(19)
(11)EP 3 163 806 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
03.05.2017 Bulletin 2017/18

(21)Application number: 16196940.7

(22)Date of filing:  02.11.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04L 12/28  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
MA MD

(30)Priority: 02.11.2015 PT 15108926

(71)Applicant: EDP Comercial - Comercializacao de Energia, S.A.
1250-162 Lisbon (PT)

(72)Inventors:
  • Neves Geirinhas Rocha, Pedro Manuel
    2795-038 Linda-a-Velha (PT)
  • Coelho de Moura Antunes, Tiago Miguel Baltazar
    1990-366 Lisbon (PT)
  • da Silva Coutinho, António José
    1249-300 Lisbon (PT)
  • Pereira Reis, João Filipe
    3800-011 Aveiro (PT)
  • dos Santos Abreu, Victor
    3810-167 Vilar (PT)
  • Magalhães Adão, Pedro
    2780-134 Oeiras (PT)

(74)Representative: Ferreira, Maria Silvina 
Clarke, Modet & Co. Rua Castilho, 50-9°
1269-163 Lisboa
1269-163 Lisboa (PT)

  


(54)ELECTRICAL CONNECTION SOCKET


(57) The present application describes a socket for connection to the electrical distribution network, and its operation mode, remotely controllable by the user, which directly connects to a conventional socket being either embedded in a wall or otherwise, and emitting infrared signals to control electrical equipment within the reach of such emission.
The proposed device enables the consumption measurement and, through power down, the control of equipment that is directly connected to the female connection interface (5), as well as the remote control of other equipment that may be controlled by infrared signals and is in the vicinity thereof, via the infrared emitter (4). The proposed device includes also a control button (1), and enables the connection to external systems through the wireless communication module (2).




Description

Technical domain



[0001] The present application describes an electrical connection socket, emitter of infrared command signals, and its operation mode.

Background



[0002] Until recently, the control of air-conditioned systems and multimedia systems in the residential sector was carried out by one out of two processes: infrared remote control or local control. Each one of these ways of control present some limitations, namely due to the fact that they require the user to be on site or in its vicinity. In other words, they don't allow, for example, an appliance that has been left on unintentionally to be turned off remotely nor, for example, to switch on the air conditioner before the user gets home. Moreover, the interaction interfaces of such equipment are very limited. For example, most of the air-conditioned users do not use timetables, bringing comfort and efficiency losses, even though these functions are available on the control units.

[0003] Recently, some new appliances for the domestic sector started to include Wi-Fi or other communication means, which may be connected directly or via other devices to the client's local network, and which enable remote control via internet, having improved interfaces, solving the referred problems. However, most of the air-conditioned and multimedia systems installed don't have this function integrated in an efficient way in the already existing equipment.

[0004] Known from the state of the art are various types of emitting modules that send infrared signals to control air-conditioned equipment, multimedia systems or other equipment, allowing equipment control and actuation from distant locations, which was formerly not possible.

[0005] Nevertheless, some appliances can't be adequately controlled by powering them down. Actually, if the electrical power supply of an air-conditioned system is, for example, interrupted and later again re-established, in case of older models the appliance is not going to work according to the parameters programmed prior to the power interruption. This means that it is not possible to adequately control it by simply powering it down. This is also the case of a television or a digital television decoder. If power supply is interrupted then the mentioned device is switched off, but after being again powered on it won't operate in the same mode as before the power interruption, being normally needed to switch on again the television on the remote control after electric power supply having been re-established. In the same way, if a music apparatus is playing a CD and the power supply is interrupted for some time, the CD will not continue playing. Moreover, some equipment, including the air conditioner, should not be controlled by power down also for lifetime reasons. Some manufacturers recommend not to frequently cut-off the power supply because it may reduce the lifetime of the electronic control boards.

[0006] The already known emitters from the state of the art present several disadvantages. One of them relies on the fact that the installation of an equipment for such purpose, which requires communication means, power supply, infrared commands emission, control logic, etc, eventually represents a significant cost of the desired function. Furthermore, some of these emitters are battery-powered which means that it is necessary to change or charge the batteries periodically. Moreover, operating on batteries reduces the amount of energy the emitter may consume. As an alternative, some emitters are powered via a connection to an electrical socket, either in a direct way or via an electrical cable and plug, or have an external power source, for example a transformer, connected to the socket that connects to the emitter by means of an electrical cable. In any one of these options there is an electrical socket that is going to be used for this purpose, which was formerly available to connect other equipment. Moreover, the second and third options have little aesthetic appeal.

Summary



[0007] The present application describes an electrical connection socket comprising:
  • A control unit, having data processing capacity, comprising a wireless communication module, control electronics, memory storage space and internal clock;
  • An infrared commands emitter;
  • A female connection interface, to which an equipment to be controlled may be connected;
  • At least one control button;
Wherein said electrical connection socket is connected to an electrical socket by means of a male-type plug.

[0008] In one embodiment, the wireless communication module is adapted to establish data connection with external systems.

[0009] In one embodiment, the wireless communication module is configured to operate according to the standards defining the Wi-Fi, ZigBee or BTLE - Bluetooth low energy technologies.

[0010] In one embodiment, the electrical connection socket comprises a status indicator.

[0011] In one embodiment, the status indicator uses LED or OLED technology.

[0012] In one embodiment, the electrical connection socket comprises an electric consumption measurement module that is integrated in the female connection interface.

[0013] Disclosed is also an operation method of the electrical connection socket, wherein the operation control of an electrical equipment that is physically connected thereof by means of the female connection interface is processed, or that is in the vicinity, and controllable by infrared signals, said method comprising the steps:
  • An external server, accessed via a configuration portal hosted on a web page, sends to the electrical connection socket control unit the instructions programmed by the user and the command interpreter (driver) associated to the equipment to be controlled, being it either directly connected to the female connection interface of the electrical connection socket or remotely and within the reach of the infrared emitter incorporated in the proposed socket;
  • The information is received by the wireless communication module of the electrical connection socket, the data interpreter associated to the equipment to be controlled being stored in memory;
  • Via the data interpreter, the control unit processes the user instruction transforming it into a message coded in the machine language understandable by the specific model of the equipment to be controlled;
  • Infrared command emission, from the emitter incorporated in the electrical connection socket proposed.

General Description



[0014] In order to overcome the problems of the state of the art that have been identified, the present application describes an electrical connection socket able to send infrared control signals. This signal enables the control of a given equipment that is in the same room, transmitting the signal in line of sight or being reachable through reflections on the walls/other surfaces. The emitted signal will be stronger than that of the usual commands, since there is no autonomy restriction from batteries.

[0015] With this approach, the infrared control enables the access to a plurality of functions not accessible on power down. For example, when controlling an air-conditioned appliance, the operating mode may be defined, for example, cooling/heating/dehumidification, the desired temperature for the room, the ventilation speed, among others. This is the motivation and the added value of infrared control against an on/off control carried out by a controlled electrical connection socket.

[0016] The device herein presented, in its practical application scenario, is connected to a conventional socket, embedded in a wall or otherwise, by means of a male plug, and comprises:
  • A control unit, having data processing capacity and comprising a wireless communication module, control electronics, memory storage space and internal clock;
  • An infrared commands emitter;
  • A female connection interface, to which an equipment that would normally be directly connected to a conventional socket may be connected;
  • At least a control button for user's manual command;
  • An internal relay or other electrical process of power interruption, allowing to switch on/off the power supplied to the female connection interface, acting as a normal switch on a wall socket having a switching on/off function;
  • Optionally, at least one status indicator, which may be a LED, OLED, or another lighting technology having low energy consumption;
Optionally, the electrical connection socket may further comprise an electric consumption measurement module which is integrated in the female connection interface.

[0017] The main functions of the proposed electrical connection socket include measuring the consumption of the equipment connected to the female connection interface, controlling the operating on/off cycles of said equipment either remotely or locally, receiving the commands or connecting to external systems via the wireless communication module, receiving manual commands via the manual command button, and finally emitting infrared commands to any equipment that may be controlled by such means, for example multimedia or air-conditioned equipment. As examples of external systems one can mention a server, hosted on internet, accessed via a web address or a mobile application in order to provide an interface to the user. As another example of connection to external systems, the electrical connection socket may be connected to other local home automation equipment. Communications may be of various types depending on the implementation adopted, for example Wi-Fi, ZigBee, BTLE, among others.

[0018] As a practical implementation scenario, the electrical equipment is connected to an electrical connection socket. Such socket has on its surface a zone made of polymer or composite material permeable to infrared signals which protects a lower zone where a set of infrared LEDs that emit the signal is disposed. These signals may be of high intensity since there is no energy restriction in the emission thereof.

[0019] The control signals to be emitted are kept stored in the memory of the electrical connection socket control unit, being it possible to updated them from the exterior via the wireless communication module. In practical terms, the user controls an equipment that may be either connected to the electrical connection socket or not, by interacting on the configuration portal, hosted in a server on internet, and that may be accessed for example via a mobile application executed on the user's smartphone. Thereby it is established that that one specific socket is controlling, for example, an air-conditioning appliance of a certain brand and model. The portal then provides a command interpreter (driver) which transforms an instruction given by the user into an infrared signal to be transmitted, that is in accordance to the requirements of said appliance to be controlled. For example, via the mobile application running in his/her smartphone, the user programs the instruction "Air conditioner of the living room set to cooling, at 22°C and maximum ventilation". This command is sent via the server to the electrical connection socket, which is meanwhile provided with the specific driver for the appliance to be controlled, transforming that instruction into a set of instructions coded in a language understandable by that air conditioner model and the command is sent via the infrared emitter incorporated in the electrical connection socket.

[0020] The advantages of this equipment are:
  • Being powered directly from the network power supply, and thereby able to use infrared signals emitting power that is much higher than what would be practical using batteries, enabling to profit from reflection on the walls and other surfaces in a more efficient way;
  • Because it is connected directly to a conventional socket, the solution is aesthetically well succeeded, not having any cables or power sources visible;
  • It performs the functions of an intelligent socket, namely consumption measurement and control of any equipment that will be connected thereto;
  • It doesn't block any conventional socket since the device itself provides a female connection interface;
  • It may command any equipment able to be infrared controlled, via the emission of the respective signals, once coded, as long as such equipment is within the reach of direct or reflected emission of the infrared signals emitted by this device;
  • Because it has several functions combined in one single equipment, the cost of the common components (electrical supply, box, communications module, control logic) is spread over the functions of intelligent socket and infrared control, rendering the ratio "value to the user / cost" more attractive.

Brief description of the figures



[0021] For an easier understanding of the art, figures are appended, which depict preferred embodiments that, however, are not meant to limit the object of the present application.

[0022] Figure 1 describes a perspective view of an embodiment of the electrical connection socket, wherein the reference numbers refer to the following elements:

1 - status indicator;

2 - wireless communications module;

3 - male plug to connect to the conventional electrical socket;

4 - infrared commands emitter;

5 - female connection interface.


Description of embodiments



[0023] Hereinafter, some embodiments will be described in a more detailed way which are not intended, however, to limit the scope of the present application.

[0024] The present disclosure describes an electrical connection socket which, in a practical application scenario, is connected to a conventional socket, embedded in a wall or otherwise, by means of a male plug (3), and comprising the following components:
  • A control unit, having data processing capacity, and comprising a wireless communication module (2), control electronics, memory storage space and internal clock;
  • An infrared commands emitter (4);
  • A female connection interface (5), to which the equipment that would normally be directly connected to a conventional socket is connected;
  • At least one control button of the relay type allowing to switch on/off the power supplied to the female connection interface (5), acting as a normal switch on a wall socket having a switching on/off function;
  • Optionally, at least one status indicator (1), which may be a LED, OLED, or another lighting technology having low energy consumption;


[0025] Optionally, the electrical connection socket may further comprise an electric consumption measurement module which is integrated in the female connection interface (5).

[0026] In one embodiment of the electrical connection socket, the wireless communication module is adapted to establish communications according to ZigBee standard, by which it connects to a house automation system, wherein the exterior body of such socket comprises a plastic part permeable to infrared signals through which signals to control air-conditioned appliances, multimedia systems or other systems are emitted.

[0027] Another embodiment of this technology is similar to the previous one but here the equipment is directly connected to the domestic Wi-Fi network and from there to the internet.

[0028] The present technology is not, naturally, in any way restricted to the embodiments described herein and a person with knowledge in the area will foresee many possibilities for modification of the technology without departing from the main idea, as per defined in the claims.

[0029] All the embodiments above described are obviously combinable amongst them. The following claims further define preferred embodiments.


Claims

1. Electrical connection socket characterized in that it comprises:

- A control unit, having data processing capacity, comprising a wireless communication module, control electronics, memory storage space and internal clock;

- An infrared commands emitter;

- A female connection interface;

- At least one control button,

Wherein said electrical connection socket is connected to an electrical socket by means of a male-type plug.
 
2. Electrical connection socket according to claim 1, characterized in that the wireless communication module is configured to establish data connection with external systems.
 
3. Electrical connection socket according to claim 2, characterized in that the wireless communication module is configured to operate according to the standards defining the Wi-Fi, ZigBee or BTLE - Bluetooth low energy technologies.
 
4. Electrical connection socket according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises a status indicator.
 
5. Electrical connection socket according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the status indicator (1) uses LED or OLED technology.
 
6. Electrical connection socket according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises an electric consumption measurement module integrated in the female connection interface.
 
7. Operation method of the electrical connection socket claimed on claims 1 to 6, characterized in that:

- External server, accessed via a configuration portal hosted on a web page, sends to the electrical connection socket control unit the instructions programmed by the user and the command interpreter (driver) associated to the electrical equipment to be controlled, being it either directly connected to the female connection interface of the electrical connection socket or remotely and within the reach of the infrared emitter;

- The information is received by the wireless communication module of the electrical connection socket, the data interpreter associated to the equipment to be controlled being stored in memory;

- Via the data interpreter, the control unit processes the user instruction transforming it into a message coded in the machine language understandable by the specific model of the equipment to be controlled;

- Emission of the infrared command.


 




Drawing