Ric Richardson files patent for location system using sound waves




Today I filed a patent for an application of Sonar that I think is very promising.. Yes Sonar, like the way bats navigate, but different in that my technique does not use echoes.

Basically the idea is more like GPS. With GPS, the ID of the satellite and the time stamp from each satellite along with the satellites location above the earth is sent out for people to navigate by.

Since all the satellites use the same time reference, the device you are using simply measures the time it takes for each time signal to get to your device at the speed of light and using triangulation principles to know pretty accurately where you are on the earth’s surface.

A really good explanation of the principle can be seen at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System#Basic_concept_of_GPS

About 14 months ago I started working on the idea of using a similar system but using sound waves instead of line-of-sight radio waves for triangulation in smaller spaces...

See this blog entry from back then:

It explained that using sound rather than radio waves enables the receivers to be much more accurate since they are limited to how fast they can track the movement of signals.

That work bore fruit today when I filed the patent entitled System for the use of Sound to accurately calculate Location.

It describes an adaptation of the principles of GPS but applied to Sound and using smart devices and audio broadcasting systems instead of satellites.

Here is a scenario.

You are at a concert as you wait for the show to start the sound system for the show is broadcasting a series of tones through each speaker from the stage. The left, centre and right speakers all send out tones which can be read by your iPhone as timing and location information.

The tones can be anything that makes sense to the phone... an old modem tone, a telephone tone (ie dial 1 etc) or something new like the 17+ kilohertz systems being experimented with lately. Even a predetermined set of tones that the phone expects can be used.

Your iPhone’s microphone hears the messages and a location app calculates its relative location from the three speakers using the location information of each speaker (that it sent as part of the audio) and the time it took the audio to get to your phone.

Now you know where you are exactly in the auditorium... Big Deal?

Well it starts to get interesting when you find one of your FaceBook friends is exactly 4o meters away sitting off to your right!

And that the nearest toilet is behind you to the left. And that two seats towards the front have not been claimed and that you have won a random prize to upgrade to them if you chose to... this is really getting fun.

Industry wide, this approach can be used for many applications.

  • If used from user to user, a group sitting within earshot of each other can be individually identified and specifically located.
  • Starbucks can identify a specific person to deliver that latte to. Every table and every seat in a restaurant can be linked to an order and a specific dish...
  • ... in fact the more I think about it, this Sonar Positioning System (yeah I'm calling it that.. SPS get it!) could easily be positioned as a location system sitting between the global measurements of GPS and the product specific measurements of RFID... but with SPS all you need is a phone with a speaker and a microphone.. pretty cool.

People that could be interested in this include:

  • Apple: as a catchup tech avoid adding RFID hardware
  • Google: As a location system to add to its recent initiative to map out internal buildings and locations.
  • Techno savvy musicians and artists who want to involve their audiences in their performances.
  • Promoters of big events and conferences.
  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • In fact all the social apps that want to connect people in sub GPS location measurement distances... or anywhere indoors.

This project has been interesting but does not tip the scale as a primary invention for me so I am making the patent and its rights available for purchase.

The package includes:

  • Research and proofs
  • Prior art search (informal by me)
  • Patent filing, drawings and specification
  • Patent execution strategy paper.
  • Product development strategy paper
  • A patent and invention rights assignment
If you are interested or know someone who is interested please email me at ricricho at gmail dot com. There is also an agents fee available to people who want to manage an introduction to a buyer, however please note, Id like to keep the deal simple so I can move on to other projects and stick to working on the big projects that make a big difference. Thanks for your interest.

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