News Column

Patent Application Titled "Control Unit and Method for Lighting Control" Published Online

July 3, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Pandharipande, Ashish Vijay (Eindhoven, NL); Caicedo Fernandez, David Ricardo (Eindhoven, NL), filed on July 19, 2012, was made available online on June 19, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Koninklijke Philips N.v.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The use of artificial lighting to achieve practical or aesthetic effects is continuously increasing. Both for indoor and outdoor settings, there are numerous examples of lighting systems including e.g. light bulbs, LEDs, and spot lights for offices, restaurants, museums, advertising boards, homes, shops, shop windows, and so on.

"A suitable/convenient lighting, whether in an indoor or outdoor setting, is highly beneficial for a person present in that environment, as the lighting may e.g. contribute to his/her comfort, productivity, well-being, etc. Manual control of the light source may improve the lighting, e.g. in that a person may control the lighting in a room according to his/her preference. For example, the person may switch on the light upon arrival and switch off the light when leaving the room. However, manual control of the lighting may at the same time be undesired, inefficient and/or tedious. As an example, for the lighting e.g. in stores, it is advantageous that a lighting control unit is able to turn off or turn on light sources without the operation of the client. As another example, the avoidance of manual control of the lighting may especially be advantageous in some cases such as when there is a plurality of light sources, and the light sources are placed at different locations in a room. A manual operation to switch on or off each one of the plurality of lamps may in this case be inconvenient.

"In the light of the above observations, there is an increasing need for automatic lighting systems which can provide a suitable lighting for the user.

"In patent document WO-2005/069698, a lighting control related to the detection of occupants is disclosed. Light which is emitted in each local area is uniquely modulated to identify the respective area. The modulated light is detected by wearable occupancy detectors in the local areas, which in turn transmit detector-locator signals to lighting control units, thereby identifying which local areas are occupied. These signals may also uniquely identify the respective detectors, thereby enabling a lighting system controller to determine the number and identities of the detectors in each local area.

"However, alternative and/or complementary solutions for lighting may be of interest, such that a more suitable lighting is provided."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "It is an object of the present invention to mitigate the above problems and to provide a device and a method that provides an improved lighting.

"This and other objects are achieved by providing a control unit and a method having the features defined in the independent claims. Preferred embodiments are defined in the dependent claims.

"Hence, according to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a control unit for controlling luminance in a space. The control unit is configured to estimate a three-dimensional location of a target as a function of time. Furthermore, the control unit is configured to control the luminance in the space based on the estimated three-dimensional location of the target.

"According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for controlling luminance in a space. The method comprises the step of estimating a three-dimensional location of a target as a function of time. Furthermore, the method comprises the step of controlling the luminance in the space based on the three-dimensional location of the target.

"Thus, the present invention is based on the idea of providing a control unit for estimating a three-dimensional (3D) location of target(s), and to control the luminance based on this estimated 3D location of the target(s). In other words, the luminance may be controlled dependent on the estimated 3D location of the target(s).

"An advantage of the present invention is that the control unit provides a lighting which is more suitable/convenient for a target compared to the lighting obtained by other prior art systems. As the control unit of the present invention is able to estimate a 3D location of a target, the lighting function of a light source may be adapted dependent on the estimated 3D location of the target such that a more suitable/convenient lighting is provided in the space.

"It will be appreciated that the inventors have realized that a control unit and a method may be provided to control luminance in a space with respect to a 3D location of a target as a function of time. The present invention is advantageous in that it conveniently provides a control/adaptation of the lighting dependent on the estimated 3D location of the target(s). In contrast, prior art systems, based on e.g. presence detection of a person in a room, may adjust the light only when presence of a person is sensed. However, these systems are inferior to the present invention, e.g. in that the systems do not set the light based on any knowledge of any position in three dimensions of the person or a portion of the person (target) as a function of time. The prior art systems are thereby related to numerous drawbacks, e.g. in that the lighting is not conveniently set for the target(s) and/or that the lighting is not energy efficient. Conversely, the control unit and the method of the present invention are highly advantageous in that they efficiently and conveniently control the luminance in the space based on an estimated 3D location of target(s) as a function of time.

"As the 3D location of the target(s) is (are) estimated as a function of time, the present invention is further advantageous in that a vertical motion/movement of the target may be estimated. More specifically, a velocity and/or acceleration of the target may be estimated. Based on this information, the control of the luminance in the space may be even more improved.

"It will be appreciated that the term 'three-dimensional location' (3D) in this context may be construed as a spatial location, e.g. a location in a space defined by substantially any coordinate system, e.g. polar or Cartesian coordinates. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that the term 'estimate' in this context may be construed as 'measure', 'determine', 'predict', or any other similar term. For example, the control unit may comprise means for sensing (e.g. a sensor) a 3D location of a target.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to estimate the three-dimensional location based on an azimuth angle, an elevation angle, and a distance to the target. Hence, the 3D location of the target(s) may be based on polar coordinates and a distance to the target. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit hereby may conveniently estimate the spatial/3D location of the targets(s) as a function of time.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to identify an activity of the target based on the estimate of the three-dimensional location and to control the luminance in the space based on the activity of the target. It will be appreciated that the terms 'identify an activity' may be construed as a recognition of a pattern/scheme of the 3D location and/or 3D movement of the target(s) such that an activity of the target(s) may be identified. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit firstly identifies an activity of the target (based on the 3D location(s) of the target(s) as a function of time), and secondly controls the luminance in accordance with this activity, such that the luminance is suitably/conveniently adapted to the kind of activity. Hence, the luminance offers improved visual conditions based on the activity the target is engaged in. For example, the control unit may be configured to identify a first activity based on one or more 3D locations/movements of one or more targets at a first period of time and/or at a first portion of the space, and control the luminance according to this activity. Analogously, a second activity of the target(s) may be identified at a second period of time and/or at a second portion of the space, etc., such that the control unit adapts the luminance accordingly.

"The activity which may be identified by the control unit may substantially be any activity/action/exercise of the target(s). For example, if the target is a person, the activity may comprise standing, walking, running, jumping, sitting, cycling, etc. Furthermore, the control unit may identify an even more specific activity based on the 3D location of the target(s)/person(s), e.g. a sporting activity (e.g. football, volleyball, tennis, basketball, etc.) or an occupation (e.g. reading, writing, typing, talking, sewing, playing an instrument, etc.). Moreover, the control unit may be configured to identify any combination of activities for one or more targets, e.g. standing and reading, walking and then sitting, a sitting target (e.g. audience) seated in front of a standing target (e.g. actor), etc.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to identify the activity of the target based on a comparison of the estimate of the three-dimensional location with a three-dimensional location limit of the target. It will be appreciated that the term 'limit' may be construed as a bound, border, threshold, or the like. Furthermore, two or more limits may provide an interval, region, bin, or the like. In other words, the 'three-dimensional location limit' may be construed as a division/partition of the space, and serve as a limit and/or interval for an identification of the activity of the target. For example, the control unit may be configured to estimate a first 3D location of a target with respect to a first vertical or horizontal limit/interval, a second 3D location of a target with respect to a second vertical or horizontal limit/interval, etc. If the control unit estimates that a target(s) is/are present at a certain 3D location limit/interval or that a target moves to another 3D location/interval (e.g. in that a sensor signal exceeds a threshold), the control unit may identify the activity of the target(s) based on a comparison of the estimate of the 3D location with the 3D location(s) limits of the target(s). The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may more precisely identify the activity of the target based on the comparison of the estimate of the 3D locations of target(s) with the 3D location limits/intervals. As a result, the control unit may provide an even more improved control of the luminance in the space.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to identify the activity of the target based on a comparison of the estimate of the three-dimensional location with a model representative of a specific activity. It will be appreciated that the term 'model' may be construed as a typical pattern/scheme of the 3D location of a target as a function of time, corresponding to a specific activity. In other words, if the 3D location of one or more targets as a function of time corresponds to a typical 3D location of targets of a model of a specific activity, the control unit may identify the activity of the target as that specific activity. For example, if the 3D location of head(s), hand(s) and/or foot/feet corresponds to an activity of the target such as e.g. walking, sitting, playing football, etc., the control unit may identify this activity of the target.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to identify the target based on the estimate of the three-dimensional location. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may provide an enhanced understanding of what the target may be, and thereby to an even further extent improve the control of the luminance in the space. In other words, the control unit may recognize/identify a target based on its 3D location as a function of time. For example, a target which 3D location is estimated to be relatively close to the floor of the room, may for example be a foot/feet, leg(s), or the like. Analogously, a target which the control unit estimates to be at an intermediate 3D location may for example be hand(s) and/or a hand-held target (e.g. a tool, sports equipment, etc.). Moreover, the control unit may recognize/identify a target based on its movement, velocity and/or acceleration in a vertical direction. For example, a target which moves with a pendular movement may for example be identified as foot/feet, leg(s), hand(s) of a person walking. Thus, the present embodiment provides the advantage of contributing to the identification/recognition of the target(s), thereby further improving the control of the luminance in the space.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to estimate the three-dimensional location based on a return signal, wherein the return signal is generated by reflection of a probing signal that is reflected against the target. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may easily and conveniently estimate the 3D location on the probing and return signal, wherein the mentioned signals may be transmitted/received from the control unit itself or from a means for transmission/reception of signals, e.g. a transceiver and/or any sensing means comprising a transmitter/receiver.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to estimate the location of a static element based on the probing signal and the return signal. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may even further improve the estimation of one or more 3D locations of target(s) based on its configuration to locate a stationary element. In other words, the control unit may control the luminance in accordance with one or more 3D locations of targets, e.g. head, hands and/or feet of a person which moves, compared to a static/stationary element/object, e.g. a desk. The present embodiment is further advantageous in that the control unit may estimate the location of static element(s) such that an estimation of moving location(s) of target(s) may be infeasible wherein static elements are provided in the space (e.g. book shelves).

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit is further configured to determine an elapsed time, a phase shift and a change in frequency based on the probing signal and/or the return signal. By 'elapsed time', it is meant the time elapsed from the time when the probing signal is transmitted (e.g. from a transmitter) to the time when the return signal is received (e.g. by a plurality of receivers). Furthermore, by 'phase shift' it is here meant the phase shift of the return signal, i.e. phase difference between the return signal for e.g. a plurality of receivers. Moreover, the velocity of the target(s) may be estimated by means of the shift in frequency on a received return signal from a probing signal, known as the Doppler effect. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may even more precisely determine the 3D location of the target(s), leading to an even more improved control of luminance in the space.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit may further be configured to estimate a horizontal range of the target as a function of time. It will be appreciated that the terms 'horizontal range' may be construed as an interval, region, bin, or the like, in a horizontal direction of the space. For example, the 'horizontal range' may be construed as a division/partition of the space in a horizontal direction. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit may estimate a location/position of the target in a plane of the space, resulting in an even more improved control of the luminance in the space. Furthermore, by the estimation of the horizontal range of the target(s), the control unit may more precisely estimate the horizontal location(s)/position(s) of target(s), such that an even more improved control of the luminance in the space may be provided by the control unit. The present embodiment is even further advantageous in that an even more precise estimate of the 3D location of the target may be achieved, leading to an even further improved control of the luminance in the space. Furthermore, the more precise 3D-estimate even further contributes to the identification of the target, such that the present embodiment even further improves the control of the luminance in the space. Moreover, the more precise 3D-estimate of the target location may even further contribute to the identification of the activity of the target by the control unit, resulting in the ability of the control unit to even further control/adapt the luminance in the space.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the control unit is further configured to estimate the velocity of the target such that a trajectory of the target is estimated as a function of time, and wherein the control unit is further configured to control the luminance in accordance with the trajectory. By the terms 'estimate the velocity' it is here meant that the velocity may be estimated from the estimated location(s) of the target(s) as a function of time, e.g. by derivation. Moreover, by the term 'trajectory', it is here meant e.g. a path, a route or a way for target(s) in one, two or three dimensions. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the control unit to an even higher extent is able to control/adapt the luminance in the space based on the estimated trajectory of the target(s). For example, from the estimated location and the velocity of the target(s), the control unit may estimate the location of the target(s) at a later time by integration. Based on this estimate on (future) target location(s), the control unit may even further control the luminance in the space. Moreover, the estimated trajectory/trajectories of target(s) may contribute to the identification of the activity of the target. For example, the control unit may, based on one or more trajectories of a target (e.g. hand, foot, head), identify e.g. standing, walking, running, jumping, sitting, cycling, etc., a sporting activity (e.g. football, volleyball, tennis, basketball, etc.), an occupation (e.g. reading, writing, typing, talking, sewing, playing an instrument, etc.), or any combination of the mentioned (or other) activities. Hence, the control unit may, by the present embodiment, even more conveniently control the luminance in the space.

"The control unit may further be configured to control the luminance in the space based on a previously estimated trajectory of the target. This is advantageous, as the control unit may control the luminance in the space based on one or more trajectories estimated at one or several earlier time periods, thereby leading to an even more precise estimate of the trajectory of the target(s). Additionally, the trajectory of the target may be further improved based on a current estimate of location of the target. Furthermore, the velocity of the target may be estimated based on one or more previously predicted locations and/or velocities of the target. Furthermore, the control unit may even refrain from estimating contemporary trajectories, and control the luminance in the space based on a previously estimated trajectory of the target(s).

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the target is part of an object and the control unit is further configured to control the luminance based on the object. In other words, the target(s) may constitute portion(s) of an object. For example, the object may be a human body, and the one or more targets may be extremities of the human body, e.g. hands, feet, head. The present invention is advantageous in that the control of luminance may be improved if the control is based on an object comprising targets. For example, the control unit may control the luminance based on a walking person, wherein the targets of the person may be feet, hands and/or head. Moreover, the 3D location of the mentioned targets may be estimated for a person (object) walking and then sitting, a person running, etc. The control unit may thereby control the lighting based on the object, wherein the 3D location(s) of the target(s) are estimated, which even further improves the control of the luminance in the space.

"The control unit may further comprise means for receiving information relative to the space and be configured to control the luminance based on the information. The information relative to the space may be obtained in situ, e.g. information relating to the shape of the space itself and/or furniture arranged in the space. Alternatively, the information may be obtained in advance relative to the space (e.g. drawings, designs and/or plans). This advantageous, as the information even further improves the control of the luminance in the space, e.g. in that the information may contribute to the estimation of 3D locations of the targets. For example, the information may indicate what the space is (e.g. sports hall, theatre, music hall, etc.) which further ameliorates the control of the luminance. For example, a sports hall may indicate many estimations of 3D locations of targets (e.g. hands, feet, heads, arms and/or equipment such as e.g. balls), whereas in a theatre, the control unit may be configured to control the lighting based on persons walking to their respective places, sitting during the play, and then walking out of the theatre. A further advantage provided by the information relative to the space (compared to any previously provided information of the space) is that the information may comprise possible changes in the space (e.g. refurnishing). This is beneficial, as the control of luminance in the space may be based on information regarding the present structure/appearance of the space. Furthermore, the correlation may be based on information on how the structure of the space and/or the furniture cast shadows in the space. Information relative to the space may be obtained by means for transmitting and receiving signals, e.g. a sensor and a receiver. Alternatively, the means may be any picture recording system (e.g. a camera or film camera) for receiving information relative to the space.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a lighting control system for controlling a lighting function of a light source. The lighting control system comprises at least one transmitter for transmitting at least one probing signal within a transmitting range and a plurality of receivers for receiving a return signal, wherein the return signal is a part of the probing signal that is reflected against a target present within the transmitting range. A control unit is in communication with the plurality of receivers to estimate the three-dimensional location of the target as a function of time. The present embodiment is advantageous in that the lighting control system conveniently and efficiently transmits/receives signals, which thereafter are used by the control unit for estimating the three-dimensional location of the target as a function of time.

"It will be appreciated that the specific embodiments and any additional features described above with reference to the control unit are likewise applicable and combinable with the method according to the second aspect of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"These and other aspects of the present invention will now be described in more detail, with reference to the appended drawings showing a currently preferred embodiment of the invention, wherein:

"FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a lighting control system according to an embodiment of the present invention,

"FIGS. 2a-c are schematic views of a control unit in a space according to an embodiment of the present invention, and

"FIG. 3 is a view of a trajectory of a target according to an embodiment of the present invention."

For more information, see this patent application: Pandharipande, Ashish Vijay; Caicedo Fernandez, David Ricardo. Control Unit and Method for Lighting Control. Filed July 19, 2012 and posted June 19, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=5661&p=114&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140612.PD.&OS=PD/20140612&RS=PD/20140612

Keywords for this news article include: Koninklijke Philips N.v.

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