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[ EN ]


The present invention relates to a method for detecting the actuation of commands given to electric and electronic devices.

More specifically, the invention relates to a method for detecting a response showing that a command previously sent to an electric/electronic device has been effectively executed (implemented).

The invention generally refers to the field of electric/electronic control devices for home automation systems.

The current state of technology has made it possible to improve various aspects relating to homes and environments in general, such as the quality of life of persons, the organization, the management costs and the safety of the ambient, thus also simplifying maintenance and management of said ambient.

Typical examples are "intelligent" or“smart” electrical systems that allow not only to control when and how to use home devices, such as household appliances, windows, lighting systems, etc., but also to monitor their parameters, such as energy consumption, through electronic circuits already widely used in existing solutions.

However, said systems are programmed to receive a command, for example to turn on a light bulb or to open or close windows or doors, or to monitor a consumption, but they are unable to provide a response signal that guarantees a real implementation of the command that has been sent. For this purpose, according to the present invention, a suitable parameter of the home device to control is chosen and said parameter is monitored over time in order to produce a feedback signal; preferably, the parameter is the circulating current intensity or the instantaneous power.

In fact, when the command is not executed or is partially or incorrectly performed by the device, the trend of the actuation signal measured over time has anomalies that can be found.

Instead, when the command is correctly performed, the trend of the actuation signal measured over time is known and corresponds to the

expected trend.

In this way, it is possible to detect any malfunctions or problems simply by comparing the graph of the measured actuation signal with the graph of the expected actuation signal.

Remote control appliances of known“smart” devices have a miniaturized electronic component, equipped with a specific execution program and/or algorithm (firmware), which manages wireless communication and which allows a central unit to drive several connected devices, through a communication protocol.

By using a suitable firmware, according to the present invention, it is possible to make the device learning, for example, a specific trend of the electrical current flowing on a load (actuator); otherwise, the actuator is originally configured by the manufacturer through a graph showing the electronic behavior of said actuator (so that it is possible to compare said graph with the real graph of the electrical current flowing on the load for having a real indication of a good or bad execution of the command); in any case, the electronic behavior of the actuator is signaled to the user.

An object of the present invention is therefore to ascertain, through an algorithm implemented in the firmware of a“smart” device, that a command sent by a user to one or more devices of a home automation system has been effectively executed.

A further purpose of the invention is to assess any anomalies preventing the implementation of the command or any anomalies of the device connected to the home automation system (faults, failure and/or breakage situations). Another object of the invention is to provide a method for detecting the real execution of commands sent to electric/electronic devices by using the known electric and/or electronic circuits which are used, up to now, only for monitoring the electrical consumption and/or absorption; said method is thus easy to implement in known home automation systems, which can also be enhanced with a new function.

Finally, the object of the invention is to provide a system for detecting the real execution of commands sent to electric/electronic devices and for detecting any operating anomalies; the system is easy, fast and practical to use either for the supplier of the maintenance service and for the manufacturer of the device, as well as for the end user.

The above mentioned purposes and other objectives are achieved by a method for detecting the actuation of commands given to electric and electronic devices, according to the enclosed claim 1 ; further technical details are claimed in the dependent claims.

The present invention will now be described, for illustrative but not limitative purposes, according to a preferred embodiment thereof.

According to the invention, the method for detecting the actuation of commands given to electric and electronic devices is advantageously based on the reading of a suitable parameter, preferably the electrical current absorbed by an electric/electronic device during its working, so as to detect if the command given to the device has been effectively executed.

Practically, a circuit for measuring the current consumption is used; said circuit allows to learn the current absorption of the device over time, so as to assess whether the command has been effectively executed by said device in a correct and complete way.

Specifically, a detection function is used starting from the signal constituted by the electric current absorbed at the“smart” power sockets (said sockets are also able to monitor electrical consumptions).

The devices currently known are programmed, also in synergy with the home automation systems to which they belong, to monitor current consumption (with the aim of monitoring and reducing consumption), but not to provide a response signal able to guarantee the actual implementation of a command that has been sent.

The technical solution, which is the object of the present invention, includes the same circuits and/or devices used to monitor energy consumption to learn the power absorption dynamics of the device; in this way the system of the invention, through a specific algorithm present in the device’s firmware, is able to assess whether the command has been correctly converted into a physical actuation carried out by means of said driven electric/electronic device (said device, which belongs to a home automation system, allows not only to turn on light lamps, but also to close doors,

windows, shutters, gates, etc., and for this reason it is necessary to be sure that the command sent by the system has been converted into a complete physical action made by the electric/electronic device).

As an example, regarding the domestic use of a common light bulb, according to the invention, the action of switching on and off said light bulb is confirmed by reading the typical current signal that is previously set up for said light bulb, while the known systems only detect the change of state from“off” to“on” and vice-versa (by means of an electronic control unit) and they are not able to confirm that said light bulb is actually“on” or“off” (for example, if the light bulb is faulty, the control unit of said known systems will however show an“on” state when the light bulb has been driven to switching on).

The method according to the invention, after having learned the power consumption of a load (which constitutes the actuation device) under standard use’s conditions, performs a graph showing the standard trend of the power consumptions of said load during a time period and said graph is advantageously compared with the trend of the power consumption measured directly on the load when a command has been sent to said device.

If, for example, a light bulb breaks down and stops its functioning, the system according to the invention is able to detect differences in power consumption of the bulb with respect to the standard trend, i.e. the failure to exceed the minimum threshold of the expected average power consumption, and therefore said system is able to generate an alarm signal. Another typical example is constituted by an automatic system for opening and closing window shutters, which has a current flow trend with an initial peak or starting point, an average consumption current and a final peak, corresponding to the reaching of the closure limit during a constant mean time.

The trend of the current flow can be used to find any anomalies when the command is actuated, while the final peak is used as a feedback data for the closure limit, so as to inform the user that the command has been successful and a correct mechanical implementation of the control has been

performed; if, for any reason, said performing does not occur, such as for example due to a failure of a component of the apparatus or for the presence of an object between the shutter and the limit switch, the trend of the current flow will have a shorter duration and will have a modulation trend of a different type with respect to the expected trend which has been learned by the system.

Again, the system is also able to detect the difference and is able to signal the anomaly to the user, through the communication device which is already present in the known home automation systems.

In particular, the variation of the current flow in case of a normal and regular operation is compared with the current flow that occurs in anomalous conditions and since said variation is different from the variation that is automatically self-learned, the system sends an alarm signal.

Practically, it is a question of modifying the use of reading the absorbed current, now used only for the calculation of power consumption, by using a specific algorithm and/or firmware capable of monitoring the current absorption; the circulating current is evaluated by the effect of the applied load, so as to produce a feedback signal related to the physical phenomenon that was intended to control (switching on of a light bulb, closing of a door, closing of a valve, etc.). It should be noted that the electronic controls of home automation systems are often sent to remote devices and sites (from the workplace to home, from the main house to the holiday home, etc.) and these situations do not allow a direct check of a real actuation of the command.

Furthermore, the system is able to define a normal standard trend of the current and to compare it with the current trend measured during the subsequent commands; if there are any differences that exceed average expected current absorption thresholds, the system sends an alarm signal about possible critical issues and developing anomalies (predictive diagnosis); said alarm signal can also be used by the manufacturer and supplier of the maintenance service (which is able to allow an intervention before more serious or disabling faults occur), while, if the current trend complies with a standard trend, the system is able to guarantee and certify that the command sent has been correctly implemented and that the apparatus operates regularly within a given quality standard.

From the previous description, the characteristics of the method for detecting the actuation of commands given to electric/electronic devices are clear, as well as the related advantages.

Finally, the invention has been described for illustrative but not limitative purposes, according to preferred embodiments, but it is to be understood that variations and/or modifications may be made by those skilled in the art, without thereby departing from the relative scope of protection of the attached claims.