WO2016160895A1 - Energy harvesting for a merchandise security system - Google Patents

Energy harvesting for a merchandise security system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2016160895A1
WO2016160895A1 PCT/US2016/024857 US2016024857W WO2016160895A1 WO 2016160895 A1 WO2016160895 A1 WO 2016160895A1 US 2016024857 W US2016024857 W US 2016024857W WO 2016160895 A1 WO2016160895 A1 WO 2016160895A1
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WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
sensor
merchandise
item
base
security system
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2016/024857
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Gary A. TAYLOR
Original Assignee
Invue Security Products Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/02Mechanical actuation
    • G08B13/14Mechanical actuation by lifting or attempted removal of hand-portable articles
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E05LOCKS; KEYS; WINDOW OR DOOR FITTINGS; SAFES
    • E05BLOCKS; ACCESSORIES THEREFOR; HANDCUFFS
    • E05B73/00Devices for locking portable objects against unauthorised removal; Miscellaneous locking devices
    • E05B73/0017Anti-theft devices, e.g. tags or monitors, fixed to articles, e.g. clothes, and to be removed at the check-out of shops

Abstract

Embodiments of the present invention are directed to security systems for securing an item of merchandise from theft or unauthorized removal. For example, the security system may include a sensor configured to be coupled to the item of merchandise and a base configured to be secured to a support surface and to removably support the sensor and the item of merchandise thereon. The security system also includes a power source operably engaged with the sensor and/or the base, and an energy harvesting mechanism operably engaged with the power source and configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.

Description

ENERGY HARVESTING FOR A

MERCHANDISE SECURITY SYSTEM

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0002] The present application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/140,731, filed on March 31, 2015, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entity.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Embodiments of the present invention relate generally to security systems for protecting items of merchandise, such as consumer electronics products.

[0004] It is common practice for retailers to provide demonstration models of consumer electronics products, such as handheld devices, tablets, and laptop computers, so that a potential purchaser may examine the product more closely and test the operation of its features. A working demonstration model, however, increases the possibility that the demonstration model will be stolen or removed from the display area by an unauthorized person. As a result, demonstration models of consumer electronics products are typically protected by a security system that permits a potential purchaser to examine and operate the product, while reducing the likelihood that the demonstration model will be stolen or removed from the display area.

[0005] The security system displays an item of merchandise so that a potential purchaser can readily view and, in some instances, operate the item when making a decision whether to purchase the item. At the same time, the item of merchandise is usually physically secured on the security system so as to prevent, or at least deter, theft of the item. The merchandise display security system may also include an alarm that is activated to alert store personnel in the event that a shoplifter attempts to separate the item of merchandise from the security system. The merchandise display security system may also include a power source for performing various functions. BRIEF SUMMARY

[0006] Embodiments of the present invention are directed to security systems for securing an item of merchandise from theft. In one embodiment, a security system includes a sensor configured to be coupled to the item of merchandise and a base configured to be secured to a support surface and to removably support the sensor and the item of merchandise thereon. The security system also includes a power source operably engaged with the sensor and/or the base and an energy harvesting mechanism operably engaged with the power source and configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.

[0007] In another embodiment, a method for securing an item of merchandise from theft is provided. The method includes coupling a sensor to the item of merchandise and securing a base to a support surface. The base is configured to removably support the sensor and the item of merchandise thereon, and a power source is operably engaged with the sensor and/or the base. An energy harvesting mechanism is operably engaged with the power source and is configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.

[0008] According to one embodiment, a security system includes a sensor configured to be coupled to the item of merchandise and an alarm mechanism operably engaged with the sensor and configured to generate an alarm signal in response to unauthorized removal of the sensor from the item of merchandise. The security system also includes a power source operably engaged with the sensor and/or the alarm mechanism and an energy harvesting mechanism operably engaged with the power source and configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a schematic of a security system according to one embodiment of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

[0010] Referring to the accompanying figures wherein identical reference numerals denote the same elements throughout the various views, the attached figures illustrate embodiments of security systems according to the present invention for protecting an item of merchandise against theft or unauthorized removal. The item of merchandise may be any item, including any number of consumer electronics products (e.g. hand-held device, cellular phone, smart phone, tablet, laptop computer, etc.). The security systems described herein are operable for securing the item of merchandise against theft or authorized removal, while at the same time permitting a potential purchaser to closely examine and operate the item of merchandise in a display area. The security system permits a potential purchaser to examine and test the item of merchandise, while reducing the likelihood that the item of merchandise will be stolen or removed from the display area by an unauthorized person. According to various embodiments, FIG. 1 shows a security system for use with a handheld electronic device (e.g., a phone or tablet). The systems shown and described herein are suitable for securing an item of merchandise in a residential or commercial environment, as well as a retail environment, and furthermore, is not intended to be limited to use only as a security display device for protecting against theft and/or unauthorized removal.

[0011] According to one embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the security system 10 generally comprises a sensor 12 configured to be secured to an item of merchandise 14. The sensor may be electrically connected to an adapter cable 16 with a connector 15 that is configured to electrically connect to an input jack of the item of merchandise. The security system 10 may also include a base 18 that is configured to removably support the sensor 12 and the item of merchandise 14 thereon. In some embodiments, the base 18 and the sensor 12 include one or more contacts 28, 40 for facilitating contact charging when the sensor is supported on the base. In addition, the security system 10 may also include a cable 20 that is secured to the sensor 12 at one end and operably engaged with a recoiler 22 at an opposite end. As explained in further detail below, a sense circuit or loop may be defined through the cable 20. As such, the sense loop may be used to detect various security events associated with the cable 20, such as the cable being cut, shorted, and/or disconnected. A charging circuit may be provided in the sensor 12 and/or base 18 for the charging of the item of merchandise 14 and/or power source carried by the sensor. The sensor 12 and/or base 18 may detect security events associated with the sensor and/or the item of merchandise 14, such as the item of merchandise being removed from the sensor.

[0012] The sensor 12 may be secured to the item of merchandise 14 using any desired technique, such as an adhesive and/or mechanical brackets. In addition, the adapter cable 16 may be hardwired to the sensor 12 at one end, and the connector 15 at the opposite end may be configured to be removably inserted into the input jack of the item of merchandise 14. Thus, the sensor 12 and the item of merchandise 14 may be electrically connected via the adapter cable 16 and connector 15. The sensor 12 may include a printed circuit board (PCB) 24, circuitry, or the like. Moreover, the sensor 12 may include a battery or capacitor 26. As noted above, the sensor 12 may include one or more electrical contacts 28. In some embodiments, the sensor 12 includes a plurality of electrical contacts 28. The electrical contacts 28 may be in electrical communication with the PCB 24 and the adapter cable 16. Alternatively, the electrical contacts 28 may be electrically connected to only the adapter cable 16. In some embodiments, the sensor 12 may not include electrical contacts 28, and the item of merchandise 14 may be provided power via the cable 20 and the adapter cable 16, such that the power may be transferred from a remote power source 42, through the cables, and to the item of merchandise.

[0013] The sensor 12 may be configured to detect various security events. For example, a security event may occur when the sensor 12 is removed from the item of merchandise 14 in an unauthorized manner, or the adapter cable 16 is removed from the item of merchandise in an unauthorized manner. In some embodiments, the sensor 12 includes a switch 33 (e.g., a plunger switch) that is configured to detect when the sensor is removed from the item of merchandise 14 in an unauthorized manner.

[0014] The base 18 may be configured to be supported on a fixed support 19 or display surface, such as a counter, shelf, fixture, or the like. Thus, the base 18 may be located entirely above the support surface. The base 18 may be secured to the support surface 19 using any desired technique such as an adhesive and/or fasteners. In other embodiments, the base 18 may be located below the support surface 19. The base 18 may include a recoiler 22 as discussed above. As such, the cable 20 may be extended from the base 18 when the sensor 12 and the item of merchandise 14 are lifted from the base, and the cable may be retracted into the base when the sensor and the item of merchandise are returned to the base. The recoiler 22 may be spring biased in some embodiments such that the cable 20 is automatically retracted within the base 18. Furthermore, the base 18 may include a PCB 32, circuitry, or the like that is in electrical communication with the cable 20 and/or the sensor 12. In this regard, the cable 20 may include one or more electrical conductors extending along the length of the cable. In some cases, the cable 20 may include a pair of conductors for defining a sense loop or circuit and conducting an electrical signal. In other cases, the cable 20 may include a single conductor, such as an optical conductor for conducting an optical signal (e.g., a fiber optic cable).

[0015] The base 18 may further include an alarm mechanism 34, such as a piezoelectric transducer, for generating an alarm signal (e.g., an audible and/or a visible alarm) in response to a security event. The base 18 may also include a battery 31 or power source that is in electrical communication with the PCB 32. The base may include a port 36 that is configured to facilitate communication with a key 39. For example, the port 36 may facilitate wireless communication with a key 39 for arming or disarming the security system. In one embodiment, the key 39 is an infrared key configured to arm/disarm the alarm mechanism 34 with a unique identifying code. In some embodiments, the key 39 is similar to the IR and IR2 keys manufactured by InVue Security Products Inc. The base 18 may include a switch 38 (e.g., a plunger switch) that is configured to detect when the base is removed from the support surface 19 in an unauthorized manner. As such, the security system 10 may be a "standalone" system that is configured to detect various security events and configured to be supported on a display surface 19. However, it is understood that in other embodiments, the base 18 may be employed to removably support the item of merchandise 14, and any sensing and alarming electronics or circuitry may be located remotely from the base, such as below the support surface 19.

[0016] As discussed above, the base 18 may include one or more electrical contacts 40. The contacts 28, 40 of the base and the sensor 12 are configured to align with one another and contact one another when the sensor is supported on the base. Thus, base 18 and the sensor 12 are in electrical communication with one another when the sensor is supported on the base. The base 18 may be electrically connected to a power source 42 which is configured to provide power to the base and the one or more electrical contacts 40 in the base. The power source 42 may include a connector at a free end (e.g., a USB or like plug). The base 18 may also include charging circuitry 45 that is configured to facilitate power transfer from the external source of power and the electrical contacts 40. Thus, when the sensor 12 is supported on the base 18, power is able to be transferred between the contacts 28, 40 and to the sensor. The adapter cable 16 is electrically connected to the sensor contacts 28 as power is delivered such that power is provided to the item of merchandise 14. Therefore, the item of merchandise 14 may be powered by power transferred thereto and may be used to charge a battery associated with the item of merchandise. In some embodiments, any voltage adaption occurs in the base 18. Voltage adaption may be needed in order to accommodate different items of merchandise 14 that require different operating voltages. Any voltage adaption may occur prior to power being provided to the contacts 28 on the sensor 12. Thus, the sensor 12 and adapter cable 16 may not provide any voltage adaption. In one embodiment, the adapter cable 16 connector may include an LED or visual indicator that is activated when the item of merchandise 14 is being charged. The LED may be deactivated when the sensor 12 is lifted from the base 18.

[0017] In some cases as noted above, the sensor 12 may not include electrical contacts 28. Likewise, the base 18 may not include electrical contacts 40 in some embodiments, such as where electrical power is transferred via cable 20 and adapter cable 16.

[0018] An end of cable 20 may be mechanically and/or electrically secured to the sensor 12. Thus, the cable 20 may be electrically connected to the sensor 12, and the conductors in the cable may be configured to transfer power to the sensor and the item of merchandise 14. In one example, the cable 20 may be attached to the sensor 12 with a swivel 44 or like connector to allow for rotational movement between the sensor and the cable. The swivel 44 could be permanently attached to the sensor 12 or could be removably attached if desired. Although the aforementioned embodiments describe that power may be transferred via contact charging, it is understood that other techniques could be used to transfer power to sensor 12 and the item of merchandise 14. For example, inductive charging functionality could be employed for transferring power, or via one or more cables as discussed above. Moreover, the cable 20 may be only mechanically connected to the sensor 12 in some embodiments such that the sensor 12 and the cable are electrically isolated from one another.

[0019] It is understood that the cable 20 may be any suitable cord, tether, or the like. In addition, the cable 20 may include one or more electrical conductors for transmitting electrical, security, and/or communication signals. In addition, the cable 20 may be a single strand, multi- strand, or braided. The cable 20 may be flexible to facilitate extension and retraction with the base 18, and in some embodiments, may be formed of a cut-resistant material. Furthermore, the cable 20 may have various cross sections, such as round or flat. In some embodiments, the security system 10 may not include a recoiler 22. Thus, the cable 20 could be a straight or coiled cable that is secured to the sensor 12 at one end and electrically connected to base 18 at an opposite end.

[0020] In alternative embodiments, the cable 20 may be omitted, such as where a "wireless" system is employed. Thus, the sensor 12 and the base 18 may not be connected via a cable 20 and wireless security could be employed whereby the sensor and the base communicate wirelessly. Example of such wireless systems are disclosed in U.S. Application No. 13/474,862, entitled Systems and Methods for Protecting Retail Display Merchandise from Theft, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/935,487, entitled Systems and Methods for Protecting Retail Display Merchandise from Theft, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

[0021] Various sensing techniques may be employed for determining whether the cable 20 has been cut or removed from the sensor 12 in an unauthorized manner. For example, the cable 20 may include a pair of electrical conductors that define a sense loop therethrough. Thus, should the sense loop be interrupted (e.g., by cutting or shorting the cable 20), the PCB 32 in the base 18 may detect the interruption and generate an alarm signal. Likewise, the PCB 32 in the base 18 may also be configured to detect when the item of merchandise 14 is removed from the sensor 12 and/or the adapter cable 16 being removed or cut. The sensor 12 may communicate with the base 18 when such security events occur, or the base could be configured to detect the security events.

[0022] In one embodiment, the merchandise security system 10 comprises an "energy harvesting" mechanism 50. According to one aspect, the energy harvesting mechanism 50 may be operably engaged with the sensor 12 and/or the base 18. One or more energy harvesting mechanisms 50 may be employed, such as one for the sensor 12 and one for the base 18. Thus, the merchandise security system 10 may include means for generating electrical energy to be stored, such as by a battery 26, 31, capacitor, or other power source. The battery 26, 31 may be used for providing power to various components of the merchandise security system 10 to perform various functions, such as, for example, providing power to the PCB 24, 32 and/or alarm mechanism 34. In some cases, the energy harvesting mechanism 50 may include one or more of the following means for generating electrical energy: light, motion, vibration, temperature, radiofrequency energy, and movement. In one example, user interaction may be used to produce electrical energy to be stored by the battery 26, 31 , such as where the recoiler 22 is extended and retracted. Electrical energy may be generated in this manner via rotation of the recoiler 22, wherein rotation of the recoiler generates an electrical charge to be stored.

[0023] In some embodiments, the energy harvesting mechanism 50 may comprise a window and solar cells for receiving light, or alternatively an adhesive member secured to the base 18 including solar cells for receiving light. The energy harvesting mechanism 50 may utilize vibration and/or motion sensors for harvesting energy, such as by detecting users interacting with the security system 10 or walking in proximity thereto. Moreover, changes in temperature may be used to harvest energy, such as where a retail store lowers the temperature outside of business hours and raises the temperature during business hours.

[0024] In some embodiments, techniques for energy harvesting may be similar to that described in U.S. Application No. 13/538,386, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

[0025] The energy harvesting mechanism 50 may provide several advantages. For instance, the size of the battery 31 may be reduced thereby allowing the size of the base 18 to be reduced. Likewise, where the sensor 12 includes an energy harvesting mechanism 50, the size of the sensor may be able to be reduced. Moreover, the need to monitor battery life may be unnecessary since battery replacement is reduced if not eliminated. In addition, the use of an energy harvesting mechanism allows the security system to be positioned in locations that may not otherwise have an available external power source or where the retailer desires to minimize the use of power cords.

[0026] The foregoing has described one or more embodiments of security systems for securing an item of merchandise from theft or unauthorized removal. Although various embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications thereto can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description is provided for the purpose of illustration only, and not for the purpose of limitation.

Claims

That which is claimed is:
1. A security system for securing an item of merchandise from theft, comprising: a sensor configured to be coupled to the item of merchandise;
a base configured to be secured to a support surface and to removably support the sensor and the item of merchandise thereon;
a power source operably engaged with the sensor and/or the base; and
an energy harvesting mechanism operably engaged with the power source and configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.
2. The security system of Claim 1, wherein the energy harvesting mechanism utilizes at least one of light, motion, vibration, temperature, radiofrequency energy, or movement to generate electrical energy.
3. The security system of Claim 1, further comprising a cable electrically connecting the sensor to the base, wherein the cable is configured to define a sense loop therethrough.
4. The security system of Claim 3, further comprising an alarm mechanism operably engaged with the base and configured to generate an alarm signal when the item of merchandise is removed from the sensor or the sense loop is interrupted.
5. The security system of Claim 3, wherein the energy harvesting mechanism is operably engaged with the cable, and wherein extension and retraction of the cable is configured to generate electrical energy.
6. The security system of Claim 5, further comprising a recoiler operably engaged with the cable and the energy harvesting mechanism.
7. The security system of Claim 1, wherein the energy harvesting mechanism comprises a solar cell.
8. The security system of Claim 1, wherein the energy harvesting mechanism comprises a temperature sensor.
9. The security system of Claim 1, wherein the energy harvesting mechanism comprises a vibration sensor.
10. The security system of Claim 1, further comprising a plurality of energy harvesting mechanisms, wherein at least one energy harvesting mechanism is associated with the sensor and at least one energy harvesting mechanism is associated with the base.
11. A method for securing an item of merchandise from theft, comprising:
coupling a sensor to the item of merchandise; and
securing a base to a support surface, the base configured to removably support the sensor and the item of merchandise thereon,
wherein a power source is operably engaged with the sensor and/or the base, and wherein an energy harvesting mechanism is operably engaged with the power source and is configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.
12. The method of Claim 11, further comprising moving the sensor relative to the base for generating electrical energy with the energy harvesting mechanism.
13. A security system for securing an item of merchandise from theft, comprising: a sensor configured to be coupled to the item of merchandise;
an alarm mechanism operably engaged with the sensor and configured to generate an alarm signal in response to unauthorized removal of the sensor from the item of merchandise; a power source operably engaged with the sensor and/or the alarm mechanism; and an energy harvesting mechanism operably engaged with the power source and configured to generate electrical energy to be stored by the power source.
PCT/US2016/024857 2015-03-31 2016-03-30 Energy harvesting for a merchandise security system WO2016160895A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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US201562140731 true 2015-03-31 2015-03-31
US62/140,731 2015-03-31

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Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE102017102840A1 (en) 2017-02-13 2018-08-16 Oliver Zander EAS system with enhanced security

Citations (5)

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US20070205902A1 (en) * 2006-03-03 2007-09-06 Checkpoint Systems, Inc. Rf release mechanism for hard tag
US20100148965A1 (en) * 2008-12-16 2010-06-17 Sensormatic Electronics Corporation Method and system for item level uhf rfid tag with low frequency power assist
US20100315248A1 (en) * 2009-05-18 2010-12-16 Townsend Christopher P Component RFID Tag with Non-Volatile Display of Component Use
US20120032803A1 (en) * 2010-08-09 2012-02-09 Sensormatic Electronics, LLC Security tag with integrated eas and energy harvesting magnetic element
WO2014149248A2 (en) * 2013-03-15 2014-09-25 Invue Security Products Inc. Kiosk security for portable electronic device

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20070205902A1 (en) * 2006-03-03 2007-09-06 Checkpoint Systems, Inc. Rf release mechanism for hard tag
US20100148965A1 (en) * 2008-12-16 2010-06-17 Sensormatic Electronics Corporation Method and system for item level uhf rfid tag with low frequency power assist
US20100315248A1 (en) * 2009-05-18 2010-12-16 Townsend Christopher P Component RFID Tag with Non-Volatile Display of Component Use
US20120032803A1 (en) * 2010-08-09 2012-02-09 Sensormatic Electronics, LLC Security tag with integrated eas and energy harvesting magnetic element
WO2014149248A2 (en) * 2013-03-15 2014-09-25 Invue Security Products Inc. Kiosk security for portable electronic device

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE102017102840A1 (en) 2017-02-13 2018-08-16 Oliver Zander EAS system with enhanced security

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