A Tracking Device
Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a tracking device and in particular to a GPS tracking device having improved aesthetic appearance and usability.
GPS tracking devices are known that receive GPS satellite signals and transmit their location to a remote station, so allowing a user to track the position of the device and therefore of a person or animal or object carrying the device or of an item to which the device is attached. Such transmission may be for example using a cellular telephone or cellphone network, for example by means of a short message service (SMS message) to a cellphone, which may then use co-ordinates, included in the SMS location data, to indicate the position of the tracker on a mapping application. Products based on this principle are available commercially. Prior Art
Chinese Patent Application number CN-A-20233 047 (Shenzhen Langya Electronics Co Ltd) discloses an emergency rescue positioning and tracking watch. A secondary printed circuit board (PCB) is connected with a main PCB board. A GPS module and antenna are welded on the secondary printed circuit board. Thus the emergency rescue positioning and tracking watch enables the user's position to be tracked using the GPS system. The user's health can also be monitored.
International Patent Application number WO-A2-2011/100133 (Omnilink Systems Inc) discloses a method and system for monitoring individuals or objects including tracking devices having wireless features. Wireless tracking data is processed and transmitted to an administrative hub that is configured to monitor locations of individuals or objects based upon the tracking data. Another example of a GPS tracking device is described in European Patent Application number EP-A1-2 265 045 (Oberthur Technologies GmbH). The device
has a microcircuit card and a magnetometer for obtaining orientation of the mobile device, such as a telephone. A controller sends a request containing information on the orientation of the telephone. United States Patent Application number US-A-2011/018707 (Dobson and reed) relates to a shipping apparatus for small, high value or accountable items. The apparatus comprises a housing forming a container capable of being opened and closed, typically in a clamshell arrangement; and an integral locking device to secure the container in the closed position.
The locking device includes: a microprocessor; a global positioning system (GPS) receiver; a power supply; and an electromechanical latching mechanism to actuate the locking device and to unlock the locking device upon signal from the microprocessor when the shipping container has reached a selected geographic location.
On the whole existing GPS tracking devices were large, bulky, and awkwardly shaped, or were adapted for use only on pets, for example being built into a collar. Typically many existing GPS tracking devices are aesthetically unappealing. Little or no provision has been made for aesthetic presentation or styling, to allow the device to fit a fashion style for example, or for customisation by a user.
It is one aim of the present invention to provide a GPS tracking device with improved usability, for example improved wearability, so as to be aesthetically pleasing and so lead to increased uptake by potential users.
Summary of the Invention
According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a GPS tracker device comprising: a tracker body having a body housing and a GPS tracker system within the body housing, the GPS tracker system includes a circuit board, a SIM card and a power source; (such as a battery); a carrying means, such as a wrist band, is arranged to attach to an aesthetic casing; the casing comprising a receiving locator arranged in use to receive the tracker body; and a locking means arranged in use to secure the tracker body in place within the receiving location.
In preferred embodiments the casing is composed of more than one component, for example the casing may comprise a top casing and a bottom casing that are arranged in use to fit together to enclose the tracker body and to present a pleasant eye-appealing and aesthetic appearance.
Preferably the locking means is adapted in use to secure, for example, to lock the top casing and the bottom casing portions together so as to lock securely the tracker body with respect to the carrying means. In particularly preferred embodiments the top casing and the bottom casing are adapted to engage at engagement surfaces, for example at engagement surfaces provided about the perimeter of the casings. The device may further comprise a seal, such as a flange, o-ring or gasket, between the top casing and the bottom casing to resist water ingress. The seal may be located between the mutual engagement surfaces, such as a recess, formed in the top and bottom casings.
In another preferred embodiment the locking means comprises a locking tool adapted to operate the locking means. In a preferred embodiment the locking means comprises a lock mechanism within the casing and the locking tool is a bespoke key.
Advantageously the locking mechanism is accessible by a narrow aperture and is adapted to release when the locking tool is introduced into the aperture. Optionally the locking tool comprises a long, thin projection sized to fit into the aperture and reach and actuate the locking means.
In this way the GPS tracker body comprising the electronics is locked in place within a waterproof and secure casing so that it is preferably not visible outside the casing, so allowing the body housing to be adapted optimally for its purpose. The casing may be formed in ways that is adapted to contain electronics. The casing is preferably water resistant and formed from a shock and impact resistant material to provide a robust device and is preferably formed from an aesthetically attractive material such as metal, preferably polished or brushed or treated metal, or a coloured plastic moulding. It is an advantage of the invention that the casing may be designed independently of the electronics, so allowing greater opportunity for aesthetically impactful design than in previous arrangements.
In further embodiments the casing may comprise a single component having a recess formed within it that is adapted to receive the GPS tracker body, and the locking means is adapted to lock the tracker body to the casing. In such embodiments the body housing is visible and forms part of the aesthetic design of the device.
In preferred embodiments the casing is ideally adapted such that the attachment means for the carrying means is not accessible until the locking means is released.
Preferably the attachment means is formed integrally with the casing, so that when the casing is closed the GPS may be secured with confidence by the wearer. In preferred embodiments the attachment means is formed on or as part of the bottom casing.
In preferred embodiments the carrying means are selected from the group comprising: a bracelet, an ankle chain, a neck chain, a belt, a clip that can be attached to clothing, a hair ornament, a badge that may be pinned to clothing or a clothing accessory (such as a handbag or a shoulder bag).
According to another preferred embodiment, the carrying means is adapted to be worn continuously by a person and to be comfortable and unobtrusive. In some embodiments the tracking device is adapted to be worn by an animal such as a pet and the carrying means may comprise for example a collar, halter or harness.
In a preferred embodiment the carrying means comprises attachment means to close two straps, for example a buckle. In other embodiments the carrying means may comprise an elastic strap. In some embodiments the casing may be enclosed wholly or partially within the carrying means and in some embodiments may not be visible from outside the carrying means.
Preferably the tracking device is adapted such that the carrying means is interchangeable. In preferred embodiments the attachment means is enclosed within the casing when the casing is closed and the carrying means extends through an aperture or eyelet defined in a wall of the casing. Preferably the casing closes onto the carrying means so as to form a water-resistant seal. In this way the carrying
means may be changed according to the user's tastes and lifestyle demands, whilst maintaining integrity of the tracking capability. In comparison, prior art devices adapted for use by pets are adapted to fit a predefined slot or collar. Similar devices adapted for use by people are usually carried inside a pocket or a bag. The design of the present invention makes GPS tracker devices wearable in a pleasing and inconspicuous manner.
The tracker body comprises a fully functional GPS tracker subsystem housed in a tracker casing and comprising a miniature GPS module, a miniature GPS aerial, rechargeable batteries and a PCB to house other electrical components and a micro SIM (subscriber identification module) card that in preferred embodiments slots into a recess on an underside of the tracker casing.
In preferred embodiments the tracker casing is formed from a tracker top casing and a tracker bottom casing. In some embodiments the device may comprise an inner body contained within the casing comprising an inner body top and an inner body bottom and having a watertight seal between them, so that, as in the aforementioned embodiment, the inner body when closed provides a watertight environment for the tracker body.
In preferred embodiments the electronic systems of the device are self-contained within the tracker body and the device is adapted to allow interchange of the tracker body between casings and carrying means. For example, a tracker body may be worn in a waterproof synthetic plastics or elastomeric casing for swimming during the day, and may be transferred into an ornamental metal casing, for example a jewelled casing, as part of a broach or buckle, for evening wear. In this way the tracking device of the invention is open to uses in situations that prior art devices are not.
Advantageously a kit of different casings may be supplied, optionally with a matching pattern. For example the kit might comprise: a watch strap, a broach, a wrist band, a belt buckle and a hat.
In preferred embodiments the casing is adapted to conceal the contents, and to conceal the nature of the tracking device. In some embodiments the device is adapted to appear like another item, for example a watch, an article of jewellery, or a
toy, for example a child's toy compass, a doll or a similar item, that might be carried or worn by a child.
The device preferably includes a power socket adapted to allow charging of on-board batteries. Optionally software updates or upgrades or reprogramming of the device may be effected via the same or a different socket.
In alternative embodiments the device may have a remote charging facility - such as an inductive power coupling means adapted to charge the batteries without a physical connection. In some embodiments data communication with the device may be via radio means, such as Bluetooth (trade Mark). In other embodiments the SIM card may be built into the tracker casing body. In this way the tracker body might be made to be completely sealed. According to a further aspect the invention provides a method for providing GPS tracking capability comprising the steps of: providing a GPS tracking device as described herein; providing computer (tablet, PC or smartphone) equipped with mapping software; energising the tracking device such that it receives a GPS signal and communicates location information to the computer (tablet, PC or smartphone) such that the mapping software displays the location of the tracking device.
The GPS tracking device may be worn by a first user. The smartphone or PC may be used by a second user. A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, and with reference to the Figures, in which:
Brief Description of Figures Figure 1 shows an isometric diagrammatical view of a first embodiment of the invention;
Figure 2 shows an exploded view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ;
Figure 3 shows a first side view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ;
Figure 4 shows a view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 with the casing open; Figure 5 shows a second side view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ; Figure 6 shows an end-on view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ; and Figure 7 shows a top view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1. Detailed Description of Figures
Referring to the Figures, Figures 1 and 3 show an embodiment of the GPS tracking device in the form of a bracelet 2 of the invention. The tracking device comprises a casing in the form of a locket and a carrying means in the form of a bracelet 2. No buckle is shown on the bracelet 2 although in some embodiments a buckle might be provided.
Bracelet 2 is formed from an elastic material and preferably is sized to be a stretch fit to the wearer's wrist, or other region such as an ankle. The casing or locket 1 is shown as being substantially in the form of a shallow cylinder, having a seal joint 3 around its circumference. In alternative embodiments the casing may be shaped in other forms, for example it might be oval or square. It is understood that the invention is not limited by the nature, form or material of the outer casing.
A socket 4 is shown at the front of the locket 1 for charging and optionally data communication. In this embodiment the socket is in the form of a mini-USB socket 4. Socket 4 is covered by a water-resistant elastomeric plug when not in use. The bracelet 2 is shown as being held in place within the housing 1 by attachment means (not visible in figure 1). Visible above the socket 4 is a hole or aperture 5 for access to the locking means.
With reference to Figure 2, the device comprises (as shown from top to bottom): a stainless steel top casing 6 with various finishing options. This may also be made from (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) ABS for example for use by young children. ABS is a watertight plastic inner body 7 and this ideally forms the upper part which is also attached to the inside of the stainless steel casing.
A spring mechanism 8 locks and opens (visible at the rear corner) an ABS tracker casing upper part 9. A miniature GPS antenna 10 and a miniature GPS module 11 are shown housed inside the casing. Also shown are 2 x 3 Volt lithium rechargeable batteries 12. A printed circuit board (PCB) is shown supporting components 3. A micro SIM card 14 slots into the underside of the tracker casing 16. A coloured silicone strap bracelet 2 is mounted onto the casing 16.
The attachment means for the strap 2 are provided in the form of features on the lower ABS plastic inner body 15.
With reference to Figure 4, the plastic inner body 15 is shown mounted inside the casing 1 in an open position, with the tracker body within it. The strap 2 is shown mounted over attachment means in the form of plastic fitments or lugs forming part of the inner body lower part 15.
The upper part 9 comprises mating features that hold the strap 2 in place when the device is closed. In this open condition the strap 2 might be changed or the tracker body removed to be interchanged into another casing. The device comprises a spring to cause the casing and the inner body to open when the device is unlocked.
The locking means comprises a small aperture 5 visible at the front of the top casing adapted to allow a narrow tool to enter and unlock the lock and spring mechanism. When closed the upper 9 and lower body parts 15 of the ABS plastic inner body close together to form a water-resistant seal.
With reference to figures 5 to 7, it will be appreciated that the top casing gives an excellent provision for decoration, branding and for customisation.
The device may be provided in a wide range of styles and appearances, allowing a 'mix and match' usage, including a bracelet comprising a locket and a strap. For example, a gold finish locket may be suitable for wear by users from teens all the way up to elderly people. A leather strap could be provided, with or without a buckle.
The tracking device can be interchanged into different bracelets that will appeal to both genders and all ages, and wearing it can therefore comfortably become unnoticeable habit.
As very small children grow rapidly it likely that the silicone strap can be modified so that it can be fastened with a buckle. This also helps to prevent inadvertent removal of the bracelet off.
The locket may be made from tough ABS plastic to avoid injury as may be the case with a heavier, denser steel casing.
The tracking device ideally comprises the smallest components possible to allow the size to be small and lightweight enough to be comfortable for the wearer and so that the tracker body can easily be swapped from bracelet to bracelet.
The 'locket' casings may be formed for example from stainless steel and can have many different finishes and can be engraved with names, personal messages, emblems etc. upon purchase to make the product more personal to the wearer. Optionally the antenna and battery charge unit may be included in or built in to the casing of the device. It is also envisaged that a charging plug, that clips in around the side of the casing, may include a USB or similar device. Charging the device is ideally achieved by plugging in a mini USB cable to the front of the device or to a PC or standard charge adapter.
In order to access the internal of the device, so as to change the strap, locket or batteries, a user engages a bespoke tool into the spring loaded entrance hole on the side of the device. In emergencies a similarly sized tool, such as a paperclip or fine pen nib, may be used to open the 'locket'. Once open, the tracker can be removed allowing it to be swapped between bracelets or other casings.
Changing straps can be done easily by lifting the 'prongs' off the attachment means for example in the form of extruded plastic hooks. Changing the batteries in the GPS tracker can easily be done by removing the fixings that hold the tracker casing together.
The device may be used with a smartphone and software application in the following manner. Once fully charged the device can be linked to the iPhone/android app or PC by entering a unique code supplied within the device. This also requires the
device to be connected to the PC via the micro USB cable. A number of devices can be linked to the app and computer software. Each of these requires a password that needs to be set up so that the devices cannot be tracked if the phone is lost. The password for each device would come with the packaging and once entered can be changed to something more memorable.
The device can then be turned on by way of a switch or timer or by plugging it into a PC/Mac and turning it on via a menu driven screen. The same methods can be used to turn off the device. The settings page for each device contains information for that device such as the text number and battery life as well as the identity of the owner and wearer. Once linked the position of the device can be acquired either by clicking a track button on the PC/Mac (or on an l-phone/android app) or by sending a blank text message to the number provided with the SIM card. The device responds by sending back a web address link to the phone which contains a map with the location clearly shown. The map can also be viewed on a PC by opening the link in a web browser.
With respect to the above description it is to be realised that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. As an example the antenna may be formed integrally with the wrist band, connecting to the tracker via connections in the casing, thus giving the wrist band strength as well as providing a large area of an antenna.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention. The invention has thus been described by way of examples only and it will be appreciated that variation may be made to the above-mentioned embodiments without departing from the scope of invention.