No assignee for this patent application has been made.
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Modern communications technology, particularly mobile communications devices, offer great potential for improving the safety and sense of safety among individuals and groups such as friends, family and work colleagues. Apart from the ability to make telephone calls and send text messages or emails, there exist a number of applications for smart phone and similar devices that we might broadly call personal safety applications. These seek to automate calling and communication functions, so that help can be sough in an emergency. For example, a young person may find themselves in a situation they feel threatened by their surroundings and need help. This is not necessarily a scenario where they feel that they need the help of the police or indeed where a crime has been committed, but they still want to get out of that situation as soon as possible. They may or may not want assistance from their parents, either. Using location functions such as triangulation and GPS
"It is an aim of the invention to provide the service for users of smart phones and other devices to set up and operate an informal, 'social' network of trusted individuals to serve as 'guardians' for one another, and to call on them in time of need. While various known personal safety applications have attempted this, they all fail in some respect to meet the needs of users, and to promote adequate take up among a 'critical mass' of friends, family and colleagues. Known systems which require logging on to a website to find a person's location are not necessarily practical, particularly if one has logged on at a fixed terminal. Applications that reveal a person's location without asking are regarded as an invasion of privacy, and friends will be reluctant to join."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Various embodiments of the present invention are provided to address one or more of the drawbacks of the aforementioned prior art.
"According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a personal safety communications system comprising a plurality of user terminals belonging to a plurality of individual users and being interconnected via one or more networks, the system including the user terminals including an alert management apparatus, the alert management apparatus comprising: a relationship database storing a set of dependant-guardian relationships among users of said user terminals such that one or more users can be designated as guardians of another user, including the possibility for users to be guardians of one another; an alert initiation interface by which a first user having one or more designated guardians can use their user terminal to initiate an alert situation and to indicate their location; a guardian response interface responsive to initiation of said alert situation for providing to users who are guardians of the user via their user terminals, notification of the alert including an indication of the location of the first user and for receiving from the guardian an indication whether they will attend or not attend to assist the first user and in the event that they will attend for receiving from the guardian's user terminal an indication of the guardian's location; and a situation monitoring interface for informing the first user of the identity and location of one or more guardians who have indicated they will attend.
"In some embodiments, said alert management apparatus is formed by said user terminals operating in conjunction with one or more server devices connected to the network, the server device(s) being operable for the exchange of data messages with each user terminal. Said relationship database may be maintained by the server, wherein the user terminal of the first user is arranged to send an alert initiation message to said server, and the server is arranged to send a guardian response invitation to guardians who are identified in the relationship database as guardians of the first user. The exchange of data messages communication between said user terminals and server may be independent of email and SMS applications to which said user terminals and/or the server may also have access.
"In some embodiments said situation monitoring interface includes a map display showing the relative locations of the dependant and one or more attending guardians. The situation monitoring interface may be arranged to update said map display automatically as the locations of the users change over time.
"The situation monitoring interface may additionally include a message entry and display function by which users can submit messages for one another to read without switching to another application. Said message display may be viewable simultaneously with said map display and display a combination of messages associated with the alert situation, the messages including messages containing content generated explicitly by other users and messages generated automatically by the alert management apparatus in response to events in the operation of the alert management apparatus and the various interfaces thereof.
"The alert management apparatus may include provides participating users with an alert terminating interface and imposes an alert terminating protocol, and by means of which an alert can be terminated only in the event that alert termination messages are received from a predetermined combination of user terminals, not from the dependant's terminal alone.
"Functions of said alert management apparatus to be performed by said user terminals may be implemented by installing a personal safety application on a multi-purpose user terminal device, the user terminal device comprising a programmable mobile communication device having an operating system, user interface functions, communication functions and optionally geolocation functions.
"The system may further comprise a relationship management interface by which a user can invite one or more other users to become their guardian and/or dependant, the relationship management system updating said database with a new relationship in response to a recipient accepting such an invitation. In one implementation, said alert management apparatus is implemented in part by a personal safety application installed on a user terminal device, and for inviting a user to become guardian or dependant who has not yet installed said personal safety application, the relationship management interface is arranged to issue an invitation to download and install the application using an email or SMS applications to which said user terminal device has access.
"In some embodiments, one or more other users are designated rangers, the alert management apparatus including a facility to invite such a ranger as a guardian in response to an alert from the first user with a location corresponding to a ranger's geographic area.
"The relationship database may be configured so that for at least a subset of users, more than one set of guardians can be designated, and said alert initiation interface may be arranged to identify directly or indirectly which set of guardians should be invited in response to a current alert initiation message.
"According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a user terminal configured to implement the user terminal functions of the alert management system in a personal safety communication system as described above.
"According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a computer program product for configuring a programmable user terminal device to implement the user terminal functions of the alert management apparatus in a personal safety communication system as described above.
"According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a server device configured to perform server functions of the alert management apparatus in a personal safety communication system as described above.
"According to a fifth aspect of the invention, there is provided a computer program product for configuring a programmable computer server to implement server functions the alert management apparatus in a personal safety communication system as described above.
"The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will be understood by the skilled reader from a consideration of the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying schematic drawings in which corresponding reference symbols indicate corresponding parts.
"FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a personal safety communication system according to an embodiment of the present invention.
"FIG. 2 shows a registration screen of an access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 3 shows a 'Home' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 4 shows a 'Network' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 5 shows a 'My Details' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 6 shows an 'Invites' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 7 shows a 'Contacts' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 8 shows a 'Contact' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 9 shows a 'Panic' screen of the access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 10a is a first view of a 'Monitoring' screen of the access terminal of a user acting as a 'guardian' in the system of FIG. 1, in.
"FIG. 10b is an exemplary map displayed on the map section of the 'Monitoring' screen of the access terminal of a user acting as a 'dependant' in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 10c is a further exemplary map displayed on the map section of the 'Monitoring' screen of the access terminal of the dependant.
"FIG. 11a is another view of the 'Monitoring' screen of the access terminal of the guardian in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 11b is another view of the 'Monitoring' screen of the access terminal of the dependant in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 12 is a 'Panic List' screen of the access terminal of the guardian.
"FIG. 13 is an exemplary enlarged view of navigation tabs present in all screens of the application.
"FIG. 14 is a block schematic diagram of the server 104 in the communication system of FIGS. 1 to 13b.
"FIG. 15 is a schematic block diagram of an access terminal in the system of FIG. 1.
"FIG. 16 is an exemplary call-flow diagram showing the sequence of communications associated with handling a panic alert in the system of FIGS. 1 to 15.
"FIG. 17 is an exemplary call-flow diagram showing the sequence of communications associated with handling a panic alert in the system of FIGS. 1 to 15 having a user designated as 'ranger'.
"FIG. 18 is an exemplary call-flow diagram showing the sequence of communications associated with handling a request message in the system of FIGS. 1 to 15 having an optional 'Find my Child' module according to an embodiment of the present invention.
"FIG. 19 shows a modified 'Home' screen showing optional features integrated in the system of FIGS. 1-15."
For more information, see this patent application: Granger,
Keywords for this news article include: Patents.
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