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Patent 07812475 - Automatic sensing power systems and methods > Description

Description

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RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/983,507, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, filed Nov. 5, 2004, which takes priority to U.S. Patent App. No. 60/518,374, filed Nov. 7, 2003, and entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference, and is related to co-pending, co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,143, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,084, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,132, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,082, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,094, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/334,098, entitled Automatic Sensing Power Systems and Methods, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The proliferation of electronic and electrical devices is a key factor fueling an ever-increasing demand for additional alternating current (AC) outlets at home, on the road, and in the workplace. Often there are too many devices and not enough outlets. Additionally, devices including calculators, phones, and laptops use AC to direct current (DC) power converters (commonly called wall-bricks) to connect to AC power outlets. Due to their non-standard bulky form-factors, wall-bricks often take up more than one outlet, exacerbating outlet-shortage problems and driving users to seek solutions.

A popular remedy is to use multi-outlet power strips. However, these power strips provide an ineffective solution because they fail to adequately address all of the problems created by, and associated with, the increasing prevalence and use of wall-bricks.

For example, a user who owns six devices buys a power strip. While connecting the equipment, the user realizes that two devices use wall-bricks. Upon plugging the bricks into the power strip, the user discovers that only two or three of the six outlets remain open, leaving at least one outlet short. After spending $25-$200, the user expected to be able to use all the outlets, but now must buy one or more additional power strips to plug-in the remaining devices.

Low-cost power strips provide additional outlets, but do not adequately condition or stabilize incoming power, increasing the risk of equipment malfunction or outright failure. Moderate to high priced surge protectors perform well, but bulky wall-bricks often cover multiple outlets, reducing the number of devices that can be connected.

Additionally, wall-bricks often generate heat and electrical interference in addition to passing along the ambient AC conducted sags, spikes, surges, and noise generated by the power-grid and carried along AC power-lines throughout industrial, office, and residential settings. Electrical power disturbance events cause data loss and damage equipment. Wall-bricks pack and travel poorly, create cable-clutter, and are an eyesore.

Damaged equipment and downtime costs are a growing concern among users. As technology has advanced, business, commerce, home, and industrial users have become increasingly dependant on the health of the networks that supply and manipulate data and information. Additionally, the growing emphasis on network speed and the sheer volume of transactions that can take place in a fraction of a second make the prospect of downtime that much more ominous. The cost to business and industry of human or naturally caused power surges and outages has become substantially more detrimental.

It is clear from the statistical evidence that power conditioning is a vital issue and one whose importance is only going to increase. Clean, constant, noise-free power is required to ensure the proper operation, and to protect the delicate circuitry, of today\'s electronic and electrical devices.

Presently, systems and methods are needed that simultaneously solve outlet-shortage and transient voltage surge and noise problems. New systems and methods are needed to eliminate wall-brick issues and other identified problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, an automatic sensing system and method include a line-cord power device configured to convey power between a power source that generates alternating current (AC) power and an electrical device having a connection. The line-cord power device has an AC to direct current (DC) regulator configured to receive the AC power and to convert the AC power to DC power having a first DC voltage level. The line-cord power device also has a plurality of DC receptacles, wherein at least one DC receptacle is configured to receive the connection from the electrical device. The line-cord power device includes a processor configured to identify when the electrical device connection is connected to the at least one DC receptacle, to identify a second DC voltage level required for the electrical device, and to generate a signal to configure a DC power output to the at least one DC receptacle at the second DC voltage level. The line-cord power device also includes a DC to DC regulator configured to receive the signal from the processor and, in response thereto, to convert the DC power from the first DC voltage level to the second DC voltage level and to generate the DC power to the at least one DC receptacle at the second DC voltage level. In another embodiment, the line-cord device includes one or more AC receptacles. In another embodiment, the line-cord device has a detachable wall plug device with one or more DC receptacles and one or more AC receptacles. The detachable wall plug device is configured to connect to the line-cord device and/or to connect to the power source.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1

is a side view of an automatic sensing power system with a detachable module in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2

is a top view of an automatic sensing power system with a detachable module in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3

is a side view of an automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4

is a diagram of an automatic sensing power system communicating with one or more electrical devices and an electrical supply in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5

is a block diagram of an automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system communicating with a computing device and an electrical device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11

is a block diagram of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12

is a side view of another automatic sensing power system with a detachable module in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13

is a top view of another automatic sensing power system with a detachable module in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14

is a side view of another automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15

is a top view of a line-cord automatic sensing device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16

is a top view of another line-cord automatic sensing device with a connector and adaptors in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17

is a top view of other line-cord automatic sensing devices with connectors and DC adaptors in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18

is a front view of rack/cabinet mount automatic sensing devices in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19

is a front view of a modular power receptacle in a modular wall unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20

is a front view of a modular wall unit with modular automatic sensing power system receptacles in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 21

is a front view of modular automatic sensing power system receptacles in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22

is a front view of modular automatic sensing power system receptacles in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 23-43

are screen views of a user interface used with an automatic sensing power system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The automatic sensing power systems and methods enable alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) power conversion, DC to DC power conversion and supply, data communication, and power management. In one embodiment, an automatic sensing power system (ASPS) component is embedded in an electronic device, such as a laptop computer, and a power delivery component resides in an ASPS, such as a power strip or a receptacle.

In one embodiment, upon connection to the ASPS, the laptop communicates its power requirements to the ASPS via a power cord. The ASPS processes the request and supplies the appropriate power. Inexpensive low voltage electrical cords and modular adapters replace the wall-bricks typically supplied with cell and desk phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, cordless drills, fax machines, and other electrical devices. The ASPS is programmable and upgradeable.

The ASPS solves many problems currently encountered by home, office, and industrial consumers. The ASPS couples with single and multi-receptacle plug-in and hard-wired surge suppression devices, AC/DC power converters and transformers, and a wide-range of electronic and electrical appliances, tools, and devices.

In one embodiment, the ASPS eliminates wall-bricks by placing modular DC receptacles in a power system. The power system has AC and DC receptacles in one unit, thereby eliminating the need for multiple power strips. The power system includes communication and networking interfaces and systems over which communications may be transmitted, such as through Bluetooth, Ethernet, Firewire, and/or a USB connection. In this embodiment, the ASPS includes expanded data line protection, such as for cable, DSL, Ethernet, and modem protection. In another embodiment, the ASPS integrates gateway, network, and router capabilities. Another embodiment incorporates data communication over a broadband connection. In one example, electronic devices communicate with and through the power system via a DC connector or an AC connector.

In another embodiment, the ASPS includes a line-cord device with a detachable wall plug device. Once detached, the wall-plug device can be moved between rooms or offices or taken on the road to replace wall-bricks.

FIGS. 1-3

depict an exemplary embodiment of an automatic sensing power system (ASPS). In the embodiment of

FIG. 1

, the ASPS 102 includes a line-cord device 104 and a detachable wall plug device 106. The line-cord device 104 has a housing 108, and the detachable wall plug device 106 has a housing 110. In other embodiments, the ASPS 102 may be only a wall plug device, only a line-cord device, or a combination thereof. The ASPS 102 also may be embodied in other forms, such as a modular wall plug permanently installed or removably installed in place of a wall receptacle, an alternating current (AC) wall receptacle, or another AC or direct current (DC) device.

The ASPS 102 may be incorporated in, for example, an electronic device, such as a computer, a laptop computer, a pocket PC, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a mobile phone, a recording device, or another electrical device. As used herein, an electrical device means a device that operates using electricity, including AC and/or DC electricity. Similarly, electrical devices may use a portion of the ASPS systems identified below, including those electrical devices previously listed and other electrical devices.

Referring again to

FIGS. 1-3

, the line-cord device 104 includes one or more AC receptacles 112-126. Each AC receptacle 112-126 includes a power control/indicator 128-142, such as a physical or logical on/off switch used to enable or disable power flow to the associated AC receptacle 112-126. In one embodiment, the power control/indicators 128-142 are lighted switches. In another embodiment, the lighted switches are lighted when power is enabled to the AC receptacle, and not lighted when power is not enabled to the receptacle. In another embodiment, the power control/indicator 128-142 is only an indicator, such as a light, and is not used to enable or disable power to the associated receptacle 112-126. For example, a processor within the ASPS 102 may be used to enable or disable power to a receptacle, and the power control/indicator 128-142 indicates whether or not power is enabled or disabled for that receptacle. In still another embodiment, the power control/indicator 128-142 is configured to enable and disable power to the associated receptacle, and the power control/indicator includes an indicator, such as a light, to indicate whether power is enabled for the receptacle either by the physical power control or by a processor or other system or method.

The line-cord device 104 also includes one or more automatic sensing (AS) DC receptacles 144-148. The AS DC receptacles 144-148 may be used by devices for which the power requirements, including voltage and/or amperage requirements, will be automatically determined. The power requirements for the electrical device connected to the AS DC receptacles 144-148 then will be provided to the electrical device, as will be explained more completely below.

The AS DC receptacles 144-148 also have an associated power control/indicator 150-154 such as a physical or logical on/off switch used to enable or disable power flow to the associated DC receptacle 144-148. In one embodiment, the power/control indicators 150-154 are lighted switches. In another embodiment, the lighted switches are lighted when power is enabled to the DC receptacle, and not lighted when power is not enabled to the receptacle. In another embodiment, the power control/indicator 150-154 is only an indicator, such as a light, and is not used to enable or disable power to the associated receptacle 144-148. For example, a processor within the ASPS 102 may be used to enable or disable power to a receptacle, and the power control/indicator 150-154 depicts whether or not power is enabled or disabled for that receptacle. In still another embodiment, the power control/indicator 150-154 is configured to enable and disable power to the associated receptacle, and the power control/indicator includes an indicator, such as a light, to indicate whether power is enabled for the receptacle either by the physical power control or by a processor or another system or method.

In the embodiment of

FIGS. 1-3

, the line-cord device 104 also has a main power control/indicator 156. The main power control/indicator 156 is used to enable or disable power to the line-cord device 104. In one embodiment, the main power control/indicator 156 includes a fuse device configured to disable power to the line-cord device 104 if power to the line-cord device exceeds selected voltage and/or selected amperage requirements. In another embodiment, the main power/control indicator 156 includes a surge protection device and/or other voltage and/or amperage protection devices.

The ASPS 102 also includes an electrical connector 158 configured to transfer power from an electrical supply to the ASPS 102. In one embodiment, the electrical connector 158 also is configured to communicate data to and from the ASPS 102.

In one embodiment, the ASPS 102 includes a reset control 160. The reset control 160 is used to reset the ASPS 102, in some instances, if a fuse or other device in the ASPS disables power to the ASPS.

In one embodiment, the ASPS 102 includes a data in port 162 and/or a data out port 164. The data ports 162-164 are used to communicate data to and from the ASPS 102, such as to a computing device, another data device, or another electrical device. The ASPS 102 may use one or more communication protocols to transfer data to and from the ASPS.

In one embodiment, the ASPS 102 includes a phone in port 166 and/or a phone out port 168. The phone ports 166-168 are used to communicate voice and/or data communications over a telephone or telephone-related communication device.

In another embodiment, as best depicted in

FIG. 3

, the ASPS 102 includes a data communication port 170. The data communication port 170 is used to communicate process data, control data, control instructions, update data, electrical device data, and other data with a processing device, a computing device, or another device. In one embodiment, the data communication port 170 is a universal serial bus (USB) port.

In another embodiment, other data communication connectors may be used. As best depicted in

FIGS. 1 and 3

, other data communication connections 172 and 174 are used to communicate data to and from the ASPS 102 in various formats and using various protocols. In one example, the data connections 172-174 include one or more cable ports, such as an in and out cable connection. Other types of data connections, networking connections, device connections, and/or device controllers may be used.

Referring again to

FIGS. 1 and 2

, the detachable wall plug device 106 includes AS DC receptacles 176-180. The AS DC receptacles 176-180 have an associated power control/indicator 182-186. The AS DC receptacles 176-180 and the power control/indicators 182-186 are the same as those described above.

The detachable wall plug device 106 also includes one or more electrical connectors 188-190, such as module plugs, used to transfer power to the wall plug device. The electrical connectors 188-190 connect to receiving connectors 192-194 in the line-cord device 104. AC and/or DC power is transmitted from the line-cord device 104 to the wall plug device 106 via the electrical connectors 188-190 and the receiving connectors 192-194. In some embodiments, communications, including control instructions and/or data, are transmitted from the line-cord device 104 to the wall plug device 106 via the electrical connectors 188-190 and the receiving connectors 192-194. It will be appreciated that one or more electrical connectors may be used. Additionally, while a standard 3-prong wall plug is depicted in

FIGS. 1 and 2

, other electrical connectors may be used.

In one embodiment, the wall plug device 106 includes a fuse device. In another embodiment, the wall plug device 106 includes a surge protection device and/or other voltage and/or amperage protection devices. In another embodiment, the wall plug device 106 includes a reset control.

In one embodiment, the ASPS 102 includes a grounded indicator 196 and/or a protected indicator 198. The grounded indicator 196 indicates that the ASPS 102 is properly grounded to an electrical supply, such as to an AC receptacle. Therefore, the ASPS 102 should provide properly grounded electrical connections for electrical devices connected to the ASPS.

The ASPS 102 also may include a protected indicator 196 in other embodiments. The protected indicator 198 indicates that surge protection and/or noise filtration systems and/or circuits are functional. In other embodiments, the wall plug device 106 includes a grounded indicator and/or a protected indicator.

FIG. 4

depicts an exemplary embodiment in which an ASPS 102A communicates with one or more electrical devices 402, including a computer 404, a PDA 406, a mobile phone 408, and/or another electrical device, via an electrical connection 410 and/or a data communication connection 412. The electrical connection 410 and/or the data communication connection 412 are depicted as logical connections. The data communication connection 412 is optional for some embodiments. In one embodiment, the electrical connection 410 and/or the data communication connection 412 both may use a single physical connection over which both power and data communications are transmitted. In another embodiment, the electrical connection 410 and/or the data communication connection 412 may use one or more physical connections.

The ASPS 102A also is connected by a connection 414 to a power system 416 and/or a communication system 418. In one example, the power system 416 is a power source for AC power. In one embodiment of

FIG. 4

, the ASPS 102A communicates both power and data over the same connection 414 to the power system 416. In this example, the power system 416 includes one or more of a private power system and/or a public power system. In this example, data communications are transferred to other electrical devices, such as to communications devices or computers, via the power system 416. In another example of this embodiment, data communications are transmitted to other electrical devices, such as communication devices and/or computers, via the communication system 418.

In one example, the electrical connection 410 is an AC connection. In another example, the electrical connection 410 is a DC connection. In another embodiment, the electrical connection 410 is a two-wire DC cord with a modular connector on one end and a barrel connector on the other end. In another embodiment, the electrical connection 410 is a two-wire DC cord with a modular connector on one end and configured to accept one or more adaptive connectors on the other end.

In another example, the connection 414 is connected to an electrical supply, such as an AC receptacle in a home, office, or business, to a private or public power system. In one example, the connection 414 to the electrical supply connects to a public electrical power grid. Private circuits generally connect to the electrical grid via a service entrance panel or subpanel device that may or may not require the AS communication interfaces described herein.

In another embodiment, an automatic sensing (AS) processing system, as described more completely below, resides on the ASPS 102A. In another embodiment, an AS processing system resides on the electrical device 402. In another embodiment, an AS processing system does not reside on the electrical device 402.

In still another embodiment, the electrical device 402 includes one or more of an Ethernet device, a cable device, a digital subscriber line (DSL) device, a satellite device, a dial-up device, an internet protocol (IP) device, or another device configured to communicate data, including voice communications converted to data and transferred as data via the connection 414. In still another embodiment, the data communications are transferred via the power system 416 and/or the communication system 418 to another electrical device, such an Ethernet device, a cable device, a DSL device, a satellite device, a dial-up device, an IP device, or another device configured to transmit or receive communications.

FIG. 5

depicts an exemplary embodiment of an automatic power system (APS). The APS 502 of

FIG. 5

includes an automatic sensing power system (ASPS) 102B, an electrical supply 504, an electrical device 506, and a computing device 508. The ASPS 102B is used to automatically determine the power requirements of the electrical device 506, including voltage and/or amperage requirements, and supply the appropriate power to the electrical device.

In this embodiment, the electrical device 506 does not have a power converter. Instead, the electrical device 506 includes a simple electrical connector between the ASPS 102B and the electrical device. The electrical connector is not a bulky power converter, such as a wall brick. The connector may be a standard power conducting wire, such as those used for a laptop computer, a PDA, a mobile telephone, or another electrical device (without the power converter).

The ASPS 102B receives power from the electrical supply 504. Upon determining the power requirements, the ASPS 102B supplies the correct power to the electrical device 506.

The ASPS 102B communicates with the computing device 508. The computing device 508 may be a computing device, data device, or another device configured to communicate with the ASPS 102B.

In one embodiment, the computing device 508 receives status data from the ASPS 102B, including faults, breakdowns in processes, if any, surge identifications, and other status information. In another embodiment, the ASPS 102B receives data from the computing device 508. In one example, the ASPS 102B receives control data, such as configuration data, from the computing device 508.

In one example, a user uses the computing device 508 to load the power requirements of the electrical device 506 to the ASPS 102B. The ASPS 102B stores the power requirements and uses the power requirements to provide the appropriate power levels, including voltage and/or amperage levels, to the electrical device 506.

In another example, the ASPS 102B receives data from the computing device 508. The computing device 508 is configured to transmit power requirements for the electrical device 506 to the ASPS 102B. In this example, the ASPS 102B is configured to assign a particular receptacle, such as a particular DC or a particular AC receptacle, to the electrical device 506. In this example, a user may plug the electrical device 506 into a particular receptacle in the ASPS 102B, and the power requirements will be transmitted to the electrical device 506.

In one example, the computing device 508 is configured to enable the particular receptacle for the electrical device 506. In this example, the computing device 508 also is configured to disable one or more other receptacles, including one or more other AC receptacles and/or DC receptacles. In this example, disabling one or more receptacles provides a safety feature so that the electrical device 506 is not inadvertently plugged into a receptacle with the wrong power requirements, which may result in damaging the electrical device. In this example, an indicator light may indicate whether the receptacle is enabled or disabled to receive power and/or to transmit power to an electrical device.

The ASPS 102B may receive configuration data and/or control data to configure one or more receptacles. For example, the ASPS 102B may configure a first receptacle for a mobile telephone and a second receptacle for a computer. In this example, the first receptacle would provide the correct power requirements to the mobile telephone, and the second receptacle would provide the correct power requirements to the computer.

In the above example, the electrical device 506 does not require an AS processing system, as described more completely below. This embodiment provides flexibility to the user for devices not having the AS processing system.

It will be appreciated that the configuration data and/or control data may be provided to the ASPS 102B in a variety of ways. In one embodiment, the ASPS 102B receives configuration data identifying a model of a particular electrical device 506, such as a device name and/or a model name or number or another identifier. In this example, data identifying particular electrical devices and their power requirements reside on the ASPS 102B. In this example, the ASPS 102B performs a search, look up, or other process to identify the particular electronic device model and its power requirements from the data stored on the ASPS. The ASPS 102B then can provide the correct power to the electrical device 506.

In another embodiment, the ASPS 102B is configured to receive the particular power requirements, including voltage and/or amperage requirements, directly from the computing device 508. In this example, the ASPS 102B is not required to perform a search, look up, or other processing operation to identify a particular electrical device\'s power requirements. In this example, after receiving the configuration information, the ASPS 102B configures a particular receptacle for the power requirements.

FIG. 6

depicts another exemplary embodiment of an APS 502A. In this embodiment, the electrical device 506A includes an AS processing system. In the embodiment of

FIG. 6

, power is transmitted from the ASPS 102C to the electrical device 506A. Additionally, data is communicated between the ASPS 102C and the electrical device 506A.

It will be appreciated that the power and the data may be transmitted over the same physical connection, one physical connection for the power and another physical connection for the data, or multiple physical connections for the power and/or data.

In one embodiment of

FIG. 6

, the ASPS 102C identifies that an electrical device 506A has been plugged into one of the receptacles. This identification may be made through hardware, software, firmware, or other methods. In one example, the electrical device 506A makes a circuit when the electrical device is plugged into the receptacle. In another example, the electrical device 506A causes the receptacle to transmit a signal when the electrical device is plugged into the receptacle.

In one example, the electrical device 506A generates a power request upon being connected to the receptacle. In one example, the request includes an identification of the particular electrical device. In another example, the request includes specific power requirements for the electrical device 506A.

The ASPS 102C receives the request and determines the power requirements for the electrical device 506A. In one example, the ASPS 102C identifies the particular electrical device 506A and searches its data, such as through a look up, a search, or other determination, to identify the power requirements for the electrical device 506A. The ASPS 102C provides the appropriate power, including the appropriate voltage and amperage, to the electrical device 506A.

In another example, the ASPS 102C receives a request for power from the electrical device 506A. In this example, the request includes the specific power requirements. In this example, the ASPS 102C is not required to perform a look up, search, or other determination to identify the power requirements for the electrical device 506A. The ASPS 102C provides the power to the electrical device 506A according to the power requirements.

FIG. 7

depicts an exemplary embodiment of one or more processes occurring in the ASPS 102D, the electrical device 506B, and the electrical device 506C. The ASPS 102D communicates with a computing device 508B, and the ASPS 102D receives power from the electrical supply 504.

The ASPS 102D has an AS processing system 702. The AS processing system 702 controls the operations of the ASPS 102D, including data storage, power conversion, enabling and/or disabling receptacles, generating the correct power to each receptacle, communicating with electrical devices 506B and 506C, and communicating with the computing device 508B.

In one embodiment, the AS processing system 702 stores data in, and retrieves data from, the storage device 704. The storage device 704 may include, for example, RAM, ROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash storage, or another storage device.

The AS processing system 702 also processes communications received from the electrical device 506B via the AS communication interface 706. The AS processing system 702 determines what action to the take based upon the communication from the electrical device 506B. The AS processing system 702 also may transmit data and/or other communications to the electrical device 506B via the AS communication interface 706B.

In one embodiment, the AS processing system 702 controls conversion of power at the power converter 708. In one example, the AS processing system 702 transmits control signals to the power converter 708 to control the power conversion and subsequent output of the converted power to one or more receptacles. In another example, the AS processing system 702 is configured to control at which receptacle the power is output from the power converter 708. For example, the AS processing system 702 may transmit a control signal to the power converter 708 requiring the power converter to output power to a selected receptacle. In another example, the power converter 708 is hard wired to one or more receptacles, and the AS processing system 702 controls hard wired switches from the power converter to one or more receptacles. In another example, the power converter 708 may otherwise output power to particular receptacles in response to control signals from the AS processing system 702.

The power converter 708 receives power from the power input interface 710. The power input interface 710 receives power from the electrical supply 504.

In one embodiment, the power converter 708 includes voltage and/or amperage protection and/or surge protectors. In another embodiment, voltage and/or amperage protection and/or surge protectors are configured between the power output interface 712 and the power converter 708 and/or the AS processing system 702.

The AS processing system 702 also controls the receptacles in the power output interface 712. The power output interface 712 includes one or more AC receptacles and/or one or more DC receptacles.

Additionally, the power output interface 712 may include one or more power control/indicators, such as those identified in

FIGS. 1-3

. The power control/indicators may be controlled by the AS processing system 702 or otherwise. Alternately, the power control/indicators may be hard wired to one or more receptacles. In one example, the power control/indicators may indicate that power is enabled or disabled for a particular receptacle based upon power being transferred to the control/indicator. Other examples exist. In another example, the power control/indicator is a physical switch used to disable or enable power to a particular output, regardless of any control processing by the AS processing system 702.

The AS processing system 702 also may transmit data to, and receive data from, a computing device 508B or another device via the communication interface 714. The communication interface 714 may be used to transmit and/or receive control data, configuration data, status data, or other data. In one example, the AS processing system 702 transmits and/or receives configuration data from the computing device 508B via the communication interface 714. In another example, the AS processing system 702 transmits and/or receives configuration data from the computing device 508B via the communication interface 714 and stores the configuration data in the storage device 704. The configuration data may be, for example, search data or other data used by the AS processing system 702 to identify power requirements for one or more electrical devices.

The AS processing system 702 also may transmit and/or receive other data, such as communication data, application data, video, voice communications, and other communications via the communication interface 714 to the computing device 508B or through the electrical supply 504. In one example, the electrical supply 504 includes a power supply grid. In this example, the AS processing system 702 transmits data via the communication interface 714 to the electrical supply 504 for further communication to another electrical device. In another example of this embodiment, the AS processing system 702 transmits data via the communication interface 714 to the computing device 508B.

In any of the above examples, the data transmitted by the AS processing system 702 via the communication interface 714 may be configuration data, status data, or other data used for the operation of the electrical device 506B or 506C or other information regarding the electrical devices. The data may be used by a user of the computing device 508B or another user.

The AS processing system 702 also may transmit data to, and receive data from, a computing device 508B or another device via a user interface 716. The user interface 716 generates data for display by the computing device 508B or another device. The user interface 716 may be used to transmit and/or receive control data, configuration data, status data, or other data. In one example, the user interface 716 resides on the ASPS 102D and generates data for display by the electrical device 506B. In another example, the user interface 716 resides on the electrical device 506B, and the ASPS 102D communicates with the user interface so the user interface can display data and enter control processes and operations, such as selecting a particular voltage for a particular receptacle.

In some embodiments, the communication interface 706 and the communication interface 714 are a single interface. In other examples, the communication interface 706, the communication interface 714, and/or the user interface 716 are a single interface.

In the embodiment of

FIG. 7

, the electrical device 506B has an electrical device automatic sensing (EDAS) processing system 718 and a power input interface 720. The EDAS processing system 718 communicates with the ASPS 102D via the AS communication interface 706. In one embodiment, the EDAS processing system 718 includes a processor. In another embodiment, the EDAS processing system 718 includes a storage device, such as an EPROM, EEPROM, Flash storage, or other storage. In another embodiment, the EDAS processing system 718 is configured with hardware, firmware, and/or software configured to communicate with the ASPS 102D and/or otherwise configure, control, transmit, receive, and/or process communications related to power requirements, statistics, and/or operational requirements of the electrical device 506B.

In one example, the EDAS processing system 718 generates a request for power to the ASPS 102D via the AS communication interface 706. In another embodiment, the EDAS processing system 718 receives a communication requesting whether or not the electrical device 506B is to receive power. In another embodiment, the EDAS processing system 718 processes instructions for transmitting power requirements to the ASPS 102D or for receiving information regarding power requirements of the electrical device 506B and the provision of power to the electrical device from the ASPS 102D.

The power input interface 720 receives power from the ASPS 102D via the power output interface 712. The power input interface 720 may be hardware, such as a plug and/or cord, and/or another device.

In the embodiment of

FIG. 7

, the electrical device 506C does not include an EDAS processing system. In this embodiment, data is not communicated between the electrical device 506C and the ASPS 102D. In this embodiment, the electrical device 506C receives power at the power input interface 722 from the ASPS 102D via the power output interface 712.

In one embodiment, the computing device 508B includes a configuration system used to configure the ASPS 102D. In one embodiment, the computing device 508B includes a user interface (UI) used to configure power requirements for particular electrical devices, power requirements or other configurations for particular AC and/or DC receptacles, operational parameters for the ASPS 102D, and/or other processes of the ASPS 102D.

In one example, the UI enables a user to configure particular receptacles on the ASPS 102D for particular electrical devices. The UI presents a simple screen or other output to the user, such as with radio buttons to enable or to disable particular receptacles. For example, a user may use the UI to program a DC receptacle for a mobile telephone by setting the voltage and/or amperage requirements of the mobile telephone for a selected receptacle. The user may use the GUI to program a second DC receptacle for a PDA by setting the voltage and/or amperage requirements of the PDA for a selected receptacle. In a particular embodiment of this example, the user may select an identification of the electrical device from a menu or other interface. The electrical device then may be assigned to a particular receptacle.

In another example, the particular receptacle with the associated electrical device may be enabled or disabled using a radio button or other entry on the UI. In the above example, after the user configures the first receptacle for the mobile telephone, an enable and disable button is generated for the first receptacle. After the user configures the second receptacle for the PDA, an enable and disable button is generated for the second receptacle. Once the configuration data is transmitted to the ASPS 102D, the communication connection between the ASPS 102D and the computing device 508B may be removed.

In one example, once the configuration data is downloaded to the ASPS 102D, the ASPS retains the configuration data. In another example, the ASPS 102D may be reset by the computing device 508B. In another example, the ASPS 102D configuration may be reset by a reset button, such as the reset button depicted in

FIG. 1

. In another example, the configuration of the ASPS 102D may be reset upon removing power from the device. Other examples exist.

FIG. 8

depicts an exemplary embodiment of an ASPS 102E communicating with the electrical device 506D. In this embodiment, the ASPS 102E has a communication interface 802 through which it communicates to a communication interface 804 of the electrical device. The AS processing system 702A controls transmission of communications from, and reception of communications at, the communication interface 802.

In some embodiments of

FIG. 8

, the communication interface 706 and the communication interface 714 are a single interface. In other examples, the communication interface 706, the communication interface 714, the user interface 716, and/or the communication interface 802 are a single interface.

In this embodiment, communications normally transmitted to and from the electrical device 506D via an Ethernet connection, a cable connection, a DSL connection, a dial-up connection, an IP connection, or another type of connection through which other data may be communicated, are transmitted to the ASPS 102E for further transmission and from the ASPS to the electrical device. In this embodiment, the communications being transmitted between the electrical device 506D and the ASPS 102E may occur via one or more physical connections. The power transmitted from the ASPS 102E to the electrical device 506D may be provided over the same physical connection or another physical connection.

FIG. 9

depicts an exemplary embodiment of another ASPS 102F communicating with an electrical device 506E and a computing device 508D. The ASPS 102F includes an AS processing system 702B. The AS processing system 702B operates with a power data system 902, a data update and device control process 904, and a communication system 906.

The power data system 902 has data identifying the power requirements for one or more electrical devices. In one embodiment, the power data system 902 includes a voltage and/or amperage database that identifies the voltage and/or amperage requirements for one or more electrical devices. In this embodiment, the voltage and/or amperage database may be used with a look up or other search process by the AS processing system 702B to identify the power requirements for an electrical device. The power data system 902 may include other power related data, including configuration data and other operational data.

The data update and device control process 904 is used to automatically update information stored in the power data system 902. In one example, the data update and device control process 904 includes an automatic database update process used to automatically receive database updates from the computing device 508D and to automatically store the updated data in the power data system 902.

The communication system 906 may include a communication interface to the computing device 508D, a communication interface to the electrical device 506E, and/or another system configured to receive and/or transmit communications, including instructions and data. The communication system 906 may include one or more different types of physical connections and/or ports by which communications are received or transmitted. The communication system 906 also may operate according to one or more communication protocols to receive and/or transmit communications.

The computing device 508D includes a processor 908 used to control the processes in the computing device. In one embodiment, the processor 908 controls storage of data in, and retrieval of data from, the data storage device 910. The processor 908 also receives communications from, and transmits communications to, the communication system 912.

The processor 908 also receives data from, and transmits data to, the update system 914. The update system 914 may include an automated data update process 916 and a manual update process 918. The automated data update process 916 is configured to automatically update data, including configuration data, power requirements, and other data, for the ASPS 102F. The manual data update process 918 is configured to enable a user to manually update data, including configuration data, power requirements, and other data, to the ASPS 102F.

The processor 908 controls generation of data to the display 920, such as data for a GUI or another user interface. Additionally, the processor 908 receives data from an input device 922, such as a keyboard, a mouse, a pointer, or another input device. The processor 908 also outputs data to other output devices 924, such as a printer, another electrical device, or another device.

In one embodiment, the computing device 508D enables a user to configure the ASPS 102F, including one or more AC and/or DC receptacles on the ASPS 102F. The configuration includes enabling and disabling one or more receptacles and providing configuration data, including power requirements, to the ASPS 102F for one or more receptacles in which one or more electrical devices will be plugged.

In one embodiment, the processor 908 generates a GUI to the display 920. In another embodiment, the processor 908 generates another user interface.

In one example, the GUI or other user interface is used to display operational and event logging. In another embodiment, the GUI or other user interface is used to display device operational information and AC and/or DC receptacle controls.

In the embodiment of

FIG. 9

, the electrical device 506E connects to the ASPS 102F. Thereafter, the electrical device 506E initiates an automatic power request upon the connection at step 926. The ASPS 102F receives the request, processes the request, and automatically initiates the power supply to the electrical device 506E at step 928. Other examples exist.

As used in the description of

FIGS. 5-9

, the word “system†includes hardware, firmware, software, and/or other systems used to perform the functional and/or component operations and/or requirements. Similarly, the word “interface†includes hardware, firmware, software, and/or other systems used to perform the functional and/or component operations and/or requirements. One or more interfaces and/or systems may be separated and/or combined in the above-descriptions. Physical and/or logical components may be combined and/or separated.

FIG. 10

depicts an exemplary embodiment of an ASPS 102G. In the embodiment of

FIG. 10

, a processor 1002 controls the operation of the ASPS 102G.

Power is received at the ASPS 102G from a power system 416. In the embodiment of

FIG. 10

, the power is received at a fuse 1004. In other embodiments, the power may be received into the ASPS 102G at a resetable switch 1006, at an on/off switch 1008, or at another component.

In the embodiment of

FIG. 10

, the fuse 1004 enables power to flow from the power system 416 to the ASPS 102G. The fuse 1004 terminates the flow of power into the ASPS 102G when the amperage level or another power level reaches an upper limit. In one example, the fuse 1004 opens the circuit between the power system 416 and the resetable switch 1006, or other components of the ASPS 102G, if the resetable switch is not present or when the current from the power system 416 is approximately at or exceeds 30 amps, thereby terminating the flow of electricity to the ASPS 102G. In some embodiments, the fuse 1004 is replaced after the fuse opens the circuit between the power system 416 and the resetable switch 1006 or other components. The fuse 1004 is optional in some embodiments.

The resetable switch 1006 temporarily terminates the circuit between the power system 416 and the on/off switch 1008 or other components of the ASPS 102G if the on/off switch is not present. In one example, if the on/off switch 1008 is not present, the resetable switch 1006 temporarily terminates the circuit between the power system 416 and the optical relay 1010 and the AC to DC switching regulator 1012. The resetable switch 1006 can be reset, such as by a user or automatically by another method, to close the circuit and enable power transmission to the components of the ASPS 102G. In one embodiment, the resetable switch 1006 is a circuit breaker configured to open the circuit when the current level from the power being drawn from the power system 416 is approximately at or exceeds 15 amps. The resetable switch 1006 is optional in some embodiments.

The on/off switch 1008 enables a user to manually turn power on and off for the ASPS 102G. The on/off switch 1008 may be a toggle switch, a push switch, an electronic and/or software driven switch, or another type of switch. It will be appreciated that the on/off switch 1008 may be located logically or physically in another location in the ASPS 102G, such as before or after the fuse 1004 or the resetable switch 1006. The on/off switch 1008 is optional in some embodiments.

The optical relay 1010 isolates the incoming AC power from the processor 1002 and enables the processor to control turning AC power on or off for one or more of the AC receptacles 1014. The optical relay 1010 isolates the received AC power and the transmitted AC power from connections from the processor 1002.

The optical relay 1010 receives one or more signals from the processor 1002. Based upon the one or more signals, the optical relay 1010 connects AC power to one or more of the AC receptacles 1014. In one embodiment, the optical relay 1010 connects AC power to one selected AC receptacle. In another embodiment, the optical relay 1010 connects AC power to N selected AC receptacles out of M possible AC receptacles, where N is a number greater than or equal to one, and M is a number greater than or equal to one.

In one embodiment, the optical relay 1010 is a TRIAC. In other embodiments, the optical relay 1010 is another transistor device. In other embodiments, the optical relay 1010 is another type of relay configured to isolate the processor 1002 from the incoming AC power and the outgoing AC power to the AC receptacles 1014. The optical relay 1010 is optional in some embodiments.

The AC to DC regulator 1012 receives AC power and converts the AC power to DC power. The converted DC power is transmitted to the linear regulator 1016 and to the DC to DC regulator 1018. In one embodiment, the AC to DC regulator 1012 converts 120 volt AC (VAC) power to 24 volt DC (VDC) power.

The AC receptacles 1014 are configured to transmit power from the ASPS 102G to one or more electrical devices connected to the AC receptacles. The AC receptacles 1014 include one or more AC receptacles. In one embodiment, a single AC receptacle is included in the ASPS 102G. In another embodiment, 8 AC receptacles are included in the ASPS 102G. In another embodiment, N AC receptacles are included in the ASPS 102G, where N is a number greater than or equal to one.

In one embodiment, the AC receptacles 1014 include one or more 3-prong AC receptacles. In another embodiment, the AC receptacles 1014 include one or more 2-prong AC receptacles. Other embodiments include other types of AC receptacles. The AC receptacles 1014 are optional in some embodiments.

In one embodiment, an optional switch (not shown) is included between the optical relay 1010 and the AC receptacles 1014. The optional switch enables a user to turn a selected one or more of the AC receptacles 1014 on or off. In one example, each optional switch includes one of the indicators 1024.

The linear regulator 1016 converts the DC power received from the AC to DC regulator 1012 to DC voltages required by other components in the ASPS 102G. The linear regulator 1016 provides DC voltage to integrated circuits, linear components, and other components in the ASPS 102G. In one example, the linear regulator 1016 down converts the 24 VDC voltage received from the AC to DC regulator 1012 and transmits the down-converted DC voltage to the processor 1002, the optical relay 1010, the modulator 1020, the memory 1022, the indicators 1024, the reset controller 1026, and the communication system 1028. In one embodiment, the linear regulator 1016 outputs 5 volts DC to one or more components of the ASPS 102G. In another embodiment, the linear regulator 1016 outputs N volts DC to one or more components of the ASPS 102G, where N is a number greater than or equal to 0.001.

The DC to DC regulator 1018 provides DC power to the DC receptacles 1030 at one or more voltage levels. In one example, the DC to DC regulator 1018 is an adjustable switching regulator configured to convert the 24 VDC incoming power to on

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