The present invention relates to a controller for a home automation
and security system and in particular, to a controller for a home automation and
security system having a graphical interface.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Security systems are becoming widespread in use with most commercial
establishments and many residential establishments having security systems installed.
Such security systems generally include a control panel which controls the overall
operation of the system, one or more keypads for user access to the system and various
detectors and sensors. The control panel is generally mounted in an area of restricted
access, such as a utility room or basement, and contains the system electronics,
back-up power sources, and may include an interface for a remote monitoring. Security
systems are generally divided into several zones or areas of protection and each
of these zones generally has one or more detection devices or sensors such as motion
detectors, door or window contacts, glass break detectors, detectors or shock sensors
connected to it. In some security systems, smoke detectors or other fire detection
devices may also be connected to the control panel. Security systems generally have
one or more keypads which are used by the user to interface to the security system.
The key pad is used to send commands to the system to control the operation of the
system and may also display system information. Such key pads generally have a status
display which may include either individual indicators, such as light emitting diodes
or may include a LCD or LED display, which is capable of displaying a number of
alpha-numeric characters and can display simple messages regarding the status and
operation of the system. Such controllers may not be generally user friendly, as
while the controller may display the status of a zone as in a message such as "Zone
2 Open", the user of the system may not readily know where in the establishment
Zone 2 is located, and may have to recall from their memory the set-up and programming
of the security system. In an emergency or other panic situation, such information
may not be easily recalled.
Attempts to overcome this drawback have been developed, such as the
use of control panels which include a graphic of the layout of the establishment
with LED displays which display the status of the system in areas of the establishment.
However, such graphic controllers are generally part of the control panel which,
as noted above, is generally in a location which is not easily accessible.
There have also been attempts to develop computer controlled systems
where the interface with the security system is provided through a personal computer.
While such a set-up is useful for programming of the security system, it is not
generally usable for monitoring the status of the system in an emergency as it requires
that the computer be constantly on, and that the computer be located in a location
accessible to the user in the event of an emergency.
EP 559 270 describes such a computer based monitor and control system
for managing a set of geographically distributed premises. Monitoring and control
means are selectively located at the premises and bi-directionally interconnected
to the system for exchanging monitoring and control signals. The system includes
data processing means for defining a plurality of diverse functional environments
associated to a set up premises and a logic access system for selectively accessing
the functional environments. Each environment is associated to a particular subset
of the monitoring and control means and is intended to a particular category of
user. The access system has a user interface including a display means for displaying
a first array of first access fields, each associated with a respective environment.
Detection means for detecting access by a user to a particular access field are
provided along with verifying means fed by the detection means for executing a verification
to any access with respect to the user.
With the advances in computer technology, home automation, in terms
of controlling lighting, temperature and other environmental factors in a home or
office environment has become more widespread. There are many programs and interfaces
available for personal computers which enable control of environmental factors such
as lighting, heating, cooling, etc. in a home or office environment. However, once
again, such a system requires the use of a fairly powerful home computer which may
not be easily accessible at all times.
There thus remains a need for a simple to use controller for a home
security or home automation system which provides for ease of programming and operation
of the system and clearly understood status displays, especially in emergency situations.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to the present invention there is provided a controller
for controlling the functions of components of a security system, the controller
the controller interacting with a control panel to control operation of the security
- an input means for inputting data in response to prompts,
- a display means for displaying at least a number of alphanumeric characters,
characterised in that the controller is adapted for display of user selectable
information not related to the function of the security system provided to the control
panel by an external data access provider.
Typically the user selectable information will be one or more items
selected from the group consisting of weather information, news reports, sports
information, and financial information.
In addition the controller also provides for control of home automation
functions. Usually the display means may be a LCD or LED display capable of displaying
graphical data. Furthermore the display can be a touch sensitive screen to provide
the input means as well as the display means.
According to a further embodiment of the present invention there is
provided a security system comprising
all connected to the control panel wherein the control panel also has a means for
connecting to the external data access provider for providing the user selectable
information not related to the function of the security system.
- a plurality of detection devices and
- such a controller,
Preferably the user selectable information is one or more items selected
from the group consisting of weather information, news reports, sports information,
and financial information.
In addition the controller also provides for control of home automation
functions. Typically the display means may be a LCD or LED display capable of displaying
graphical data. Furthermore the display can be a touch sensitive screen to provide
the input means as well as the display means.
The present invention provides a controller for controlling the functions
of components of a security system. The controller comprises an input means for
inputting data in response to prompts, and a display means for displaying at least
a number of alphanumeric characters. The controller interacts with a control panel
to control operation of the security system. The controller also provides for display
of user selectable information not related to the function of the security system
provided to the control panel by an external data access provider.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Preferred embodiments of the present invention are illustrated in
the attached drawings, wherein:
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
- Figure 1 is a schematic view of a security system, utilizing the controller
of the present invention;
- Figure 2 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the controller of
the present invention..
A typical security system is illustrated in Figure 1. The security
system comprises a control panel 10 which controls the operation of the overall
security system. A number of detection devices 12 utilized for monitoring a zone
or area of protection are connected to the control panel in a typical manner. Detection
devices 12 may be any of the commonly utilized detection devices such as motion
detectors, door contacts, glass break detectors or shock sensors. While in Figure
1 the sensors 12 are shown as being hard wired to the control panel 10, wireless
technology is in common use and may also be utilized for communication between the
sensor 12 and the control panel 10. The security system may be connected to a remote
monitoring station 14, utilizing any of the commonly employed methods of communication
such as utilizing a telephone dialer sending messages to the remote monitoring station
14 using local telephone systems 16. In some situations, the connection between
the control panel 10 and the remote monitoring location 14 may also be wireless,
utilizing cellular telephone technology or other means of wireless communication.
The controller 20 of the present invention is also connected to the control panel
10 for allowing the user to interface with the security system, to program the system
and control the operation of the system and for displaying the status of the system
and its various components.
Figure 2 illustrates a perspective view of the controller 20 of Figure
1. As illustrated, controller 20 has a case 22 typically constructed of plastic
for containing the components of the controller 20. On the front of the case 22,
there is provided a window 24 in which a suitable graphic display 26 is located.
Preferably, the graphic display is a LED or LCD display having a display resolution
sufficient to permit readily discernible graphical and alpha-numeric information
to be displayed thereon. Such display is typically a LED or LCD display having a
resolution of at least about 100 pixels in both the vertical and horizontal direction.
Preferably, the display has a resolution of at least about 300 pixels horizontally
and at least about 200 pixels vertically to enable the display to provide readily
discernible graphical and alpha-numerical information. In the embodiment of the
controller 20 as illustrated in Figure 2, the controller may be provided with a
numeric key pad having numeric keys 28 typical of security system controllers. Controller
20 may also be provided with function keys or "hot" keys 30 for rapid access to
various features of the controller 20.
The screen 26 of the controller 20 is preferably a touch sensitive
screen whereby the operation of the security system may be controlled through touching
of the screen 26 in the appropriate position. As illustrated in the Figures, the
controller 20 may be set up to display a floor plan of the establishment at which
the security system is located. The display could be programmed to show the location
of the various sensors of the security system and their status. Should a user wish
further information on a sensor in a particular location, or should they wish to
program the functions of the security system with respect to the sensor, touching
the screen in the appropriate location could bring up a selection list to check
or program the operation of the sensors. Such selection list could be provided as
a graphical menu overlay visible over the floor plan, or alternatively could be
provided as a "hot" button list 32 displayed below the floor plan. Touching one
of the menu items or buttons 32 in the hot button list would activate a command
or provide further information on a sensor. Depending upon the function of the controller
selected on the touch screen, the options available on the hot button list 32 could
The controller 20 of the present invention may also be utilized in
conjunction with the control panel for controlling of home automation functions.
Such home automation functions may include turning on and off selected lights at
selected intervals, and other typical functions normally associated with home automation.
For example, with the controller illustrated in Figure 2, one of the function keys
30 or one of the buttons on the hot button list 32 may provide for access to home
automation functions. Once the home automation function protocol is activated, then
the selected home automation functions associated with a particular area of the
establishment may be controlled through the touch screen 26. Thus, for example,
a user could touch a selected area on the floor plan and then by selecting either
a menu item or a button from the hot button list could program the turning on or
turning off of the light in the selected area at selected times. Similarly, the
system could be utilized to influence the environmental conditions within the establishments
by setting temperature set points for varying the temperature within the establishment
at selected times. Thus, for example, in a home environment, the user could program
the system to maintain a relatively low temperature when no one is expected to be
home and to program the system to increase the temperature just prior to the time
when people are expected to arrive at the establishment.
In a preferred embodiment, the controller would also provide an interface
to the utility services to monitor energy usage in the environment in which the
controller is located. For example, in many locations, the meters utilized by utility
services such as the electrical power or hydro service, water and gas services are
provided with an interface to allow downloading of information to the utility service
for billing purposes. The controller of the present invention could utilize this
interface to provide the user with an indication of the user's usage of the energy
source provided by the utility service. If the controller were also provided with
the current rate schedule of each of the utility services, the controller could
also display the cost of the services utilized.
In a preferred embodiment, the controller 20 of the present invention
is also able to act as a information display for display of user selected information
such as, for example, current weather, news headlines, sports or stock markets quotes,
etc. In this system, the controller would be interfaced to a data access provider
40 through a modem link associated with the control panel 10. The data access provider
40 would preferably have a user profile for each individual location or establishment
at which controllers 20 are located. This user profile would be selectable and programmable
by the user such that they could select the specific types of information which
they wish to have displayed on the controller 20, as well as the times for display
of such information. For example, a user could program their user profile to have
the current weather conditions and weather forecast displayed on the controller
display from the time they normally rise in the morning until the time they would
normally leave the establishment to go to work.
The data access provider 40 would retrieve the desired information
from the required sources and repackage the information for transmission to the
controller of the user. Thus the data access provider may access news, sports, business
information, stock market quotes, weather, etc. information sources to provide the
information requested by the user in their profile. The relevant information may
be retrieved from commercial or other database providers 42 either by a direct link
access or the database providers may be accessed through the Internet using any
of the commonly employed methods or protocols. Some sources may be accessed through
the World Wide Web (WWW) using a suitably configured web browser. Other sources
may be accessed by Telnet, Gopher, FTP or email, depending upon the access method
necessary for retrieving the information from the database provider. When utilizing
protocols other than the HTTP protocol used on the WWW, the database provider may
be accessed by the enhanced capabilities of Web Browsers or by applications separate
from a Web Browser.
Once the information is retrieved, it is repackaged in a form suitable
for transmission to the controller 20. The repackaging required would depend upon
such factors as the format of the data, the amount of the data, whether the information
is to be abstracted or highlighted, and other factors which would be apparent to
those skilled in the art. Once the information is repackaged in the desired format,
it is transmitted to the controller 20 for display on the graphical display. Depending
upon the type and amount of information to be displayed as well as the user's desired
preferences, the information displayed on the graphical controller may first present
a menu of information which the user can select from to display further information
on a particular topic. For example, a menu list giving the types of information
such as news highlights, weather, sports scores, etc. may be initially displayed.
The user could then select one of the items from the list and either a further user
selectable sub-menu may be displayed or the information for the topic itself may
be displayed. The information could be displayed screen by screen, such that one
screen of information is displayed for sufficient time for the user to read the
information. The controller would, after the selected time, display the next screen
of information. -Alternatively, the controller may display the information in its
entirety by scrolling through all of the information in a topic. The scrolling rate
of the display would be such as to enable the user to read and comprehend the information
displayed. When the controller is configured to present the information by scrolling,
a hot button could also be provided to enable the user to pause the scrolling if
they wished to view the information for a longer time such as for example to make
written notes of the information. A scrolling display could also be used to present
all of the information continuously without the use of menu items. In these situations,
the controller could scroll through all of the information that has been downloaded
and once the end of the information has been reached, it could commence again at
As the primary purpose of the controller 20 is the control of a security
system, the controller 20 would be programmed to give priority to the monitoring
of the security system. The controller 20 could be constantly monitoring the conditions
of the sensors 12 on a regular time interval, even when the controller is displaying
the user selected information. If at any time the controller 20 detects the activation
of any of the sensors 12, then the controller 20 would immediately cease the display
of information and switch to the security system monitoring and control functions.
Alternatively, the security system may be configured to be interruptible on receiving
a suitable signal from one of the sensors or detectors 12. Upon receipt of the interrupt
or alarm condition signal from the sensor or detector 12, the controller 20 would
automatically switch to the security system monitoring and control functions.
The functions of the data access provider 40 may be provided as an
additional service provided by the security system monitoring service 14. In this
type of setup, the communications between the data access provider 40 and the controller
20 could use the same circuitry as the communication between the controller 20 and
the security system monitoring service 14. The security system monitoring service
could provide the information in the manner described above to the controller. In
addition, the security system monitoring service would also perform its usual functions
and could, while communicating with the controller 20 to provide the user selected
data, receive feedback on the status of the security system. If an alarm condition
is detected in the security system, the security system monitoring service 14 would
immediately cease the functions of the data access provider and switch to the functions
of the security system monitoring service.
The functions of the data access provider 40 and the security system
monitoring service 14 may also be provided by different entities. For example, the
dealer who installed the security system or the manufacturer of the controller could
provide the data access provider service as an additional service to the purchaser.
In many locations, the dealers or manufacturers do not themselves provide the security
system monitoring but use a central service to provide such functions to their customers.
In these situations, the dealer or manufacturer could provide the data access provider
services in the manner described above.
In setups in which the data access provider is separate from the monitoring
service, the communications between the controller and the data access provider
may be distinct from the communications between the controller and the security
system monitoring service, although some of the circuitry utilized for this communication
may also be used for the communication with the data access provider. For example,
security systems which communicate with a monitoring service typically do so over
the regular telephone system. These security systems are generally provided with
a modem as part of the control panel which is utilized for this communication. The
modem circuitry for the communication with the monitoring service could also be
utilized for the communication with the data access provider. In these situations,
the security system would be configured to drop any connection with the data access
provider when an alarm condition is detected to enable the immediate communication
with the monitoring service. Alternatively, the communication path for communicating
with the data access provider may be provided with its own modem separate and apart
from the modem for the monitoring service. Once again however if the security system
detects an alarm condition while communicating with the data access provider, the
controller would immediately drop the connection to enable the security system to
communicate with the monitoring service. This would be preferred, even if the two
modems were on separate telephone lines as it would be desirable that the controller
would be dedicated to its primary function of security system monitoring and control
functions in these situations.
Alarm systems according to the present invention which are capable
of displaying information as described above may also be adapted to provide for
other levels of notification of information which may be of importance to the user.
In some circumstances, the data access provider may have the capability of interfacing
with the alarm system to provide alerts to the user when particularly important
information is being transmitted to the alarm system. This is of particular use
where the data access provider is capable of initiating communication with the alarm
system. In such a setup, as soon as the data access provider is made aware of information
which would be of particular interest to the user, the data access provider may
initiate a transmission and transmit the information to the alarm system. In addition
to transmitting the information, the data access provider may also have the capability
of interfacing with the alarm system to, for example, annunciate the arrival of
It is also possible to provide for a dedicated connection to the data
service provider. Currently, the technology exists for cable modem access, ADSL
access or access through a signal on top of the electrical utility service amongst
other technologies. All of these technologies provide for dedicated, continuous
access to a data service provider. If such dedicated, continuous service is provided,
then a higher degree of integration between the data access provider and the security
system of the present invention is possible.
In circumstances where there is a dedicated connection or where the
data access provider is able to initiate communication, some of the information
communicated may be used to control functions of the alarm system. For example,
if a weather advisory is issued for an area in which the security system is located,
the data access provider could transmit the weather advisory and alert the user
to the existance of the weather advisory. Depending upon the severity of the advisory,
the data access provider could instruct the security system to either display the
advisory or using the sounding capabilities of the security system to annunciate
an alert. If the weather advisory is not severe, the data access provider could
instruct the alarm system to sound a keypad buzzer or provide other sounding depending
upon the capabilities of the keypad controller. If the weather advisory were severe
such as a storm warning or tornado or hurricane watch, the data access provider
could instruct the alarm system to sound the alarm annunciator. In addition to weather
advisory, the system could also be configured to provide a warning of other events
which may be of concern to the user. For example, users which have school age children
on the premises, may have the data access provider monitor school closing and when
a school closing is announced, could instruct the alarm system to notifier the user
of the school closing. Other uses of such a feature of the alarm system of the present
invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
Although various preferred embodiments of the present invention have
been described herein in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the
art, that variations may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the