WO2015187005A1 - An information transmission method - Google Patents

An information transmission method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2015187005A1
WO2015187005A1 PCT/NL2014/050370 NL2014050370W WO2015187005A1 WO 2015187005 A1 WO2015187005 A1 WO 2015187005A1 NL 2014050370 W NL2014050370 W NL 2014050370W WO 2015187005 A1 WO2015187005 A1 WO 2015187005A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
rfid
satellite
information
data
signal
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/NL2014/050370
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Reinerus Mathijs Willie GERRITSEN
Matthijs Jurgen VAN DER WEG
Original Assignee
Intellifi B.V.
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.)
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Publication date
Application filed by Intellifi B.V. filed Critical Intellifi B.V.
Priority to PCT/NL2014/050370 priority Critical patent/WO2015187005A1/en
Publication of WO2015187005A1 publication Critical patent/WO2015187005A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K7/00Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns
    • G06K7/10Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation
    • G06K7/10009Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves
    • G06K7/10366Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves the interrogation device being adapted for miscellaneous applications
    • G06K7/10415Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves the interrogation device being adapted for miscellaneous applications the interrogation device being fixed in its position, such as an access control device for reading wireless access cards, or a wireless ATM
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K7/00Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns
    • G06K7/10Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation
    • G06K7/10009Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves
    • G06K7/10019Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves resolving collision on the communication channels between simultaneously or concurrently interrogated record carriers.
    • G06K7/10029Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves resolving collision on the communication channels between simultaneously or concurrently interrogated record carriers. the collision being resolved in the time domain, e.g. using binary tree search or RFID responses allocated to a random time slot
    • G06K7/10039Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves resolving collision on the communication channels between simultaneously or concurrently interrogated record carriers. the collision being resolved in the time domain, e.g. using binary tree search or RFID responses allocated to a random time slot interrogator driven, i.e. synchronous
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K7/00Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns
    • G06K7/10Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation
    • G06K7/10009Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves
    • G06K7/10019Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves resolving collision on the communication channels between simultaneously or concurrently interrogated record carriers.
    • G06K7/10079Methods or arrangements for sensing record carriers, e.g. for reading patterns by electromagnetic radiation, e.g. optical sensing; by corpuscular radiation sensing by radiation using wavelengths larger than 0.1 mm, e.g. radio-waves or microwaves resolving collision on the communication channels between simultaneously or concurrently interrogated record carriers. the collision being resolved in the spatial domain, e.g. temporary shields for blindfolding the interrogator in specific directions

Abstract

The invention provides an information transmission method using a satellite for transmitting information on an object comprising an RFID tag to at least one portable device, said method comprising: - said satellite at time intervals sending a scan signal and waiting for a response signal from said RFID tag, said response signal comprising an RFID identifier; - said satellite retrieving said RFID identifier from said response signal, and - said satellite, in response to said response signal, during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcasts one or more beacon signals, each beacon signal comprising data selected from information regarding objects coupled to said RFID tags from which a response signal is received, said RFID identifier of said response signal, properties of said RFID tags of said response signal, an indication of a distance of said RFID tags of said response signal from said satellite, and a combination thereof.

Description

P100161PC00

An information transmission method Field of the invention

The invention relates to an information transmission method, an information transmission system, a satellite for such a method or system, and software for performing the method steps or for use in such a system. Background of the invention

Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags becomes more and more common place in current distribution systems. Furthermore, in retail RFID tags are being used in more and more places. Usually, RFID tags are passive and require relatively expensive readers.

In for instance WO2013126391, an inventory system is described that uses a particularly designed antenna to identify RFID tags that are present in a room or a space. This allows an almost real-time inventory.

The document above, and many other systems, discuss a ceiling-mounted antenna device to identifying RFID tags, and even more or less accurately identify their location. A further example of such an antenna is for instance WO2005091432, and US2006252460. Other ceiling-mounted antenna systems, for instance for WIFI data transmission, are also discussed. An example of such a ceiling-mounted antenna is EP1081506.

RFID tags may also be used for finding articles in a room, using these ceiling- mounted antennas of using special mobile or hand-held RFID readers. These RFID readers may communicate with other computer systems, for instance using the Bluetooth protocol for data transmission. In this way, data including information on the RFID tags that are (being) read can be communicated. An example of such an RFID reader is CA2405894. In US2008/0238621, an integration of a series of RFID readers in a system is disclosed. It discloses how a multi-mode RFID reader operates in both far field mode and near field mode. The multi-mode RFID reader includes a transmitter section, a receiver section, a transmit multiplexer and a receive multiplexer. Both the transmit multiplexer and the receive multiplexer are configurably coupled to a far field antenna structure and a near field coil structure. For far field operation, the transmit multiplexer provides an up-converted outbound signal to a far field antenna structure and the receive multiplexer provides an inbound signal to a receiver section. For near field operation, the transmit multiplexer provides an up-converted outbound signal to the near field coil structure and the receive multiplexer provides an inbound signal to the receiver section.

US2010/0134289 discloses how an RFID reader controlling device based on a plurality of RFID reader protocols receives control instructions for controlling RFID readers from application devices providing services, and confirms RFID reader protocol types corresponding to control instructions to confirm whether communication channels corresponding to RFID reader protocols are generated. Further, the RFID reader controlling device transmits the control instructions to the RFID readers through the communication channels and transmits the control results of the RFID readers corresponding to the control instructions.

Another technology that has more and more use is Bluetooth. Often, this protocol is used to connect handheld device with other apparatus and devices. Furthermore, Bluetooth is used to set up ad-hoc peer-to-peer connections to exchange data.

Tags may integrate Bluetooth capabilities as well as RFID tag features. An example of this integration is shown in US20030104848. This results in more complex tags.

EP1499070 discloses a system and method for integrating a plurality of short- range communication protocols, comprising a signalling protocol for enabling an enhanced host controller to share the use of an RF transceiver between a plurality of communication modules using a plurality of short-range communications protocols.

A new technology that is integrated in daily life more and more rapidly, is the use of so-called 'beacons' that periodically make their presence aware to other devices for transmitting a short message or a small amount of data to these other, receiving devices. These small messages are referred to as 'advertisements', and they are broadcasted in a one-way transmission to enabled devices. Such a system is for instance implementation by Apple Inc and is referred to as 'iBeacons'. The iBeacon works on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart. BLE can also be found on Bluetooth 4.0 devices that support dual mode. One potential application is a location-aware, context-aware, pervasive small wireless sensor beacon that could pinpoint users' location in a store.

Thus, many technologies describe the use and implementation of RFID tags in daily live, and integration of these tags with other technology. Furthermore, many efforts are made to integrate the use of RFID tags and the use of handheld devices that have wireless capabilities, like WIFI and Bluetooth, for instance. Other technologies exploit the use of Bluetooth, in various ways.

Summary of the invention

A disadvantage of prior art is that systems are provided that often are not or difficult to integrate. Some systems require infrastructure, some systems require active components that require electrical power. The current system provides easy implementation .

Hence, it is an aspect of the invention to provide an alternative system that may be used next to or complementary to or in addition to known systems. This preferably further at least partly obviates one or more of above-described drawbacks.

The invention thus provides an information transmission method using a satellite for transmitting information on an object comprising an RFID tag to at least one portable device, said method comprising:

- said satellite at time intervals sending a scan signal and waiting for a response signal from said RFID tag, said response signal comprising an RFID identifier;

- said satellite retrieving said RFID identifier from said response signal, and - said satellite, in response to said response signal, during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcasts one or more beacon signals, each beacon signal comprising data selected from information regarding objects coupled to said RFID tags from which a response signal is received, said RFID identifier of said response signal, properties of said RFID tags of said response signal, an indication of a distance of said RFID tags of said response signal from said satellite, and a combination thereof.

The invention further relates to a satellite for transmitting information to at least one portable device, said satellite comprising: - a data processor;

- a first communication device comprising an RFID reader;

- a second communication device, comprising at least one wireless data transmission apparatus;

- computer software which, when running on said data processor, performs the steps of:

- at time intervals activating said first communication device for sending a scan signal for RFID tags within a working range of said satellite, and reading RFID identifiers for said RFID tags;

- transmit at least one selected from said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers to said second communication device;

- control said second communication device for during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcast data selected said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers.

The invention further relates to an information transmission system comprising:

- at least one server (S) comprising a data processor and a database (D) comprising information on objects coupled with RFID identifiers of RFID tags connected with said objects;

- at least one satellite (S I) positioned in an environment, said satellite provided with a first communication device comprising an RFID reader for reading RFID tags that are present in a working range of said RFID reader, said satellite comprising a communication line to said server (S) for communicating data with said server, a second communication device comprising at least one broadcasting apparatus for during a time interval periodically wirelessly broadcasting a data package,

said server further comprises a computer program which, when running on said data processor, enables said server (S) to:

- receive RFID identifiers;

- perform a query on said database for retrieving object information on objects connected to RFID tags connected to said objects, and

- transmit said object information;

said satellite comprising a computer program which enables said satellite to: - at time intervals activate the RFID reader to scan for RFID tags, and read an RFID identifier of each scanned RFID tag;

- transmitting said RFID identifiers to said server (S), for looking up said RFID identifiers in said database (D);

- retrieve from said server (S) said object information regarding objects coupled to said scanned RFID tags;

- periodically broadcast said retrieved object information in a periodical series of broadcasts, each broadcast comprising data comprising said object information.

In the application, reference is made to a server. Such a server may be one server device, for instance a computer device, located at a location. Alternatively, a server may refer to at least one server device, connected via one or more data connections, at the same location and/or located at remote, in particular physically/geographically remote locations. Each separate server may run part of the system. For instance, one of the databases may run on a separate, even a physically or geographically remote, server device.

A commonly used form of communication connection is a data connection, which is a coupling allowing data, in particular digital data, to be transferred between devices, in particular computer devices or devices comprising a data processor. The data connection can comprise one or more parts that can functionally coupled to one another to transfer data from one device to another. Such a connection may comprises wired (including optical wiring, for instance) parts, but may also comprise wireless parts. Coupling between devices, including servers and satellites of the current invention, may be completely wired, partly wired, or may be completely wireless. Data connections in general are known to a skilled person. The data can be transferred via said data connection via a variety of known protocols.

The satellite can send a scan signal. For reading the information on an RFID tag, a reader can send out a scan signal. The RFID tag may receive the scan signal and send it back, or modify the signal and send it back. It may also reflect the signal, while adding information or modifying the reflected scan signal. Thus, the scan signal usually is a one-way sending from the satellite. Next, the satellite will listen for a return signal. The satellite broadcasts data. Broadcasting relates to a one-way data transfer. It may be compared to an old-fashioned radio program. The satellite sends out data, and there may be listening devices that receive the broadcast, but the receiving devices do not confirm receipt. Based upon receipt of a broadcast, a portable device may decide to contact a satellite and enter into communication with a satellite. A portable device may learn from a broadcast that an object is within range, or learn that an object is within range of another satellite. The portable device may then enter into communication with a satellite regarding the object. The portable device may for instance receive a routing to the object, may make a reservation for the object, or learn more about the object. A satellite may even provide location information on other, similar objects. Thus, the portable device may be able to learn about objects with which the portable device itself cannot communicate.

There are many types of RFID tags. In general, these are known to a skilled person.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio- frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Some tags are powered by and read at short ranges (a few meters) via magnetic fields (electromagnetic induction). Others use a local power source such as a battery, or else have no battery but collect energy from the interrogating EM field, and then act as a passive transponder to emit microwaves or UHF radio waves (i.e., electromagnetic radiation at high frequencies). Battery powered tags may operate at hundreds of meters. Unlike a barcode, the tag does not necessarily need to be within line of sight of the reader, and may be embedded in the tracked object.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is part of the family of Automatic

Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technologies that includes ID and 2D bar codes. RFID uses an electronic chip, usually applied to a substrate to form a label, that is affixed to a product, case, pallet or other package. The information it contains may be read, recorded, or rewritten.

RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line. Pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses. Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal.

RFID tags can be either passive, active or battery-assisted passive. An active tag has an on-board battery and periodically send out its ID signal. A battery-assisted passive (BAP) has a small battery on board and is activated when in the presence of an RFID reader. A passive tag is cheaper and smaller because it has no battery.

Passive RFID tags are in particular cheap to produce. An example of RFID tags are RFID tags that comply with UHF Gen2 RFID protocol. These tags typically have a programmable memory that may hold 12 bytes. A memory coding up to several Kbytes may be possible. A passive RFID tag may reflect an incoming scan signal and reflects it back, adding the data, like an RFID identifier to the scan signal.

In the current invention, data transfer or communication between RFID tags and satellites are wireless. In particular, a satellite and an RFID tag send data via radio frequency waves, in particular, for instance via UHF.

Furthermore, communication between satellites and portable devices is wireless.

In fact, the satellites may broadcast information that is not directed to a specific portable device. This may be referred to as connectionless information transfer from the satellite to the portable device. Satellites and portable devices may for instance communicate via well known Bluetooth or WIFI, for instance.

In this description, reference is made to satellites. These satellites are complex devices that can read RFID tags, broadcast beacon signals. The satellites may additionally communicate with one or more servers in a network, communicate with mobile devices that are within their range, and communicate with other satellites. The mobile devices may for instance be smartphones, tablets, computers, smart watches and other similar devices.

In the current application, broadcasting relates to the sending of data without a request for data. When a satellite broadcasts data, the data is send not to a particular device. This is like for instance an old-fashioned radio broadcast, with radio receivers that only listen/receive. Thus, in fact, no communication takes place. In the current systems, devices and satellites may further comprise other communication apparatus, like for instance Bluetooth modules and/or WIFI modules. Using these apparatus, devices and satellites may additionally communicate, i.e., receive data, request data, and respond to received data.

The method and system may comprise a series of satellites that are linked together via a data communication connection. Such a connection may, as explained, be wired or wireless.

The method and system may further relate to a series of objects, each object comprising an RFID tag. These objects may be mobile, in other words, they may move. Thus, the objects may at one moment be within RFID range with one satellite, and a moment later be within range of another satellite. In an embodiment, satellites may communicate to other satellites and/or to a server if an object comes within range, of if an object leaves its range.

In an embodiment, the satellite may amend its broadcast signal in order to mimic a distance of the RFID tag. In an embodiment, a satellite can for instance modify the energy or signal strength of the broadcast for mimicking an actual position of origin of the RFID tag. Thus, for instance, the satellite mimics the actual RFID tag as a Bluetooth beacon, for instance, a satellite may thus even mimic the distance from the satellite and thus from a portable device. The portable device will this experience the location of the broadcast (originating from a satellite) as if it originates from the RFID tag.

Data may be send or transmitted in the form of one or more data packages.

In an embodiment, the time intervals are substantially equal time intervals. Thus, a broadcast may thus be a periodical broadcast. During a determined time interval, a satellite may periodically send out a broadcast.

In an embodiment, the RFID tags comprise passive tags reflecting at least part of the scan signal or modified scan signal, under the addition of an RFID identifier.

In an embodiment, the satellite:

- contacts at least one server which comprises a database of RFID identifiers and information on an object coupled to said RFID identifier;

- transmits said RFID identifier to said server, and

- receives from said server at least some information on said object.

In an embodiment, the satellite adds at least part of said information on said object to said beacon signal. In an embodiment, the portable device:

- comprises an indication of an object that is searched;

- receives a beacon signal;

- extracts said data from said beacon signal;

- compares at least part of said data with said indication of said searched object;

- provides an indication when a beacon signal is received that comprises information of said searched object.

In an embodiment, the data comprises information representing a location indication of said object.

In an embodiment, the beacon signal comprises data, in particular said beacon signal is an Bluetooth LE advertising signal.

In an embodiment, the advertising channel of said data comprises one selected from said RFID identifier, object information, object location information.

In an embodiment, the method comprises a series of satellites with said satellites located within a wireless communication range of one another, said satellites in contact with one another for exchanging object information.

In an embodiment, the satellites may be located in a grid at a mutual distance of between 5 and 200 meters, in a building said satellites may be provided at a mutual distance of between 5 and 50 meters. Using wireless coupling, the space between satellites may be increased.

In an embodiment, the system comprises a series of said satellites (S I), with each satellite at least in a wireless communication distance from one another.

In an embodiment, the broadcasting apparatus is a Bluetooth apparatus, in particular a Bluetooth LE apparatus.

In an embodiment, the broadcast uses a Bluetooth non-connectable undirected advertising mode.

In an embodiment of the satellite the computer software further perform the steps of:

- deriving from said response signal location information for said RFID tags. The invention further provides a computer program comprising software code portions which, when running on a data processing system, performs the method of the invention. The invention further relates to a data carrier provided with that computer program, and a signal carrying at least part of said computer program.

Further particular embodiments are for instance described in the depending claims. More in particular, the following embodiments are provided, that may allow one or more of the functionalities mentioned.

The invention further relates to a computer program comprising software code portions which, when running on a data processor on a satellite, configure said data processor to:

- at time intervals activating said first communication device for sending a scan signal for RFID tags within a working range of said satellite, and reading RFID identifiers for said RFID tags;

- transmit at least one selected from said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers to said second communication device;

- control said second communication device for during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcast data selected from said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers

The invention further relates to a computer program for the server comprising software code portions which, when running on a data processor, configure said data processor of the server to :

- receive RFID identifiers;

- perform a query on said database for retrieving object information on objects connected to RFID tags connected to said objects, and

- transmit said object information.

The invention further pertains to a data carrier provided with this computer program.

The invention further pertains to a signal carrying at least part of this computer program.

The invention further pertains to a signal sequence representing a program for being executed on a computer, said signal sequence representing this computer program.

The term "substantially" herein, like in "substantially consists", will be understood by and clear to a person skilled in the art. The term "substantially" may also include embodiments with "entirely", "completely", "all", etc. Hence, in embodiments the adjective substantially may also be removed. Where applicable, the term "substantially" may also relate to 90% or higher, such as 95% or higher, especially 99% or higher, even more especially 99.5% or higher, including 100%. The term "comprise" includes also embodiments wherein the term "comprises" means "consists of.

The term "functionally", when used for instance in "functionally coupled" or "functionally direct communication", will be understood by, and be clear to, a person skilled in the art. The term "substantially" may also include embodiments with "entirely", "completely", "all", etc. Hence, in embodiments the adjective substantially may also be removed. Thus, for instance "functionally direct communication" comprises direct, live communication. It may also comprise communication that, from a perspective of the parties communication, is experienced as "live". Thus, like for instance VOIP, there may be a small amount of time between various data packages comprising digital voice data, but these amounts of time are so small that for users it seems as if there is an open communication line or telephone line available.

Furthermore, the terms first, second, third and the like in the description and in the claims, are used for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a sequential or chronological order. It is to be understood that the terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances and that the embodiments of the invention described herein are capable of operation in other sequences than described or illustrated herein.

The devices or apparatus herein are amongst others described during operation. As will be clear to the person skilled in the art, the invention is not limited to methods of operation or devices in operation.

It should be noted that the above-mentioned embodiments illustrate rather than limit the invention, and that those skilled in the art will be able to design many alternative embodiments without departing from the scope of the appended claims. In the claims, any reference signs placed between parentheses shall not be construed as limiting the claim. Use of the verb "to comprise" and its conjugations does not exclude the presence of elements or steps other than those stated in a claim. The article "a" or "an" preceding an element does not exclude the presence of a plurality of such elements. The invention may be implemented by means of hardware comprising several distinct elements, and by means of a suitably programmed computer. In the device or apparatus claims enumerating several means, several of these means may be embodied by one and the same item of hardware. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage.

The invention further applies to an apparatus or device comprising one or more of the characterising features described in the description and/or shown in the attached drawings. The invention further pertains to a method or process comprising one or more of the characterising features described in the description and/or shown in the attached drawings.

The various aspects discussed in this patent can be combined in order to provide additional advantages. Furthermore, some of the features can form the basis for one or more divisional applications.

Brief description of the drawings

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying schematic drawings in which corresponding reference symbols indicate corresponding parts, and in which:

Figure 1 schematically a high level overview of an embodiment of a system;

Figure 2 schematically shows a system with multiple satellites, objects, portable devices and a server.

The drawings are not necessarily on scale. Description of preferred embodiments

Figure 1 schematically depicts a system according to an aspect of the invention on a high level. A satellite S I is provided with a first communication device 1 for obtaining information from an RFID tag. In this drawing, two objects O are shown that are each provided with an RFID tag 4. In this drawing, the RFID tags 4 are so-called passive tags. An example of a relatively inexpensive RFID tag 4 is referred to as UHF Gen2 RFID. The objects O are in this drawing within reading range of the satellite S I. The satellite S I via its first communication device 1 sends out a scan signal 3, indicated by the outgoing waves. The RFID tags 4 in this embodiment each send or reflect a response signal 5 with object information. Usually this object information is an RFID identifier.

Satellite S I further comprises a second communication device 2 comprising in this embodiment four communication apparatus, indicated with CHI, CH2, CH3 and CH4.

The communication apparatus CH1-CH4 are here adapted for providing wireless communication. In particular, these communication apparatus CH1-CH4 are provided for providing wireless communication via radio frequencies. More in particular, the communication apparatus CH1-CH4 provide communication via the Bluetooth protocol, specifically via what is known as Bluetooth LE (Low Energy).

In this embodiment, the communication apparatus CH1-CH3 provides a series of simultaneous communication channels for providing incoming and outgoing communication, for communication with for instance a portable device R. Portable device R can for instance be a smart phone, a tablet, or another type of device, for instance a wearable device provided with wireless communication possibilities.

The other communication apparatus CH4 are in this embodiment communication apparatus that are adapted for broadcasting beacon signals 7. An example of these beacon signals 7 are advertising transmissions via the Bluetooth LE protocol. In this embodiment, satellite S I comprises one separate communication apparatus CH4.

It will be evident that many further and alternative embodiments of this basic example of figure 1 are possible.

Figure 2 shows a more elaborated example of an information transmission system. In this embodiment, two satellites S I are provided, in a schematically representing part of a grid with a plurality of satellites S I. These satellites SI are all provided with the first and second communication device 1, 2. Furthermore, in this drawing, two portable devices R are shown. The drawing further shows a server S with a database D. Often the server is remote from the satellites S I. In an embodiment, at least one of the satellites may incorporate server S. The server S may even be distributed over various satellites S I. The database D may in an embodiment be provided on at least one satellite S I. Database D may be distributed over various satellites S I to provide more flexibility and robustness.

Both satellites comprise a communication line 11 for communication with server S. this communication line 11 can be wired, or may be a wireless communication line, for instance for communicating via WIFI, or other wireless communication possibilities known to a skilled person. Furthermore, in this embodiment the satellites S I comprise a satellite communication line 12 for communicating directly with one another. Alternatively, communication between satellites may be facilitated via server S in ways that are as such known to a skilled person. Again, this satellite communication line may be wired, but may also be wireless, for instance using WIFI.

In this embodiment, the portable devices R comprise a communication module 10. This communication module for instance allows communication with the satellites S I, for instance via communication device 2, for instance using one of the communication apparatus CH1-CH3. Communication between the communication device 2 using communication apparatus CH1-CH3 is indicated by a connecting arrow.

In figure 2, the server S comprises a data processor 8 that controls the server S. It is functionally coupled with a database D residing in server S. The data processor 8 is further functionally coupled with a communication device 9 allowing server S to communicate with satellites S I. The data processor 8 is provided with one or more server computer programs that allows the server to communicate with satellites S I. It allows server S to receive a search query from satellites S I comprising one or more RFID identifiers from one or more RFID tags 4. The server computer program further allows the search query to run on the database D and retrieve information that is coupled with the RFID identifiers. The server computer program may allow processing of the retrieved information. The server computer program is further adapted to transmit the retrieved information to at least the requesting satellite S I. In particular, the server computer program may be adapted to transmit the retrieved information to all the satellites. To this transmission, location information may be added regarding the objects. In a rudimentary form, the information may comprise an identification of the satellite that provided the query. This may be a satellite S I that is located within communication range of the object and its RFID tag 4. The location information may also be the location of that satellite, or a location information positioning the object. The satellites S I are provided with a data processor 6. Data processor 6 is functionally coupled to the first (1) and second (2) communication devices. Data processor 6 is provided with at least one satellite computer program that allows the data processor 6 to control the first communication device 1. The satellite computer program is adapted for controlling the first communication device 1 to periodically send a scan signal 3 in its surrounding. The RFID tags 4 connected to objects O in an embodiment reflect the scan signal 3 as a response signal 5, under the addition of an RFID identifier, usually a binary number. The satellite computer program subsequently retrieves the RFID identifier from the response signal 5. The satellite computer program in an embodiment then provides the RFID identifier to the second communication device 2. The RFID identifier is added to a data package and broadcasted periodically via a communication apparatus CH4.

Alternatively, the satellite computer program communicates the RFID identifier, or a database query comprising the RFID identifier, to the server S. The satellite computer program is then adapted for receiving object information from the server S. The satellite computer program then performs the step of providing at least part of the received object information as a data package to the second communication device 2 for periodically broadcasting the data package via communication apparatus CH4. The satellite computer program may add or retrieve further object information from at least one selected from the satellite S I itself, from at least one other satellite S I, or even from a remote device R, for instance via communication apparatus CH4 or second communication device 2. The broadcasted information may also comprise data that is dependent from the received RFID information. The broadcasted information may for instance be a combination of information from more than one RFID tag. The Broadcasted information may also comprise time information and/or sensor information. For example, an object like a wheelchair in a hospital may be provided with an RFID tag. This tag is read by a satellite and can indicate whether a wheelchair is occupied or not. Then the satellite may broadcast a beacon comprising the information that an empty/available wheelchair is present in its zone.

Using modern server implementations for instance using cloud computing, it is evident that a server (S) can be modular, and/or distributed. Thus, at least one of the computer program and the database may also be distributed. It will also be clear that the above description and drawings are included to illustrate some embodiments of the invention, and not to limit the scope of protection. Starting from this disclosure, many more embodiments will be evident to a skilled person. These embodiments are within the scope of protection and the essence of this invention and are obvious combinations of prior art techniques and the disclosure of this patent.

Claims

Claims
1. An information transmission method using a satellite for transmitting information on an object comprising an RFID tag to at least one portable device, said method comprising:
- said satellite at time intervals sending a scan signal and waiting for a response signal from said RFID tag, said response signal comprising an RFID identifier;
- said satellite retrieving said RFID identifier from said response signal, and
- said satellite, in response to said response signal, during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcasts one or more beacon signals, each beacon signal comprising data selected from information regarding objects coupled to said RFID tags from which a response signal is received, said RFID identifier of said response signal, properties of said RFID tags of said response signal, an indication of a distance of said RFID tags of said response signal from said satellite, and a combination thereof.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said time intervals are substantially equal time intervals.
3. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said RFID tag comprise passive tags reflecting at least part of the scan signal or modified scan signal, under the addition of an RFID identifier.
4. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said satellite:
- contacts at least one server which comprises a database of RFID identifiers and information on an object coupled to said RFID identifier;
- transmits said RFID identifier to said server, and
- receives from said server at least some information on said object.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein said satellite adds at least part of said information on said object to said beacon signal.
6. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said portable device:
- comprises an indication of an object that is searched;
- receives a beacon signal;
- extracts said data from said beacon signal;
- compares at least part of said data with said indication of said searched object;
- provides an indication when a beacon signal is received that comprises information of said searched object.
7. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said data comprises information representing a location indication of said object.
8. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said beacon signal
comprises data, in particular said beacon signal is an Bluetooth LE advertising signal.
9. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said advertising channel of said data comprises one selected from said RFID identifier, object information, object location information.
10. The method of any one of the preceding claims, comprising a series of satellites with said satellites located within a wireless communication range of one another, said satellites in contact with one another for exchanging object information.
11. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein said satellites are located in a grid at a mutual distance of between 5 and 200 meters, in a building said satellites are provided at a mutual distance of between 5 and 50 meters.
12. An information transmission system comprising:
- at least one server (S) comprising a data processor and a database (D) comprising information on objects coupled with RFID identifiers of RFID tags connected with said objects;
- at least one satellite (S I) positioned in an environment, said satellite provided with a first communication device comprising an RFID reader for reading RFID tags that are present in a working range of said RFID reader, said satellite comprising a communication line to said server (S) for communicating data with said server, a second communication device comprising at least one broadcasting apparatus for during a time interval periodically wirelessly broadcasting data, said server further comprises a computer program which, when running on said data processor, enables said server (S) to:
- receive RFID identifiers;
- perform a query on said database for retrieving object information on objects connected to RFID tags connected to said objects, and
- transmit said object information;
said satellite comprising a computer program which enables said satellite to:
- at time intervals activate the RFID reader to scan for RFID tags, and read an RFID identifier of each scanned RFID tag;
- transmitting said RFID identifiers to said server (S), for looking up said RFID identifiers in said database (D);
- retrieve from said server (S) said object information regarding objects coupled to said scanned RFID tags;
- periodically broadcast said retrieved object information in a periodical series of broadcasts, each broadcast comprising data comprising said object information.
13. The system of claim 12, comprising a series of said satellites (S I), with each
satellite at least in a wireless communication distance from one another.
14. The system of claims 12-13, wherein said broadcasting apparatus is a Bluetooth apparatus, in particular a Bluetooth LE apparatus.
15. The system of claim 14, wherein said broadcast uses a Bluetooth non-connectable undirected advertising mode.
16. A satellite for transmitting information to at least one portable device, said satellite comprising:
- a data processor;
- a first communication device comprising an RFID reader;
- a second communication device, comprising at least one wireless data transmission apparatus;
- computer software which, when running on said data processor, performs the steps of:
- at time intervals activating said first communication device for sending a scan signal for RFID tags within a working range of said satellite, and reading RFID identifiers for said RFID tags;
- transmit at least one selected from said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers to said second communication device;
- control said second communication device for during a subsequent time interval periodically wirelessly broadcast data selected from said RFID identifiers and information derived from said RFID identifiers.
17. The satellite according to claim 16, wherein said computer software further
perform the steps of:
- deriving from said response signal location information for said RFID tags.
18. A data carrier provided with the computer program of any one of the preceding claims.
19. A signal carrying at least part of said computer program of any one of the
preceding claims.
20. A signal sequence representing a program for being executed on a computer, said signal sequence representing said computer program of claim .
-o-o-o-o-o-
PCT/NL2014/050370 2014-06-06 2014-06-06 An information transmission method WO2015187005A1 (en)

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