US 8094010 Programmable communicator

ABSTRACT – A programmable communicator device is disclosed having a wireless communications circuit, including an antenna, configured to receive a transmission, and an identity module having a unique identifier. The programmable communicator further includes a processing module including program code configured to determine if the transmission is from an authenticated caller by determining whether a received transmission contains the unique identifier, and memory configured to store telephone numbers or IP addresses received in transmissions from an authenticated caller.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a programmable wireless communications apparatus. More particularly, it relates to a programmable wireless communications apparatus, which can provide an improved means of communication between children and their parents, between elderly persons and caring relatives, and between mentally less-able individuals and supervising adults. In addition, the invention provides a solution for smart clothes applications, which may comprise a telecommunications means within the lining of a jacket or other article of clothing, as well as a solution for user-programmable data tags which convey information from remotely located devices such as vending machines. The invention relates to and significantly improves upon a previously filed patent application claiming Finnish priority of Sep. 9, 1997 entitled a Portable Hotlink Communicator published as international patent application PCT/GB98/02715.

In this previously filed application, is taught the invention of using a mobile phone comprising a programmable identity module such as a SIM card, in the context of the GSM telecommunications standard, to program the number of any mobile or fixed telephone to which the Hotlink communicator, comprising a similar type of programmable identity module, is to be linked. Existing and known methods of communication between the mobile phone and Hotlink communicator for the purpose of programming comprise the obvious choice of data calls such as the Short Message Service in the GSM telecommunications standard. Alternatively a PDA type communicator might call up a web page to instruct a network element to program the programmable identity module of the Hotlink with the number of any fixed or mobile telephone to which the Hotlink communicator is to be linked.

This use of a separate mobile phone to program the number to which the Hotlink may call is particularly useful and convenient should a parent wish to change the number if the parent must leave shortly and want that the Hotlink is connected immediately to the mobile phone or fixed line of another parent or supervising neighbour.

The current invention builds upon the teaching of this earlier application and extends the concept significantly that it has more general and suitable application to both the child Hotlink communicator and also to the field of programmable wireless data communication tags for the purpose of providing information about the status of a vending machine or other piece of technical equipment such as a home appliance or a device to monitor whether a door is open or closed.

In addition to this, the current invention relates directly to programmable wireless data communication tags, which comprise the means to be interfaced directly with other technical equipment such that each tag can be programmed remotely by any means to be linked to any fixed or mobile telephone to enable data to be sent to or from the device and to allow a person to make a voice call connection to the linked telephone.

Today parents are concerned whether to provide a young child with a mobile phone or not. The concern relates to the cost of the mobile phone should it be lost or stolen and also to the cost of the use of the mobile phone. Clearly there is a need to provide a means to limit the cost of calling and also to provide a means to prevent the child dialing overseas numbers for extensive periods of time.

In the context of mobile phone operators, there exists a need to provide a simple and effective communication device, which can provide the means for family tariffing such that subscriptions for children can be related to the subscriptions of their parents’ mobile phones. An improved child Hotlink communicator, which restricts the usage of the mobile phone and thereby does not generate high charges through uncontrolled calling, is clearly a solution to the family tariffing challenge.

Parents are often concerned about the whereabouts of their children and new positioning technologies are being developed for locating mobile phones. These solutions include self-positioning solutions and remote positioning solutions. One example of a self-positioning solution includes the satellite-based Global Positioning System technology in which the mobile phone comprising a GPS signal processing circuit is able to determine the coordinates of its own position by processing signals received from satellites and communicate these coordinates to a location centre associated with the network. One example of a remote positioning solution is the method taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,051,741 claiming priority of Mar. 27, 1990 in which the mobile phone is paged and caused to transmit a response which is processed by communication stations such as time-of-arrival measurement units associated with the network of master stations or base stations.

This remote positioning method has the advantage that the position of the mobile phone can be determined by making use of existing signalling between the mobile phone and the network without requiring any changes to the mobile phone, which would increase its cost. The generic network-based, remote-positioning architecture method of U.S. Pat. No. 5,051,741 may make use of time of arrival methods or phase difference calculations to increase the resolution of the area or sector within which the mobile phone is located.

While the location of the mobile phone itself is a good indication of the present location of the person carrying the mobile phone, an improvement would be a means to lock the mobile phone to the child, such that use of the mobile phone positioning technologies would then determine the position of the child.

In addition to these concerns about the failures of existing mobile communications technology to provide an improved and more secure method of instant communication between a parent and a young child, and the means to determine the position of the child, there is additional concern that the battery of the communicator may drain its power without the parent knowing, or may be removed, which would prevent the communicator from receiving calls or dialing to the programmed fixed or mobile number to which the communicator is linked.

In addition to these specific communication problem needs, there is a growing yet unsubstantiated concern about the potentially harmful effect of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones upon the developing brains of young children. Within this context, there is an opportunity to design a communication device for children, which positions the radiating electromagnetic field of a communication device away from the close proximity of the brain. In this regard, parents who maintain the belief that mobile telephones present a health risk due to the radiating antenna may rest secure in the knowledge that this risk can be significantly reduced.

In a separate context, there exists a growing need for a mobile telephone solution, which is cost effective to manufacture, but which is versatile such that it can form the basis for a smart clothes tag or communications application platform. In this context the requirement is for an embedded mobile phone platform comprising no keypad or display, which may be sewn into the lining of a jacket, or other article of clothing, having only the call button protruding and a simple pin connection to recharge the battery. The problem with prior art solutions is that unless the smart clothes tag can be user-programmable to call any fixed or mobile number by making use of an acceptable method such as via an SMS data call or via a BlueTooth radio transmission from a mobile phone or intelligent PDA, the solution is impractical to implement.

In security applications where emergency service personnel carry hand-held primary communications devices such as conventional mobile phones, a back-up communications device such as a smart clothes embedded tag can be of great value in the instance that the primary communications device is lost or broken.

In sports areas such as on lakes where there may be people using canoes, a smart clothes communications tag embedded in a life vest may serve to alert a central control point that a person is in difficulty and also to alert other persons in the area to go to their rescue.

In an additional application area, skiers in difficulty would benefit from a smart clothes user-programmable communications tag attached to their clothing, which is pre-programmed to be linked with a fixed or mobile telephone and need only have its protruding button pressed to make communication with a central alarm point.

In an additional application area there exists the need for a user-programmable remote wireless communications data tag, which can be used to relay information about the status of a remote piece of technical equipment such as a vending machine. Home networks could be simplified by making use of the existing mobile network infrastructure to relay data about the status of a home appliance or to indicate whether a door is open or closed. Packet switched technologies such as GPRS may be used as the radio access technology to communicate the status of the technical equipment.

In an additional application area there exists the need for a versatile communications platform, which can be combined with remote health monitoring technology to assist doctors with remote diagnosis of patients.

In an additional application there is the need for a versatile communications which is able to work effectively when the network is temporarily overloaded such that it has the means to store a sound message as a sound byte or convert it using voice recognition software such that it can be forwarded as soon as the network capacity becomes less loaded.

Further to these limitations of existing technologies, and so far as is known, no portable communication apparatus is presently available which serves to offer an improved programmable communicator which is directed towards the specific needs of this problem area as outlined.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Certain of the foregoing and related objects are readily-attained according to the present invention by the provision of a novel portable programmable communicator, which serves to address the diverse communication requirements of children and elderly persons and for the purposes of remote data monitoring applications such as for monitoring the status of remote technical devices.

The programmable communicator preferably comprises a basic mobile telephone circuit having no keypad or display and a rechargeable battery and antenna and a basic two-way microphone device and remotely pre-programmable identity module linking it to a single mobile or fixed telephone. Where appropriate, in alternative embodiments, the programmable communicator comprises an alarm means to indicate certain conditions of the communicator such as the charge level of its battery or if the battery is removed. Similar alarm messages are generated according to the particular embodiment of the programmable communicator application which include the generation of messages when an associated wrist strap or attachment of the communicator in the case of a smart clothes application is undone or displaced or when the communicator is switched on or off or when the communicator is set to monitor the status condition of an associated device and the status changes beyond a preset threshold level. The invention also includes the generation of periodic messages to indicate that the communicator is working and that any associated status condition thresholds remain unchanged. This last set of messages, which includes periodic reassurances messages includes the facility that the user may set the duration of the period according to the application.

The programmable communicator has direct and effective application to home networks for the purpose of transmitting information about the status condition of domestic appliances such as the pressure of water pipes and whether a door or window is opened or closed. The wireless programmable communicator can be attached to an associated monitoring device and programmed with the number of a mobile or fixed telephone to which it is to be linked or to an Internet web page which can be made accessible to authenticated users or to security monitoring personnel.

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, which disclose one embodiment of the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and that the particular description of the portable hot link communicating apparatus is given by way of example only and does not limit the scope of the invention.

 

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