Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2734301 Summary

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(12) Patent Application: (11) CA 2734301
(54) English Title: AN AUTOMATICALLY CONFIGURABLE SENSING DEVICE
(54) French Title: DISPOSITIF DE DETECTION A CONFIGURATION AUTOMATIQUE
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • G01D 9/00 (2006.01)
  • G01D 3/02 (2006.01)
  • G01K 1/02 (2006.01)
  • G01L 19/08 (2006.01)
  • H04L 12/16 (2006.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • LACHAPELLE, DENIS (Canada)
(73) Owners :
  • SYSACOM (Canada)
(71) Applicants :
  • SYSACOM (Canada)
(74) Agent: BENOIT & COTE INC.
(45) Issued:
(22) Filed Date: 2011-03-17
(41) Open to Public Inspection: 2012-09-17
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

English Abstract





The present document describes a ready to use sensing device which is
auto--configurable when turned on. The sensing device includes one or more
sensors
and a communication port. When turned on, the system automatically contacts a
central server via the communication port and requests the address of a second

server with which the sensing device is associated. Upon receipt of the
address
of the second server, the sensing device contacts the second server and
requests its customized configuration settings. When received, the
configuration
settings are installed, and the sensing device starts to sample the output of
the
sensors and sends the samples to the second server for storage. The user may
view the measurement data by accessing the second server through the internet.

The minimum memory capacity required for operating the sensing device is very
low, due to the fact that the samples are sent to the second server every time
the
samples are taken.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.




CLAIMS:


1. An auto-configurable sensing device for sensing at least one parameter in
a measurement site, said device comprising:
- at least one sensor for sensing a parameter of the measurement site;
- a communication port; and
- a processor having access to statements and instructions which when
executed, cause the processor to:
a. contact a first server requesting an address of a second
server, via said communication port;
b. contact the second server requesting configuration settings;
c. install said configuration settings;
d. sample, based on the configuration settings, measurement
data received from said at least one sensor; and
e. send sampled measurement data to said second server for
storage.


2. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the communication port is one of
Ethernet port, and a Wi-Fi port.


3. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the configuration settings include a

sampling frequency used for sampling an output of the at least one sensor.


4. The sensing device of claim 3, wherein the configuration settings further
include firmware configuration of the sensing device.


5. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one sensor includes at
least one of temperature sensor, pressure sensor, humidity sensor, radiation
sensor, luminosity sensor, contact sensor, and toxic gasses sensor.



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6. The sensing device of claim 3, wherein sending the sampled
measurement data is performed each time sample measurement data is taken at
the measurement frequency.


7. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the sensing device contacts the
second server periodically for verifying the presence of newer configuration
settings.


8. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the first server selects the second
server from a list including a plurality of second servers.


9. The sensing device of claim 8, wherein the sensing device is pre-assigned
to one of the plurality of second servers.


10. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein the sensing device acts as a client

element in a communication network connecting the first server, the second
server and the sensing device.


11. A ready to use sensing device, comprising:
- at least one sensor for sensing a parameter of the measurement
site;
- a communication port; and
- an auto-configurable processor adapted to
a) automatically contact a first server, though said
communication port, requesting the address of a second server,
b) download and install configuration settings from the second
server, said configuration settings including sampling frequency;
c) sample, based on said sampling frequency, measurement
data received from said at least one sensor; and
d) send sampled measurement data to said second server for
storage.



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Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.


CA 02734301 2011-03-17
File No. P1693CA00

AN AUTOMATICALLY CONFIGURABLE SENSING DEVICE
[0001] This application is the first disclosure of this subject matter.
BACKGROUND
(a) Field
[0002] The subject matter disclosed generally relates to a sensing device.
More particularly, the subject matter relates to a sensing device for the
continuous monitoring of one or more parameters in a measurement site.

(b) Related Prior Art
[0003] Several sensing modules are found on the market for measuring
the temperature, humidity or other parameters of a measurement site such as a
fridge, server room, storage room etc.

[0004] These sensing modules require professional installation because
they are complicated to configure.

[0005] The existing sensing modules take the measurements and store
them internally in a local memory. The user may have a remote access to the
measurement data in the local memory of the module via a wide/local area
network such that Ethernet or the Internet or the like,. In order to make the
data
accessible to the user over the internet, the sensing module has to be
equipped
with server features. There are a lot of complex configurations to be done to
make a server accessible from Internet such as router port forwarding, domain
name configuration etc. These configurations increase the complexity and the
price of the sensing module.

[0006] Depending on the measurement frequency of the sensors in the
sensing module, the internal memory may hold the data for few months and then
starts to delete the old records for recoding the new ones, and so on. As the
size
of the memory increases, its size increases and so does the price of the
sensing
module.

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[0007] Accordingly, there is a need for a sensing module which is
inexpensive and simple to configure.

SUMMARY
[0008] According to an aspect, there is provided an auto-configurable
sensing device for sensing at least one parameter in a measurement site, said
device comprising:

at least one sensor for sensing a parameter of the measurement site;
a communication port; and
a processor having access to statements and instructions which when
executed, cause the processor to:
a. contact a first server requesting an address of a second
server, via said communication port;
b. contact the second server requesting configuration settings;
c. install said configuration settings;
d. sample, based on the configuration settings, measurement
data received from said at least one sensor; and
e. send sampled measurement data to said second server for
storage.
[0009] In an embodiment, the communication port is one of Ethernet port,
and a Wi-Fi port.

[0010] In another embodiment, the configuration settings include a
sampling frequency used for sampling an output of the at least one sensor. The
configuration settings may further include firmware configuration of the
sensing
device.

[0011] In yet another embodiment, the at least one sensor includes at
least one of temperature sensor, pressure sensor, humidity sensor, radiation
sensor, luminosity sensor, contact sensor, and toxic gasses sensor.

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[0012] Sending the sampled measurement data may be performed each
time sample measurement data is taken at the measurement frequency.

[0013] In another embodiment, the sensing device contacts the second
server periodically for verifying the presence of newer configuration
settings.
[0014] In an embodiment, the first server selects the second server from a
list including a plurality of second servers. The sensing device may be pre-
assigned to one of the plurality of second servers.

[0015] In a further embodiment, the sensing device acts as a client
element in a communication network connecting the first server, the second
server and the sensing device.

[0016] According to another aspect, there is provided a ready to use
sensing device, comprising:

at least one sensor for sensing a parameter of the measurement site;
a communication port; and

an auto-configurable processor adapted to

a) automatically contact a first server, though said
communication port, requesting the address of a second server,

b) download and install configuration settings from the second
server, said configuration settings including sampling frequency;

c) sample, based on said sampling frequency, measurement
data received from said at least one sensor; and

d) send sampled measurement data to said second server for
storage.

[0017] Features and advantages of the subject matter hereof will become
more' apparent in light of the following detailed description of selected
embodiments, as illustrated in the accompanying figures. As will be realized,
the
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File No. P1693CA00

subject matter disclosed and claimed is capable of modifications in various
respects, all without departing from the scope of the claims. Accordingly, the
drawings and the description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and
not
as restrictive and the full scope of the subject matter is set forth in the
claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[0018] Further features and advantages of the present disclosure will
become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in combination
with the appended drawings, in which:

[0019] Figure 1 illustrates a block diagram of a sensing device, in
accordance with an embodiment;

[0020] Figure 2a illustrates an exemplary sensing device with a housing, in
accordance with an embodiment;

[0021] Figure 2b illustrates a circuit board including a plurality of input
pins
for connecting additional sensors to the sensing device;

[0022] Figure 3 illustrates an exemplary system for remotely monitoring
the physical parameters in a measurement site using a sensing device in
accordance with the present embodiments;

[0023] Figure 4 is a flowchart illustrating the automatic configuration steps
of the sensing device 10, in accordance with an embodiment;

[0024] Figure 5 illustrates an example of an authentication page when the
user requests access to the measurement data stored in the DS;

[0025] Figure 6a illustrates a sensing device information access page, and
Figure 6b illustrates a list of sensing devices associated with a user's
profile;
[0026] Figures 7a and 7b illustrate different types of data presentations;
and

[0027] Figure 8 illustrates an example of alarm settings which are
adjustable by the user.
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[0028] It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like
features are identified by like reference numerals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
[0029] The present document describes a ready to use sensing device
which is auto-configurable when turned on. The sensing device includes one or
more sensors and a communication port. When turned on, the system
automatically contacts a central server via the communication port and
requests
the address of a second server with which the sensing device is associated.
Upon receipt of the address of the second server, the sensing device contacts
the second server and requests its customized configuration settings. When
received, the configuration settings are installed, and the sensing device
starts to
sample the output of the sensors and sends the samples to the second server
for
storage. The user may view the measurement data by accessing the second
server through the internet. The minimum memory capacity required for
operating the sensing device is very low, due to the fact that the samples are
sent to the second server every time the samples are taken.

[0030] Figure 1 illustrates a block diagram of a sensing device 10, in
accordance with an embodiment. The sensing device 10 may include one or
more sensors 12 for detecting different parameters of a measurement site such
as the temperature, pressure, humidity, radiation, luminosity, contact, the
presence of CO or other toxic or non toxic gasses or any other type of
sensors.
[0031] The measurement data output by the sensors 12 may be digitized
using an A/D converter 14 and sent to a microcontroller 16. The
microcontroller
16 receives its clock from an oscillator 18. The microcontroller 16 samples
the
measurement data received from the sensors 12 and stores the data in memory
20 temporarily. The data is then sent via a communication port 22 to a remote
server over a wide area network such as the internet. The communication port
may be an Ethernet port for connecting to the network via an Ethernet cable,
or
may include a wireless port such as a Wi-Fi or the like. According to another
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embodiment, the Wi-Fi transmitter (i.e., circuit and antenna) may be included
within the sensing device 10. The sensing device 10 may be powered by a power
supply 24. The power supply may be a battery, or an adapter for plugging in a
wall outlet, or both thereof.

[0032] An example of a sensing device 10 with a housing is shown in
Figure 2a. In the example shown in Figure 2a, the communication port 22 is an
Ethernet port, and the power supply is a power adapter 24 for receiving power
from a wall outlet. Figure 2b illustrates a circuit board including a
plurality of input
pins 19 for connecting additional sensors to the sensing device.

[0033] Figure 3 illustrates an exemplary system for remotely monitoring
the physical parameters in a measurement site using a sensing device 10 in
accordance with the present embodiments. In an embodiment, the. sensing
device 10 may be automatically configured when powered on, whereby
unsophisticated users may install the sensing device 10 at the measurement
site
without the need of a technician.

[0034] The sensing device 10 may be customized to the needs of the user,
whereby the user may preselect the type and number of sensors 12 to include in
the sensing device 10. The circuit board of the sensing device 10 may include
a
plurality of inputs 19 for adding/installing more sensors 12, as shown in
Figure
2b. In an embodiment, when the user purchases the sensing device 10, the
customer service will register the sensing device and link it to the user's
profile.
The sensing device 10 is associated to a specific Data Server (DS) 28 from a
plurality of available data servers 28. The address of the DS 28 assigned to
the
,sensing device 10 is registered in the Dynamic Address Server (DAS) 26.
Because the sensing devices do not all include the same sensors, and the
sampling frequency for each device may vary between users, customized
configuration settings corresponding to each sensing device 10 are created and
sent to the DS 28. All that is required for installing the sensing device 10
at the
measurement site is to plug the sensing device 10 in the internet and power it
on.
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In the case where the communication port is a Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi information can
be configured by the user via a configuration interface.

[0035] In operation, when an internet connection is provided at the
communication port 22 of the sensing device 10, and the device is powered on,
the sensing device 10 sends a configuration request to a remote DAS 26. The
DAS 26 contains a look-up table associating each sensing device 10 with a DS
28. The address e.g. domain name, of the DAS may be pre-stored in the memory
20 of the sensor device 10 so that the sensing device 10 may initialize the
configuration automatically as soon as it is powered on.

[0036] The DAS 26 provides the sensor device 10 with the address of the
DS 28. The sensing device contacts the DS 28 to obtain the configuration
settings including the sample refresh time and firmware revision, sensor
status
(active/inactive), and alarm definitions.. The sensing device contacts the DS
28
periodically to check whether the settings have changed.

[0037] In cases where a user wants the measurement data to be sent to a
database of his own (for security and/or confidentiality reasons etc.), the
address
of the user's database would be recorded in the DAS and the sensing devices
associated with that user would be linked to that address. Furthermore, by
having
all sensing devices pass through the DAS, it would be possible to have control
of
the sensing devices currently operating, and to use this information for
billing
services and account management. Moreover, when the number of the sensing
devices increases beyond the capacity of a certain DS, it would be possible to
use further DSs for data storage.

[0038] When the configuration settings are received at the sensing device
10, the latter uses the sample refresh time to determine the sampling
frequency
for the measurement data received from the sensors 12. A sampler module is
implemented in processor 16. The sampler records all active sensor values at
the
frequency selected by user and stores them in a FIFO with timestamp and with
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an alarm status. This way, the settings of the sensing device 10 may be
adjusted
remotely to suit different types of applications. More particularly, the user
may
remotely increase or decrease the time between two samples depending on the
need.

[0039] The measurement data received from the sensors is sampled
using the sampling frequency, and the samples (aka measurement data) are
stored in the memory 20 temporarily for transmission to the appropriate DS 28
with which the sensing device 10 is associated. The measurement data is sent
to
the DS 20 every time a sample is taken. In an embodiment, the samples are
accumulated in the internal memory 20 in the case where the connection with
the
DS 20 is lost, as will be described below. In an embodiment, the measurement
data is erased from the internal memory only after a confirmation of receipt
is
received from the DS 28.

[0040] The present embodiments make the measurement data stored in
the DS 28 available to the users 30 via the internet using a web server 32 or
any
similar means. At no time will the user connect to the sensing device 10
directly
to obtain the measurement data. Thereby, simplifying the microcontroller 16
and
microcontroller software by eliminating the need to have server features in
the
sensing device, such as router port forwarding, domain name configuration,
etc.
Accordingly, the sensing devices are only a client in a network perspective.
In
other words, the present embodiments have the advantage of avoiding the
provision of a web server in the sensing device and also preventing the
sensing
device from acting as a server itself.

[0041] Furthermore, this design eliminates the need to have a large
memory to store the measurement data in, thereby reducing the price and the
overall size of the sensing device 10, due to the reduction in circuit board
area.
Compared to the conventional systems, the reduction in memory size in the
sensing device 10 is quite substantial especially when the measurement data
needs to be stored for long periods of time.

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CA 02734301 2011-03-17
File No. P1693CA00

[0042] Consider the case where the measurement data of a measurement
site is needed for three months for a sampling frequency of one sample every
10
minutes. If the minimum memory capacity required in a conventional system is X
bytes, the minimum memory capacity required in a sensing device according the
present embodiments would be X/(3months*30days*24hours*6samples per
hour)= X/12960 times. Therefore, the reduction in memory size provided by the
sensing device 10 in this exemplary scenario is 12960 times. Of course, this
number increases with the period of storage and the sampling frequency.

[0043] Referring back to Figure 3, a monitoring service 34 may be
provided for monitoring the measurement data received at the DS 28. The
monitoring service 34 may send an alarm message to the users 30 if a
measurement exceeds a predefined threshold for a predefined period. For
example, if the temperature rises beyond a certain threshold, an alarm is sent
to
the user 30 to alert them of the situation. Also, if a certain time elapses
past the
last measurement received without receiving a new measurement, the monitoring
service 34 may also send an alarm to the user 30 indicating that the sensing
device sends no more data. This problem can be caused by a network failure or
an electric failure.

[0044] In an embodiment, when a loss of connection occurs between the
sensing device 10 and the DS 28, the sensing device 10 may store the
measurement data temporarily in the internal memory 20 for transmission to the
DS 28 when the connection is re-established. Based on the size of the internal
memory 20, the number and type of sensors 12, and the sampling frequency of
each sensor, the monitoring service 34 may determine the time limit during
which
the measurements can be taken and stored in the internal memory 20 before
reaching the storage limit. The monitoring service 34 may include this time
limit in
the alarm sent to the user so that the user can take the appropriate action
before
losing measurement data. The alarm message may be sent as an email, SMS, or
even through in an automated phone call or voice message.

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CA 02734301 2011-03-17
File No. P1693CA00

[0045] Figure 4 is a flowchart illustrating the automatic configuration steps
of the sensing device 10, in accordance with an embodiment. The configuration
starts at step 100 e.g. the device is powered on. At step 110, the sensing
device
decides if there is a transaction to do with the server. If yes, the process
proceeds to step 120 to connect to the DAS 26 server to obtain the address of
the DS 28. At step 130 the sensing device 10 connects to the DS 28. If, at
step
140, the sensing device 10 finds that there are samples to send, the system
proceeds to step 150 to send all the samples to the DS 28. If there are no
samples, the sensing device 10 checks whether there are new configurations to
synchronize, at step 160. If yes, the system downloads the configurations at
step
170. Otherwise, the process ends, and a new loop starts.

[0046] A communication module is implemented in the microcontroller 16.
The communication module manages the transactions with database. In
summary, these transactions include:

b) Configuration Synchronization (one way transfer: from the DS to the
sensing device)

The sensing device must synchronize its internal configuration
with the DS 28 because its configuration can change. Here are
main configuration parameters:

o Sample refresh time;
o Firmware revision;

o Alarm definitions;
o Sensor status; and
o Clock.

c) Sample Sending

- When there are stored samples in a buffer, the sensing device
sends them to the DS 28.
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CA 02734301 2011-03-17
File No. P1693CA00

d) Firmware Upgrade

- When there is a new firmware version, the sensing device
downloads it and installs it.

[0047] In an embodiment, the user may access the data stored in the DS
28 though the internet by requesting a specific webpage. A user profile may be
created to which, one or more sensing devices 10 may be associated. When
accessing the webpage, the user is faced with an authentication page as shown
in Figure 5. Figure 6a illustrates a sensing device information access page.
After
authentication, the user may select one or more sensing devices 10 and view
the
measurement data of each sensor in each sensing device 10. Figure 6b
illustrates a list of sensing devices associated with a user's profile

[0048] As shown in Figure 7a, the user may select to view the
measurement data of a certain period of time by selecting the start date and
end
date of that period. The user may select the type of presentation for the data
such as a numerical presentation as shown in Figure 7a, or a graphical
representation such as that shown in Figure 7b. Other types of presentations
may be also be used without departing from the scope of the disclosure.

[0049] The measurement data may also be processed, to' generate
warnings indicating that the data is following a certain trend and based on
that
trend, it is expected that a certain parameter will exceed the threshold
within a
certain period of time. For instance, if the temperature in the measurement
site is
rising one degree each month, the system may determine the number of months
left before that the temperature reaches the predefined threshold, and will
send a
warning to the user to alert them of the situation. Warnings are based on
predictions and they are not as urgent as alarms, because they provide the
user
with longer periods of time to investigate/fix the situation.

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[0050] Additionally, the user may customize the alarms by specifying the
upper and lower thresholds of the measurement data and the type of message in
which the alarm is to be sent, as shown in Figure 8.

[0051] Embodiments can be implemented as a computer program product
for use with a computer system. Such implementation may include a series of
computer instructions fixed either on a tangible medium, such as a computer
readable medium (e.g., a diskette, CD-ROM, ROM, or fixed disk) or
transmittable
to a computer system, via a modem or other interface device, such as a
communications adapter connected to a network over a medium. The medium
may be either a tangible medium (e.g., optical or electrical communications
lines)
or a medium implemented with wireless techniques (e.g., microwave, infrared or
other transmission techniques). The series of computer instructions embodies
all
or part of the functionality previously described herein. Those skilled in the
art
should appreciate that such computer instructions can be written in a number
of
programming languages for use with many computer architectures or operating
systems. Furthermore, such instructions may be stored in any memory device,
such as semiconductor, magnetic, optical or other memory devices, and may be
transmitted using any communications technology, such as optical, infrared,
microwave, or other transmission technologies. It is expected that such a
computer program product may be distributed as a removable medium with
accompanying printed or electronic documentation (e.g., shrink wrapped
software), preloaded with a computer system (e.g., on system ROM or fixed
disk), or distributed from a server over the network (e.g., the Internet or
World
Wide Web). Of course, some embodiments of the invention may be implemented
as a combination of both software (e.g., a computer program product) and
hardware. Still other embodiments of the invention may be implemented as
entirely hardware, or entirely software (e.g., a computer program product).

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[0052] While preferred embodiments have been described above and
illustrated in the accompanying drawings, it will be evident to those skilled
in the
art that modifications may be made without departing from this disclosure.
Such
modifications are considered as possible variants comprised in the scope of
the
disclosure.

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A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

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Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date Unavailable
(22) Filed 2011-03-17
(41) Open to Public Inspection 2012-09-17
Dead Application 2017-03-17

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Registration of Documents $100.00 2011-03-17
Filing $400.00 2011-03-17
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 2013-03-18 $100.00 2013-02-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 3 2014-03-17 $100.00 2014-03-03
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 4 2015-03-17 $100.00 2015-03-17
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 5 2016-03-17 $200.00 2016-01-20
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
SYSACOM
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
None
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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