "ADV_ALERT" message. The message comprises a header part 31 that is 16 bits long and includes a length field, and a payload part 32 of the length as defined in the header 31.

The header 31 includes a block of data 33, 4 bits in length, specifying the PDU (Protocol Data Unit) Type. Conventionally, the PDU Type may be any of the following:

0000 - denoting ADV_IND
0001 - denoting ADV_DIRECT_IND
0010 - denoting ADV_NONCONN_IND
0011 - denoting SCAN_REQ
0100 - denoting SCAN_RSP
0101 - denoting CONNECT_REQ
0110 - denoting ADV_SCAN_IND

However, in the present embodiment, to denote an ADV_ALERT message, the PDU Type is set to a new value, 0111:

0111 - denoting ADV_ALERT

The header 31 may also include a block of data 34 accompanying the PDU Type field 33.

The payload part 32 of the message includes an AdvA field 35, 6 octets in length, and accompanying AdvData 36, which may be 0-31 octets in length. The AdvData may contain any number (N) of AD structures, e.g. "AD structure 1" 37, "AD structure 2" 38, further AD structures 39, "AD structure N" 40, and a final block 41 containing null data 000.0000.

In the present work, "AD structure 1" 37 is used to indicate the alert priority. This block contains a length field 42 and the accompanying data 43 (having a length specified in the length field 42). The accompanying data 43 comprises the AD Type 46 and the accompanying AD Data 47. The AD Type is set to 0xFD (signifying "alert priority"), and the corresponding AD Data value is set to 0x01 (signifying "high priority"), 0x02 ("medium priority") or 0x03 ("low priority"), as discussed in section 2a above.

"AD structure 2" 38 can optionally be used to convey more detailed data regarding the alert. This block contains a length field 44 and the accompanying data 45 (having a length specified in the length field 44). The accompanying data 45 comprises the AD Type 48 and the accompanying AD Data 49. If this is used, the AD Type 48 is set to 0xFE (signifying "alert data"). The corresponding AD Data 49 may contain the actual data collected by the slave device (e.g. sensor). Alternatively, the AD Data 49 may contain data representative of the data collected by the slave device - for example data produced as a result of the sensor processing or filtering the raw data in some way, or a summary of the collected data, etc.

4. Slave Device structure

Fig. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the main components of a BLE-enabled accessory 10, which operates here as the slave device, equipped to receive data from a separate or inbuilt sensor 11.

The accessory 10 has a transceiver circuit 51 which is operable to transmit signals to, and to receive signals from, a master device such as the cellphone 12 via at least one antenna 50. The operation of the transceiver circuit 51 is controlled by a controller 53 in accordance with software stored in memory 54. The accessory 10 also has a sensor interface 52 for receiving data from a sensing device 11 such as a temperature or humidity sensor, or a motion detector.

The software includes, among other things, an operating system 55, communications control module 56 and a BLE core 57. The BLE core 57 includes a host layer 58 and an LE controller layer 59.

5. Master Device structure

Fig. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the main components of a BLE-enabled mobile phone 12, which operates here as the master device. The mobile phone 8 has a transceiver circuit 61 which is operable to transmit signals to, and to receive signals from, BLE enabled accessories via at least one antenna 60. The operation of the transceiver circuit 61 is controlled by a controller 63 in accordance with software stored in memory 64. The phone 12 also has a user interface 62 (typically comprising a display and a keypad or touchscreen, etc.) to allow a user to interact with the phone 12.

The software includes, among other things, an operating system 65, communications control module 66, BLE core 67 and applications module 70. The BLE core 67 includes a host layer 68 and an LE controller layer 69. The applications module 70 includes an applications manager 71 and a user interface driver 72. The user interface driver 72 controls the operation of the user interface 62 via the controller 63.

6. Example Message Sequence Chart implementing the proposed technique

Fig. 6 illustrates an example of a message sequence chart implementing the proposed technique.

The BLE accessory (slave) device 10 includes, or is connected to, a sensor 11, which may be, for example, a temperature or humidity sensor, or a motion detector. Under normal operation, a succession of normal measurement values are transmitted from the sensor 11 to the host 58 of the BLE core 57 of the slave device 10. However, if an abnormal value is transmitted from the sensor 11 to the host 58, for which the slave device has been configured to send the user an urgent alert, then the following sequence of events occurs:

Firstly, within the BLE core 57 of the BLE accessory 10, an "HCI_LE_Set_ Advertising_Parameters" message or command signal is sent from the host 58 to the LE Controller (link layer) 59, setting "advertising_type = ADV_ALERT".

Secondly, within the BLE core 57 of the BLE accessory 10, an "HCI_LE_Set_ Advertising_Data" message or command signal is sent from the host 58 to the LE Controller (link layer) 59, setting (in this example) "Alert Priority = High". In alternative situations, the Alert Priority may be set to "Medium" or "Low".

Thirdly, also within the BLE core 57 of the BLE accessory 10, an "HCI_LE_Set_ Advertising_Enable" message or command signal is sent from the host 58 to the link layer 59.

An ADV_ALERT message is then sent from the LE Controller (link layer) 59 and transmitted via the transceiver circuit 51 and the antenna 50 of the BLE accessory 10 to the master device 12 operating in a scanning state.

With reference back to Fig. 3, since in this example the Alert Priority is High, in the ADV_ALERT message that is transmitted, within "AD Structure 1" 37 the AD Type 46 is set to 0xFD (denoting "Alert Priority") and the AD Data 47 is set to 0x01 (denoting "High").

The ADV_ALERT message is received by the antenna 60 and transceiver circuit 61 of the master BLE device (e.g. cellphone) 12, operating in a scanning state. The incoming message is passed to the BLE core 67 by the controller 63 of the master device.

Upon receiving the incoming message, the BLE core 67 of the master device 12, operating in the scanning state, determines whether the incoming message is an ADV_ALERT message or some other kind of message. It will be appreciated that, under normal (i.e. non-urgent/non-emergency) conditions, the message received by the master device 12 during the scan will not be an ADV_ALERT message, but instead will comprise a conventional Advertising message as currently defined in the Bluetooth specifications.

In the event that the BLE core 67 of the master device 12 determines that the message transmitted by a slave device 10 is an ADV_ALERT message, then it is processed in the following manner:

Within the BLE core 67 of the master device 12, in response to the receipt of the ADV_ALERT message, an "LE Advertising Report" event or command signal is sent from the LE Controller (link layer) 69 to the host 68. The host 68 detects that the message is an ADV_ALERT message and, in response, sends an alert message or command signal to the applications manager 71. The alert message or signal specifies that sensor "X" 11 has generated an alert, and that the alert priority is high (i.e. corresponding to the priority level specified by the accessory device 10 as mentioned above).

The applications manager 71 then sends a message or command signal to the user interface driver 72, causing an alert symbol 16 to be displayed and/or an audible alert to be sounded via a user interface 62 of the master device 12, and thereby alerting the user to the unusual or unexpected occurrence that the accessory device 10 has detected.

If any other slave devices report back with response packets during the scan performed by the master device then, preferably, they are added to a list for subsequent possible selection by the user; priority is given to delivering the alert notification to the user.

7. Slave device - message broadcasting options

Preferably the slave device 10 has the capability to transmit both conventional advertising messages and the new ADV_ALERT messages.

The slave device 10 can be set to broadcast conventional BLE advertising messages under normal conditions, to indicate that the slave device is working properly and that the sensed conditions are within normal parameters. Depending on how the slave device is configured, it may broadcast the conventional advertising messages periodically (e.g. once a minute, once an hour, etc...) of its own accord. It may also be set to broadcast a conventional advertising message in direct response to receiving an interrogation request from the master device 12, or in response to some other input from a user (for example pressing a physical button on the slave device).

On the other hand, ADV_ALERT messages will be broadcast by the slave device 10 as soon as abnormal conditions are detected. According to the implementation, this message may be broadcast continuously or, for example, every 30 seconds, every minute, etc. The slave device continues to broadcast the alert message until the master device acknowledges it (preferably even if the detected values return to normal some time later).

The frequency with which the slave device 10 broadcasts its ADV_ALERT messages may be dependent on the severity of the incident detected by the sensor and the priority of the alert. For example, if the incident is very severe and has been designated high priority, then the slave device may broadcast its ADV_ALERT message continuously, to maximise the likelihood of it being detected by the master device 12. On the other hand, if the incident is not particularly serious and has been designated low priority, then the slave device may broadcast its ADV_ALERT message once every minute. ADV_ALERT messages corresponding to a medium priority incident may be broadcast at some intermediate frequency, such as every 30 seconds.

The frequency with which the slave device 10 broadcasts an ADV_ALERT message may also depend on the electrical power available to the device. For example, if power consumption is not an issue (e.g. the slave device is mains powered), then it can broadcast the alert message continuously. That is to say, the transceiver circuit 51 of the slave device is always in an active mode, and does not enter a "sleep" mode. On the other hand, if power saving is a consideration (e.g. the slave device operates using a coin cell battery), then the transceiver circuit 51 could be configured to broadcast the ADV_ALERT message on a regular time period basis (e.g. once every minute, etc...), and to enter a "sleep" mode (in which it is inactive) between the periodic broadcasts, in order to conserve energy.

8. Slave device - data attachment options

The slave device may be configured to transmit the ADV_ALERT messages with or without accompanying data, as follows:

First embodiment - alert transmitted without accompanying data
In a first embodiment, the ADV_ALERT message is transmitted from the BLE slave device 10 to the master device 12 without any detailed data captured by the sensor. The user can then, if he wishes, obtain details of the data collected by the sensor by establishing an explicit connection between the master device 12 and the corresponding slave device 10.

Second embodiment - alert transmitted with accompanying data
In a second embodiment, the ADV_ALERT message is transmitted from the BLE slave device 10 to the master device 12 together with data representative of the data captured by the sensor - for example the raw data values detected by the sensor, or data produced as a result of the BLE accessory 10 processing or filtering the raw data in some way, or a summary of the collected data, etc.

Third embodiment - alert transmitted with accompanying data depending on priority
The slave device 10 may be configured to include data with the alert message depending on the severity of the incident detected by the sensor and the priority of the alert. Furthermore, the master device 12 may be configured to respond differently depending on the severity of the alert.

For example, if the incident detected by the sensor is not of a serious nature (e.g. measured data values only slightly out of the ordinary), the slave device 10 may designate the alert as being low priority, and transmit the alert message without any accompanying data. On the other hand, if the incident detected by the sensor is more serious (e.g. measured data values significantly out of the ordinary) the slave device 10 may designate the alert as being high priority, and transmit the alert message with accompanying data.

At the master device 12, the user may be alerted to the arrival of an incoming ADV_ALERT message in a low-key way if the alert is low priority, for example by displaying a discreet icon. Alternatively, if the alert is high priority, the master device 12 may alert the user to the arrival of the incoming ADV_ALERT message in a more noticeable way, for example by displaying a larger alert icon and/or by sounding an audible alert.

9. Further Modifications and Alternatives

9.1 Response of slave device to interrogation messages

The slave device 10 may be configured to send an advertising message in response to receiving an interrogation message sent by a master device 12.

Preferably, the slave device 10 is configured always to respond to the receipt of an interrogation message, the nature of the response being dependent on the sensed conditions being normal (in which case a conventional response message is sent), or abnormal (in which case a new ADV_ALERT advertising message is sent).

In an alternative embodiment, the slave device 10 may be configured to only respond to the interrogation message when it has abnormal conditions to report. That is to say, no response message whatsoever is sent if the slave device has no abnormal conditions to report.

9.2 Alternative ways of displaying potential slave devices identified by the master device during the scan

As an alternative to the embodiments described above, the applications manager 71 of the master device 12 may be configured to produce a list of all available potential slave devices that have been detected by the master device - including any transmitting an ADV_ALERT message, together with any which send normal response messages. Within the list, those devices not transmitting an ADV_ALERT response message are presented in a conventional manner, whereas any devices transmitting an ADV_ALERT message are presented in a more noticeable manner (for example by highlighting the names of such a device within the list by using a different colour or font, or by displaying an alert icon alongside the name of the device).

10. Alternative solution using (extending) existing Advertising messages

As described above, this work mainly discloses a solution based on a new Advertising message (ADV_ALERT) including new data structures (the two new AD structures described in sections 2a and 2b above).

However, it would be also possible to solve the described issue by extending the following (existing) Advertising messages to include the previously-defined new AD structures:
- ADV_IND
- ADV_DIRECT_IND
- ADV_NONCONN_IND

The structures of these "extended" advertising messages (i.e. existing advertising messages including new AD structures) are very similar to the ADV_ALERT message structure as shown in Fig. 3. The main difference is the value of the "PDU Type" parameter included in these messages (see Fig. 3, data element 33) which indicates the type of the Advertising message. The "PDU Type" parameter is the one which allows the master device to know what is the nature of the received advertising message, i.e. ADV_IND, ADV_DIRECT_IND, ADV_NONCONN_IND or ADV_ALERT. All the rest are the same - i.e. the new AD structures (alert priority, data) we previously defined could be included in all these existing message types in the same way.

The advantage of defining a new ADV_ALERT message type is to limit the impact on legacy/existing master devices: if a legacy master device detects a new ADV_ALERT message, which is actually an unknown message for it, the master will just ignore this message. If, on the other hand, an existing advertising message including the new alert AD structures (alert priority data plus additional data) is used, a legacy master device will start to analyse the message since the message type is known (i.e. ADV_IND, ADV_DIRECT_IND or ADV_NONCONN_IND), but upon arriving at the new AD structures, the analysis process will stop since these new structures are not supported. Thus, the advantage of using a new advertising message type (ADV_ALERT) is to avoid useless analysis processing for legacy master devices. However, in some instances, some manufacturers may consider that using an extended existing message type is a preferable way to implement the present work rather than adding a new message type.

11. Overview with considerations for a preferred implementation

Further details of a preferred implementation are as follows:

- A BLE accessory (including at least a sensor (temperature, humidity, light, ...) and a BLE transceiver module) continuously captures data corresponding to the nature of the sensor.

- Preferably, the accessory should also have some memory capability to memorize the captured data on a cyclic way (e.g. able to store data captured during three months, then replace the oldest data by the newest ones).

- Preferably, the accessory should also be configurable by a master device, e.g. to set the trigger values (normal/abnormal).

- Preferably, the accessory should be paired with one master device.

- The accessory should be able to analyze the captured data. In case the conditions to emit an alert are met (e.g. a number of consecutive abnormal values have been detected), the BLE accessory is able to format then emit the new ADV_ALERT message.

- Preferably this accessory should persistently emit this ADV_ALERT message until a master device has correctly acknowledged it (even if the captured data have since returned to normal).

- Other security considerations:

The content of the ADV_ALERT message could be left non-encoded. In that case, any master device (supporting this new message type) could process this message when receiving it (could be wanted or unwanted).

As a preferred implementation, however, the BLE accessory would encrypt the AdvData part of the ADV_ALERT message using a secret key shared between the accessory and a number of "allowed" master devices (e.g. all family members' phones so that each member can be notified by a BLE accessory placed in their house).
- This secret key is NOT the pairing key shared between the slave and its paired master device.
- This secret key is linked with the media access control (MAC) address of the BLE accessory (so that the master can know which key to use when receiving a message from one particular accessory).
- This secret key could be provided along with the accessory (e.g. included in the accessory package) and entered by the user into the master device through its user interface (e.g. settings or accessory application user interface).
- The encryption/decryption is handled by the Host logical entity in the master or slave devices.
- We don't impose a specific encryption algorithm in this work, but would recommend using a well known symmetric-key algorithm (e.g. AES, DES, etc.).

- The new ADV_ALERT message should not impact legacy (master) devices (will be probably ignored).

- A master device in scanning mode and supporting the proposed solution is able to receive, decrypt and analyze this ADV_ALERT message.

- Upon correct decoding of the ADV_ALERT message, the master device should take relevant actions to alert the user (e.g. sound, vibration, pop up window on the screen, etc...).

- Upon incorrect decoding of the ADV_ALERT message, the master device should ignore this message and should NOT take any actions to alert the user.

Various other modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art and will not be described in further detail here.

For example, the present invention can be materialized by a program for causing a computer such as a CPU (Central Processing Unit) to execute the processes shown in Fig. 6.

The program can be stored and provided to a computer using any type of non-transitory computer readable media. Non-transitory computer readable media include any type of tangible storage media. Examples of non-transitory computer readable media include magnetic storage media (such as floppy disks, magnetic tapes, hard disk drives, etc.), optical magnetic storage media (e.g. magneto-optical disks), CD-ROM, CD-R (compact disc recordable), CD-R/W (compact disc rewritable), and semiconductor memories (such as mask ROM, PROM (programmable ROM), EPROM (erasable PROM), flash ROM, RAM (random access memory), etc.). The program may be provided to a computer using any type of transitory computer readable media. Examples of transitory computer readable media include electric signals, optical signals, and electromagnetic waves. Transitory computer readable media can provide the program to a computer via a wired communication line (e.g. electric wires, and optical fibers) or a wireless communication line.

This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority from United Kingdom Patent Application No. 1209042.9, filed on May 22, 2012, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

10 BLE ACCESSORY
11 SENSOR
12 BLE CELLPHONE
14 BLE WATCH
16 ALERT SYMBOL
18 DATA
31 HEADER
32 PAYLOAD
33 PDU TYPE
34 DATA
35 ADVA
36 ADVDATA
37 to 40 AD STRUCTURES
41 NULL DATA
42 LENGTH
43 DATA
44 LENGTH
45 DATA
46 AD TYPE
47 AD DATA
48 AD TYPE
49 AD DATA
50 ANTENNA
51 TRANSCEIVER CIRCUIT
52 SENSOR INTERFACE
53 CONTROLLER
54 MEMORY
55 OPERATING SYSTEM
56 COMMUNICATIONS CONTROL MODULE
57 BLE CORE
58 HOST LAYER
59 LE CONTROLLER LAYER
60 ANTENNA
61 TRANSCEIVER CIRCUIT
62 USER INTERFACE
63 CONTROLLER
64 MEMORY
65 OPERATING SYSTEM
66 COMMUNICATIONS CONTROL MODULE
67 BLE CORE
68 HOST LAYER
69 LE CONTROLLER LAYER
70 APPS MODULE
71 APPS MANAGER
72 USER INTERFACE DRIVER

Claims (59)

  1. A slave device comprising:
    means for receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition;
    means for processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal;
    means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is normal, to generate and transmit, using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, a first advertising message identifying the slave device; and
    means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, to generate and transmit, using the Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition.
  2. A slave device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the Bluetooth protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.
  3. A slave device as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the second advertising message is an alert message.
  4. A slave device as claimed in claim 3, wherein the alert message comprises an indication of the priority of the alert.
  5. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the second advertising message includes data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device.
  6. A slave device as claimed in claim 5 when dependent on claim 4 wherein, conditional upon the priority of the alert being high, the second advertising message includes data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device.
  7. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, configured to transmit the second advertising messages repeatedly until it receives an acknowledgement of receipt by a master device.
  8. A slave device as claimed in claim 7, wherein the second advertising message is repeatedly transmitted in a periodic manner, with the transmitted messages being separated by periods of non-transmission.
  9. A slave device as claimed in claim 8 when dependent on claim 4, wherein the frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions of the second advertising message is dependent on the priority of the alert.
  10. A slave device as claimed in claim 8 or claim 9, wherein the frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions of the second advertising message is dependent on the electrical power available to the slave device.
  11. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the second advertising message comprises information on the operational status of the slave device.
  12. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the second advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  13. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the one or more predetermined criteria are user-configurable.
  14. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein at least part of the second advertising message is encrypted such that only authorised master device(s) are able to decrypt the content.
  15. A slave device as claimed in any preceding claim, further comprising the sensor device, and preferably wherein the sensor device is selected from a group comprising: a movement detector, a temperature detector, a humidity detector, a gas detector, a light sensor, a sound sensor, a vibration sensor, a mechanical pressure sensor, a barometer, a digital compass.
  16. A master device comprising:
    means for receiving a message transmitted by a slave device using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol during a scan performed by the master device for available devices with which the master device is able to connect;
    means for determining whether the message is a first advertising message identifying the slave device, or a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of an abnormal condition sensed by a sensor device associated with the slave device; and
    means for notifying a user of the occurrence of the abnormal condition in the event that the message is a said second advertising message.
  17. A master device as claimed in claim 16, wherein the Bluetooth protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.
  18. A master device as claimed in claim 16 or claim 17, wherein the second advertising message is an alert message.
  19. A master device as claimed in claim 18, being configured to generate an alert perceivable by a user in response to receiving the alert message.
  20. A master device as claimed in claim 18, wherein the nature of the alert generated is dependent on an indication of the priority of the alert comprised within the message.
  21. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 20, further operable to receive data comprised within the second advertising message.
  22. A master device as claimed in claim 21, wherein the data comprised within the second advertising message includes data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device.
  23. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 22, further operable to receive information comprised within the second advertising message on the operational status of the slave device.
  24. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 23, wherein the second advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  25. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 24, further comprising means to user-configure and transmit to the slave device one or more criteria on the basis of which the slave device determines whether a sensed condition is normal or abnormal.
  26. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 25, further comprising means to decrypt encrypted content of the second advertising message.
  27. A master device as claimed in any of claims 16 to 26, being selected from a group comprising: a cellular phone, a tablet computer, a personal digital assistant, a personal computer.
  28. A method of transmitting a message using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a slave device and comprising:
    receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition;
    processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and
    in the event that the sensed condition is normal, generating and transmitting, using the Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, a first advertising message identifying the slave device; or
    in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, generating and transmitting, using the Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition.
  29. A method as claimed in claim 28, wherein the Bluetooth protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.
  30. A method as claimed in claim 28 or claim 29, wherein the second advertising message is an alert message.
  31. A method as claimed in claim 30, wherein the alert message comprises an indication of the priority of the alert.
  32. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 31, wherein the second advertising message includes data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device.
  33. A method as claimed in claim 32 when dependent on claim 31 wherein, conditional upon the priority of the alert being high, the second advertising message includes data collected by the data collecting device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the data collecting device.
  34. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 33, wherein the second advertising message is transmitted repeatedly until the slave device receives an acknowledgement of receipt by a master device.
  35. A method as claimed in claim 34, wherein the second advertising message is repeatedly transmitted in a periodic manner, with the transmitted messages being separated by periods of non-transmission.
  36. A method as claimed in claim 35 when dependent on claim 31, wherein the frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions of the second advertising message is dependent on the priority of the alert.
  37. A method as claimed in claim 35 or claim 36, wherein the frequency of the periodic repeated transmissions of the second advertising message is dependent on the electrical power available to the slave device.
  38. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 37, wherein the second advertising message comprises information on the operational status of the slave device.
  39. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 38, wherein the second advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  40. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 39, further comprising enabling a user to configure the one or more predetermined criteria.
  41. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 40, further comprising encrypting at least part of the second advertising message such that only authorised master device(s) are able to decrypt the content.
  42. A method as claimed in any of claims 28 to 41, wherein the slave device is selected from a group comprising: a movement detector, a temperature detector, a humidity detector, a gas detector, a light sensor, a sound sensor, a vibration sensor, a mechanical pressure sensor, a barometer, a digital compass.
  43. A method of receiving a message using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a master device and comprising:
    receiving a message transmitted by a slave device during a scan performed by the master device for available devices with which the master device is able to connect;
    determining whether the message is a first advertising message identifying the slave device, or a second advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of an abnormal condition sensed by a sensor device associated with the slave device; and
    notifying a user of the occurrence of the abnormal condition in the event that the message is a said second advertising message.
  44. A method as claimed in claim 43, wherein the Bluetooth protocol is the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol.
  45. A method as claimed in claim 43 or claim 44, wherein the second advertising message is an alert message.
  46. A method as claimed in claim 45, further comprising generating an alert perceivable by a user in response to receiving the alert message.
  47. A method as claimed in claim 46, wherein the nature of the alert generated is dependent on an indication of the priority of the alert comprised within the message.
  48. A method as claimed in any of claims 46 to 47, further comprising receiving data comprised within the second advertising message.
  49. A method as claimed in claim 48, wherein the data comprised within the second advertising message includes data collected by the sensor device, or data produced as a consequence of data collected by the sensor device.
  50. A method as claimed in any of claims 43 to 49, wherein the second advertising message comprises information on the operational status of the slave device.
  51. A method as claimed in any of claims 43 to 50, wherein the second advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  52. A method as claimed in any of claims 43 to 51, further comprising receiving from a user and transmitting to the slave device one or more criteria on the basis of which the slave device determines whether a sensed condition is normal or abnormal.
  53. A method as claimed in any of claims 43 to 52, further comprising decrypting encrypted content of the second advertising message.

  54. A method as claimed in any of claims 43 to 53, wherein the master device is selected from a group comprising: a mobile phone, a tablet computer, a personal digital assistant, a personal computer.
  55. A slave device comprising:
    means for receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition;
    means for processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and
    means operable, in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, to generate and transmit, using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, an advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition, the advertising message being detectable by a master device when performing a scan for available devices with which the master device is able to connect;
    wherein the advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  56. A slave device as claimed in claim 55, wherein the first data structure further specifies the priority of the alert.
  57. A method of transmitting a message using a Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, the method being performed by a slave device and comprising:
    receiving a signal from a sensor device representative of a sensed condition;
    processing the signal and comparing the signal with one or more predetermined criteria to determine whether the sensed condition is normal or abnormal; and
    in the event that the sensed condition is abnormal, generating and transmitting, using the Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol, an advertising message identifying the slave device and indicating the occurrence of the abnormal sensed condition, the advertising message being detectable by a master device when performing a scan for available devices with which the master device is able to connect;
    wherein the advertising message comprises a first data structure signifying an alert, and a second data structure containing additional information associated with the alert.
  58. A method as claimed in claim 57, wherein the first data structure further specifies the priority of the alert.
  59. A computer implementable instructions product comprising computer implementable instructions for causing a programmable processing device to become configured as the slave processing device of any of claims 1 to 15 or 55 or 56, or to become configured as the master processing device of any of claims 16 to 27, or to implement the method of any of claims 28 to 54 or 57 or 58.
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