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Title:
COMPUTER-IMPLEMENTED METHOD FOR OPERATING A DISTRIBUTED SERVICE POINT NETWORK, A SERVER AND A USER APPLICATION THEREFORE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/161873
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a computer-implemented method for operating a distributed network of service points having a service point ID for allocation of parcels. The method comprises acts of assigning parcel locker(s) to the distributed service point network, each parcel locker being a service point, comprising one or more compartments and a service point ID, assigning user(s) to the distributed service point network and using piece IDs for each parcel being allocated in the distributed service point network. The method further comprises an act of communicating electronic tokens to a service point, wherein the electronic tokens are communicated via a user application to the service point; a method wherein the user application is adapted to be installed on a mobile smart device. The present invention further relates to a server, a server program and using a user application for carrying out the method acts.

Inventors:
DEUTSCH, Miriam Bartholdy (Havbo 10, 6470 Sydals, 6470, DK)
KACZMAREK, Allan (Vandmøllevej 12, 6400 Sønderborg, 6400, DK)
Application Number:
DK2019/050071
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 22, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SWIPBOX A/S (Ellegårdvej 7, 6400 Sønderborg, 6400, DK)
International Classes:
G06Q10/08; G07F17/12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATRADE A/S (Ceresbyen 75, 8000 Aarhus C, 8000, DK)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Computer-implemented method (100) for operating a distributed network (400) of service points (20) having a service point ID (24) for allocation of parcels 40, com prising acts of:

- assigning (102) parcel !ocker(s) (200) to the distributed service point network (400), each parcel locker (200) being a service point (20), comprising one or more compart ments (212) and a sendee point ID (24);

- assigning (102) user(s) (410) to the distributed service point network (400);

- using (1 16) piece IDs (42) for each parcel (40) being allocated in the distributed ser- vice point network (400); and

- communicating (150) electronic tokens (10) to a sendee point (20), wherein the elec tronic tokens (10) are communicated (150) via a user application (90) to the sendee point (20), using a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system (182) for communicating (150) the electronic tokens (10) to/from the user application (90) and a communication standard of a wireless personal area network (184), for communicating (150) the electronic tokens (10) between the user application (90) and the service point (20), such that the user application (90) acts as a signal transformer (98) for the electronic tokens (10), said electronic tokens (10) include user electronic tokens (50), synchronization electronic tokens (60) and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens (70), each of said user electronic tokens (50) is transmitted to the sendee point (20) via a single user application (90), each of said synchronization electronic tokens (60) received (106) from the sendee point (20) and/or each of said acknowledgement electronic tokens (70) transmitted (110) to the service point (20), are communicated by one or more user applications (90) in a dis- tributed network for user applications.

2. Computer-implemented method (100) according to claim 1, wherein

- the user electronic token (50) is tagged with a sendee point ID (24) and comprises a piece ID (42) and instructions (52) of a user event (54);

- the synchronization electronic token (60) comprises a sequence number (58) and a piece ID (42); and

- the acknowledgement electronic token (70) being a handshake for the received syn chronization electronic token (60).

3. Computer-implemented method (100), according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a further act of creating (104) a record entry (160) for a received synchronization electronic token (60).

4. Computer-implemented method (100), according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising further acts of creating (104) user groups (420) and assigning (102) the users (410) to one or more user groups (420).

5. Computer-implemented method (100), according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a further act of appointing (114) one or more compartments (212) to one or more users (410) and/or user groups (420).

6. Computer-implemented method (100), according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a further act of:

- assigning (102) a parcel locker owner (430) of a parcel locker (200), and a land owner (432) of a piece of land (440), whereon the parcel locker (200) is installed.

7. A server (30), comprising processor means (320) for carrying out the computer- implemented method (100) of any one of claims 1-6.

8. A server program (300), comprising instructions which, when the server program (300) is executed by the server (30), cause the server to carry out the computer- implemented method (100) of any one of claims 1-6.

9. A computer-readable medium (310), comprising instructions which, when executed by the server (30), cause the server (30) to carry out the method of any one of claims 1 6

10. Computer-implemented method (100) according to any one of claims 1-6 compris ing a step of installing said user application (90) on a mobile smart device (92), com prising a mobile smart device processor (94), which user application (90) comprises instructions which, when the user application (90) is executed by said mobile smart device processor (94), cause the mobile smart device processor (94) to carry out the method act(s), according to claim 1 of: - communicating (190) electronic tokens (10) to a service point (20), using the com munication standard of a wireless personal area network (184) and/or communicating (190) electronic tokens (10) to the server (30), using the communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system (182).

11. Computer-implemented method (100), according to claim 10, comprising a step of configuring the user application(s) (90) for one or more user groups (420).

Description:
Computer-implemented method for operating a distributed service point network, a server and a user application therefore

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a computer-implemented method for operating a dis tributed network of service points having a service point ID for allocation of parcels. The method comprises acts of assigning parcel locker(s) to the distributed service point network, each parcel locker being a service point, comprising one or more com partments and a sendee point ID, assigning user(s) to the distributed service point network and using piece IDs for each parcel being allocated in the distributed service point network. The method further comprises an act of communicating electronic to kens to a sendee point, wherein the electronic tokens are communicated via a user application to the service point; a method wherein the user application is adapted to be installed on a mobile smart device. The present invention further relates to a server, a server program and using a user application for earning out the method acts.

The distribution and allocation of parcels typically involves multiple partners in the process from the time the consignor or consignee/receiver of the parcel orders a parcel delivery until the consignee receives the parcel. The involved partners may include multiple couriers, postal or logistics providers. In addition; the process may include multiple acts of handling the parcel. This may include acts of transporting, receiving, delivering or handing out the parcel, and storing the parcel. In general, the distribution and allocation of parcels is continuously being optimized to include lower storage time and less manual handling.

Especially the distribution and allocation of parcels on an ad hoc basis, where the con signor and consignee do not have regular or large shipments, e.g. weekly or daily de- livery of large shipments from company to company, is generally changing to include an assigned pick-up place or service point, where the consignee can pick up the parcel within a given time interval. The number of serviced postal offices for handing out parcels is decreasing and the serviced postal offices are being replaced by self-service parcel lockers. The self- service parcel lockers may have a lower storage capacity than the postal offices but may be distributed more broadly to generate more delivery and/or pick-up places.

Today, parcel lockers typically communicate directly with a server using systems for mobile telecommunication, such as GSM, UTMS or comparable systems. The systems may use WLAN, wireless access points or hard- wired connections to the internet. Fur thermore, the parcel lockers today typically comprise a display and an input unit, which may be a key pad, a scanner or a touch screen to display information and/or guide the user of the delivery or pick-up event, which often includes entering a code for the parcel delivery or parcel pick-up event.

The operation of the parcel lockers is dependent on a continuous and stable operated mobile telecommunication system and/or internet connection, and thus, the location of the parcel lockers should be chosen accordingly.

Furthermore, the parcel lockers are typically installed with a hard wired power con nection to provide sufficient power to the operation of the parcel locker, to power the display and/or the input units, as well as the data communication. This further incites the user to choose the location of the parcel lockers accordingly. Furthermore, as the parcel lockers are typically electronically operated, a continuous and stable power supply is required.

This may present obstacles in regard to achieving an even and fine distribution mesh of parcel lockers, where the parcel lockers can be placed as freely as possible in any location and in a fast yet reliable manner, even though there may exist unstable infra structure with poor mobile telecommunication systems, internet connections and/or unstable power supply.

US2015356801 discloses a storage system that can be accessed by a mobile device. The mobile device creates a communication bridge between the storage system and an external (management) server. The system can be used for leasing rental units that are locked to a storage system, such that a sender and a receiver via a mobile smart device can access the rental unit. The communication is performed via a single mobile de vice, where the communication can be divided into two phases, either the external server or the storage system. A status update can be sent in a communication from the mobile device to the external server, such that it is updated.

US 2017/0262800 discloses a mailbox, to which several different users can have elec tronic access via communication from a mobile device. Communication concerning delivery and collection of a package to the mailbox is communicated via a mobile device to an external server. Object of the Invention

It is an objective to overcome one or more of the before mentioned shortcomings of the prior art.

An object of the invention may be achieved by a computer-implemented method for operating a distributed network of service points having a service point ID for alloca tion of parcels. The method comprises acts of assigning parcel locker(s) to the distrib uted service point network, each parcel locker being a sendee point, comprising one or more compartments and a sendee point ID, assigning user(s) to the distributed ser vice point network and using piece IDs for each parcel being allocated in the distribut- ed service point network. The method further comprises an act of communicating electronic tokens to a service point, wherein the electronic tokens are communicated via a user application to the service point, using a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system for communicating the elec tronic tokens to/from the user application and a communication standard of a wireless personal area network (WPAN) for communicating the electronic tokens between the user application and the service point, such that the user application acts as a signal transformer for the communication of the electronic tokens.

The electronic tokens may include user electronic tokens, synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens. Each user electronic token may be transmitted to the sendee point via a single user application. Each synchronization electronic token may be received from the service point. Each acknowledgement electronic token may be transmitted to the service point.

The synchronization electronic tokens and/or the acknowledgement electronic tokens may be communicated by one or more user applications in a distributed network of user applications.

For each user electronic token, one or more synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens may be piggybacked by one or more user applica tions in a distributed network of user applications.

For each user electronic token, multiple synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens may be received and transmitted by a distributed network of user applications. The multiple synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens for each user electronic token may be identical copies lienee the multiple syn chronization electronic tokens may be identical and the acknowledgement electronic tokens may be identical. The method may be described as the user electronic token being piggybacked to the service point in a point-to-point connection using a preferred path, whereas the synchronization and acknowledgement electronic tokens may be piggybacked from/to the service point in a point-to-point connection using distributed paths laid out by a distributed network of user application.

The piggybacking of the synchronization and acknowledgement tokens may be com parable to‘Round Robin’-distribution versus‘preferred path’ -distribution of the user electronic tokens, however without using a determined order, but instead using a‘pre ferred path’ for the user e-token and one or more‘arbitrary paths’ for the synchroniza tion and acknowledgement tokens. Service points refer to facilities for delivery of and picking up parcels.

User application is used for an application program adapted to be installed and exe cuted by a smart device.

In the following, electronic token may be referred to as e-token.

The piece ID may be a global unique identifier (GUID) assigned to each parcel being allocated in the distributed sendee point network.

Each parcel locker may thus facilitate a sendee point. Other alternatives for sendee points may include serviced facilities, such as postal offices, service counters operat- ing in other areas than postal logistics, or the li e.

The parcel lockers provide unstaffed sendee points which may eliminate costs for the day-to-day running. Furthermore, unstaffed sendee points may have the advantage of achieving a fine distribution mesh of service points, where the capacity of each service point may be reduced, due to the higher number of sendee points. Furthermore, it may entail sendee points located in more remote areas.

Due to the character of the service points being a location for deliver} of or picking up a. physical parcel, and the fact that the communication with the individual service points are conducted via user applications, one effect of this method may be that the holder of the e-token is at the location of the parcel locker for the parcel deliver} or pick-up. This may be advantageous in regard to only requiring a single communica tion connection and a limited communication range.

The service point ID may be a GUID. Each service point may thus have a GUID in form of the service point ID.

One effect of this method may be that the server may eliminate any communication directly to the service point and only communicate with a user application installed on a mobile smart device, which then communicates with the service point. This may be advantageous in regard to eliminating the need for internet coverage at the location of the sendee point.

For wireless personal area networks (WPAN) especially two kinds of wireless technologies are used today: Bluetooth and near field communication (NFC). A key concept in WPAN technology is the concept of plugging in, which may en sure that when any two WPAN-equipped devices come into close proximity (within several meters of each other), they may communicate as if connected by a cable. Another important feature is the ability' of each device to lock out other de- vices selectively, preventing unnecessary' interference or unauthorized access to information.

Especially the Bluetooth standard may transfer data relatively fast with low power consumption. In addition, the quiescent current is very low. Furthermore, a Bluetooth communication unit is a very' common unit in mobile smart devices, where the unit may have a communication range from a few meters and beyond. Other communica tion standards for WPAN with the same characteristics of low' power consumption and a limited communication range may be used. Furthermore, the communication stand ard may generally be widely used and implemented in mobile smart devices. This has the advantage of easy access to implementation and use of the method.

Thus, a further effect of the method, using a WPAN connection, may be that the communication between the user application/mobile smart device and the sendee point is low power consuming communication, this being advantageous in regard to reducing the power consumption by the sendee point. As the mobile smart device is used‘on the go’, the use of a WPAN connection may also be an advantage as it entails low' power consumption by the mobile smart device.

A further effect of the embodiment may be that the mobile smart devices do not access the content of the e-tokens but only carries or piggybacks the e-tokens, which may be advantageous, both in regard to the robustness of the parcel alloca tion system and the mobile smart device. A robust system may refer to a system with a high security against hacking. A robust system may also refer to a system with a high level of redundancy.

The embodiment may have the further effect of achieving a real-time communication with the service point through a third party’s mobile smart device installed with the user application. This may for example be relevant if a courier, a maintenance proles- sional, a consignee, a consignor or another party requires help or guidance from a support employee. The support employee may then in real-time communicate with the service point by transmitting and/or receiving e-tokens. A real-time communication requires that the mobile smart device to be used has data connection. The real-time communication may include tasks such as requiring a status log from a parcel locker, opening a door to a compartment of a parcel locker or comparable tasks. These are merely examples and should be read as such.

The parcel locker may comprise a unique encryption key and a unique sendee point ID. The parcel locker may be hard-coded with these data.

An effect of this further embodiment may be that the encryption key is not transmitted to and/or from the parcel locker with the advantage of mitigating any risk of hacking the parcel locker or the user e-tokens. A further advantage is that in case one encryp tion key may be decoded only a single parcel locker may be affected.

A further object of the invention may be achieved by the computer-implemented method, wherein each e-token is a user e-token tagged with a service point ID com prising a piece ID and instruction of a user event, a synchronization e-token compris ing a sequence number and a piece ID, or an acknowledgement e-token, wherein the user e-token is transmitted to the service point, the synchronization e-token is received from the service point and the acknowledgement e-token is transmitted to the service point being a handshake for the received synchronization electronic token.

The method may constitute a part of a method for a distributed architecture for alloca- tion of parcels, adapted to a system wherein the parcels are allocated by couriers (the courier may be part of a professional courier service provider) from a parcel consignor to a parcel locker, from a parcel locker to a parcel consignee and/or from one parcel locker to another parcel locker.

Instruction of a user event refers to the instruction to be performed by the holder of the user e-token. This may be delivery' of a parcel, pick-up of a parcel or other events which may be relevant. One effect of this embodiment is that the user e-token may comprise all the infor mation and instructions regarding the parcel. Thus, only a single holder of the data and a single communication connection is required between the parcel locker and the holder of the user e-token. The holder of the user e-token may be a consignor of a par cel, a consignee, a courier or maintenance professional. This is not an exhaustive list and may only serve as examples.

Furthermore, due to the character of the user e-token, only a limited dataset is trans ferred.

A further effect of the sendee point ID may be that only a holder of a user e-token tagged with a servi ce point ID, matching the service point ID of the service point, may establish a WPAN communication. This may be advantageous in regard to ensuring selective communication only with a service point with an identical service point ID to prevent unnecessary interference or unauthorized access to information. The user e-token is the access key, so to speak.

Yet a further effect of the method may be that the communication is performed with out accessing the content of the user e-token, which may be advantageous both in regard to the robustness of the parcel allocation system and the mobile smart de- vice.

A robust system may refer to a system with a high security against hacking. A robust system may also refer to a system with a high level of redundancy.

The selective WPAN connection may be especially advantageous when the sendee point is a parcel locker being unattended. In one aspect, the user e-token may be further transmitted from one holder to another. Hereby, it may be achieved that the first receiver of the user e-token may transfer the user e-token to a trusted person to perform the actual parcel pick-up or delivery' in stead of the recipien t himself.

The synchronization e-token may be generated in response to a received user e-token.

An effect of this further embodiment may be that the status of the service points may be updated by use of these synchronization e-tokens for an optimized utilization rate of the service points.

Equivalent to the communication of the user e-token, the communication of the syn chronization e-token may be transmitted to a single receiver of the data, using a single communication connection between the service point and the receiver of the data.

The synchronization e-token may not be tagged with a service point ID, and may therefore be transmitted from the service point, using an already established WPAN connection. The established WPAN connection may, as previously de scribed, be established to a holder of a user e-token tagged with a service point ID matching the service point ID of the service point. However, the user e-token may be a different user e-token than the user e-token to which the synchronization e- token is a response to. Hence, a synchronization e-token may only be transmitted to a holder of any user e-token, which has gained WPAN access to the sendee point.

One advantage of this embodiment is that the method may entail transmitting the syn chronization e-token immediately, using the established WPAN connection by the user e-token to which the synchronization e-token is a reply, or it may be transmitted using a later established WPAN connection. Hence, the method provides resending the synchronization e-tokens. Furthermore, the method entails piggybacking of the synchronization e-token from the service point to for example a server, where the sta tus of one or more parcel lockers may be monitored and updated being advantageous in a distributed network of multiple sendee points. In one aspect, the performed instructions may be numbered with sequential numbers for each service point or for the individual piece IDs and stored by that service point.

In a further aspect, the transmitted synchronization e-tokens may comprise a row of consecutive events and the associated numbers for the associated service point. By numbering the performed instructions, a correct status of all service points may be ensured.

The use of piggybacking may result in that a synchronization e-token to be communi- cated to for example a server, may not reach the sewer at all, or may reach the server long after the instruction has been performed. By enclosing a number of consecutively performed parcel locker instructions and the associated sequence numbers in one or more synchronization e-tokens, the later generated synchronization e-tokens to be received by the sewer may compensate for a lost or late-received synchronization e- token.

The acknowledgment e-token may be received in response to a transmitted synchroni zation e-token, thereby establishing a handshake confirming that the synchronization e-token has been received.

Equivalent to the communication of the user e-token and the synchronization e-token, the communication of the acknowledgment e-token may be received from a single holder of the data, using a single communication connection between the service point and the holder of the e-token.

The acknowledgment e-token may not be tagged with a service point ID, and may therefore he transmitted to the parcel locker using an already established WPAN connection. The established WPAN connection may, as previously described, be established to a holder of a user e-token tagged with a service point ID matching the service point ID of the parcel locker. However, the user e-token may be a dif ferent user e-token than that to which the synchronization e-token and the ac knowledgment e-token is a response and a handshake, respectively. Hence, an acknowledgement e-token may only be received from a holder of any user e-token, which have gained WPAN access to the service point. One advantage of this embodiment is that the method may provide transmitting the acknowledgement e-token with holders of subsequent user e-tokens for accessing the same sendee point. Hence, the method entails resending the acknowledgement e- token. Furthermore, the method entails piggybacking of the acknowledgement e-token from for example a server to the service point as a handshake from the server that the synchronization e-token has been received.

The use of piggybacking may result in that an acknowledgement e-token to be com municated from for example a server, may not reach the service point at all, or may reach the service point long after the instruction has been performed. Therefore, the sending of an acknowledgement e-token may be relevant in regard to achieving a robust system with a high level of redundancy.

An effect of the method may be that the holder of the e-tokens may not access the content of the e-tokens, which may be advantageous both in regard to the robust ness of the system and of the holder of the e-tokens. A robust system may refer to a system with a high security against hacking. A robust system may also refer to a system with a high level of redundancy. In one aspect, a further object of the invention may be achieved by the method where in one or more categories of the e-tokens are encrypted with a service point encryption key associated with the sendee point of the comprised sendee point ID.

An effect of the further embodiment may be that the encryption key is not transmitted to and/or from the service point with the advantage of mitigating any risk of hacking the sendee point or the e-tokens. A further advantage is that in case one encryption key may be decoded, only one sendee point may be affected.

In one aspect, the server may store a copy of the user e-token until the handshake for the received synchronization e-token is performed.

In one embodiment of the method an authentication may be performed between the service point and the user application for transmitting the user e-token. The authenti cation may be performed after the WPAN connection is established between the user application and the se dee point but before transmittal of the user e-token to the ser vice point.

The authentication may comprise transfer of a challenge from the user application to the service point, transfer of a challenge key from the service point to the user applica tion and a subsequent act of comparing the challenge and the challenge key performed by the user application, which then if the challenge and the challenge key match au tomatically transmits the user e-token.

A further object of the invention may be achieved by the computer-implemented method, comprising a further act of creating a record entry for a received synchroniza tion e-token.

One effect of this embodiment may he that a record with continuously updated status of each service points’ capacity may be obtained, thereby using the service points effi ciently to achieve a high occupancy rate.

A further object of the invention may be achieved by the computer-implemented method, comprising the further acts of creating user groups and assigning the users to one or more user groups.

The user groups may comprise senders of a parcel, receivers of a parcel, a professional courier service, the individual couriers of a professional courier service or mainte nance professionals who maintain the service points. This is not an exhaustive list and may only serve as examples.

One effect of this further embodiment may be that users of the system may be as signed to user groups with different access rights to the service points. This may be especially relevant for service points comprising parcel lockers. This embodiment may be advantageous in regard to obtaining a robust and secure system, where for example maintenance providers or professional couriers may gain access to parts of the service point with special features. This could for example be special storage fea tures, maintenance access to the electronic parts of a parcel locker or the like - features which an‘ad-hoc user’ may not have any interest in accessing. This may be advanta geous in regard to assigning for example a team of maintenance professionals to a network with common access rights. Another example could be to assign all the indi- vidual couriers of a professional courier service common to one group, thereby ensur ing that all the individual couriers have the same access rights.

Another effect of this further embodiment may be that users of the system may be assigned to user groups, who receive additional information of the parcel and/or in struction of a user event. This may be advantageous in regard to performing mainte nance on the service point, where the maintenance may receive guidance for the maintenance task.

In a further embodiment, the computer-implemented method comprises a further act of appointing one or more compartments to one or more users and/or user groups.

This embodiment may, as the previous, be especially relevant for service points com prising parcel lockers, due to the unattended status of these.

One effect of this further embodiment may be that users of the system may be as signed to user groups, who have access to a limited number of sendee points, access to limited sendee points’ capacities and/or has exclusive rights to specific service points’ capacities. This may be advantageous in regard to differentiating the access for different customer groups.

Another effect, as previously described, may be that some user groups may gain maintenance access to the electronic parts of a parcel locker or the like - features which an‘ad-hoc user’ may not have any interest in accessing. This may be advanta geous in regard to assigning for example a team of maintenance professionals to a network with common access rights.

These access rights may be comprised in the user e-token comprising instruction of user events which may be different for delivery' of and picking up parcels. These in structions may give the maintenance professionals access to other elements at the ser vice point than other users. Thus, the maintenance professionals may not require any keys and/or special codes of accessing the service point elements for maintenance, which aids for distributing the maintenance tasks to multiple maintenance profession als. This further aids for hiring maintenance professionals on an ad-hoc basis for the maintenance tasks

A further object of the invention may be achieved by the computer-implemented method, comprising a further act of assigning a parcel locker owner of a parcel locker, and a land owner of a piece of land, whereon the parcel locker is installed. This further embodiment may have the effect that the parcel locker may be owned by an owner different from the operator of the distributed service point netwOrk.

This further embodiment may have the effect that the parcel locker may be located on a piece of land owned by a land owner different from the operator of the distributed service point network and/or different from the parcel locker owner.

This may be advantageous in regard to achieving a broader distribution and/or finer mesh of the parcel lockers. E.g. in urban areas where there may not be any available sites for placing a parcel locker, this embodiment may lead land owners to rent out a small site for a parcel locker.

In one aspect, the one or more compartments of the parcel locker may be reach- through compartments having two doors. The two doors may be a front-end door and a back-end door, respectively. Each of the front-end door and the back-end door may be provided with a mechanical lock. One effect of having compartments with front- end and back-end doors may be that the parcel locker can be loaded accordingly, which may be advantageous in regard to loading and/or unloading from a restricted access area to a public access area.

In one aspect, the parcel locker may comprise one or more doors. Each door may be selected from a group consisting of a sliding door, roll-up door, folding door, accordi on door, gate and cabinet door. The door may have any size. The size may be a size generally referred to as port or gate sizes, typically measured in metres and/or decime tres, and down to sizes generally referred to as cabinet or locker door sizes, typically measured in decimetres and/or centimetres. One effect of this embodiment may be to customize the parcel locker to the types and sizes of parcel being handled. In one case the parcels may be of a size and/or weight requiring benefitting from an easy access at floor level. In another case, the parcels may be handled by fork lifts to reduce the workload of the consignor and/or the consignee and thus, the size of the doors should accommodate for that.

Alternatively, the parcel locker may be customized to the surrounding conditions ex isting at the location of the parcel locker. In one case, the parcel locker may be ex- posed for a windy environment. In such case, and in combination with large size com partments, a folding or sliding door may be advantageous instead of a hinged type solid door to reduce mechanical wear and tear.

The present invention relates to different aspects. One aspect is the method described above, other aspects may include devices, user applications and systems each yielding one or more of the effects and advantages described in connection with the already mentioned aspect, i.e. the method and the embodiments of this described above. Each aspect may have embodiments, corresponding to the embodiments described in con nection with the other mentioned aspect.

An object of the invention may be achieved by a server, comprising processor means for carrying out the computer-implemented method for operating a distributed net work of sendee points for allocation of parcels.

This embodiment may further support the effects and advantages of the distributed service network and the method for operating the distributed service point network as described above.

An object of the invention may be achieved by a server program, comprising instruc tions which, when the server progra is executed by the server, cause the server to cany out the computer-implemented method for operating a distributed service point network. This embodiment may further support the effects and advantages of the distributed service point network and the method for operating the distributed service point net work as described above.

In one aspect, the server program may comprise an application programming interface (API) The interface may provide for an assigned user to access information of rele vant sendee point capacity and/or parcels, to which the assigned user has been accord ed access. A professional service provider may use this embodiment for carrying out their parcel allocations, which may include further features such as track-and-trace of parcels, cancelation and changing parcel allocations. This entails that an assigned user of the distributed service point network may apply their own interface, using the data of the system available from the server program. Examples of assigned users/user groups could be a professional courier service provider, a maintenance provider - these are merely examples and should be read as only that.

An object of the invention may be achieved by a computer-readable medium, com prising instructions which, when executed by the server, cause the server to cany ' out the computer-implemented method for operating a distributed sendee point network. This embodiment may further support the effects and advantages of the distributed service point network and the method for operating the distributed service point network as described above.

An object of the invention may be achieved by the computer-implemented method comprising a step of installing said user application on a mobile smart device, com prising a mobile smart device processor, which user application comprises instructions which, when the user application is executed by the mobile smart device processor, cause the mobile smart device processor to carry out the method act(s) of communi cating e-tokens to a service point, using the communication standard of a WPAN and/or communicating e-tokens to the server using the communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system.

This embodiment may have effects and advantages in line with those previously de scribed in connection with communication of the e-tokens to and from the server, which may include the use of a mobile smart device for carrying and transmitting - or piggybacking - the communicated data, including:

® The service point may only need to communicate with a mobile smart device within a short distance, thereby enabling the use of a low power consuming da ta communication connection.

• The communication between the service point and the user application may not require any internet connection at the service point location, thereby avoid ing adding any extra power load to the mobile smart device with the installed user application when collecting or delivering a parcel. A more power consum ing communication with the server may be performed at a later time.

® The user application only sends the e-token to an associated service point and only piggybacks small amounts of data from the service point to the server.

® The parcel consignor or consignee may use the user application installed on a mobile smart device when picking up or delivering a parcel and hence, already has the user application program activated when picking up or delivering the parcel, and the piggybacking of one or more synchronization e-tokens and/or acknowledgement e-tokens may not include any further actions from the recip ient Furthermore, the e-tokens may be passive and/or encrypted data, and therefore do not add any further risk to the users mobile smart device.

® The use of piggybacking may result in that a synchronization e-token to be communicated from the service point to for example a server via the user ap plication program may not reach the server at all or may reach the server long after the instruction has been performed. But this may be accounted for by transmitting several synchronization e-tokens comprising overlapping infor mation Or by transmitting the same synchronization e-token to multiple user applications.

In a further embodiment the computer-implemented method comprises a step of con figuring the user application for one or more user groups.

This embodiment may further support the effects and advantages of the method for operating the distributed service point network with different user groups as previous ly described. In one aspect the user application may be configured as a software development kit.

One effect may be that the user application may be implemented in third parties’ ap- plications, which may be advantageous in regard to incorporating the user application in an OEM product by a broad range of service providers. A further advantage may be reaching an extended range of possible users, who do not need to actively install the application before accessing the services provided by the method and/or system. Yet a further advantage may be that the mobile smart device owner may need less installed applications. Due to the character of the e-tokens, which access may not be accessed by the user application, the security of the disclosed method and/or system and the mobile smart device is not jeopardized.

This disclosure can advantageously be combined with one or more of the following six disclosures. Furthermore, the following six disclosures can be combined with each other.

A first disclosure may be use of a mobile smart device installed with a user applica tion in a system comprising a server and one or more service points for transmitting e- tokens between the server and a sendee point. A use which includes using a commu nication standard for a data transmission supporting mobile communication system for communicating the e-tokens to the server, and using a communication standard of a WPAN for communicating the e-tokens to the sendee point, such that the user appli cation acts as a signal transformer for the e-tokens being piggybacked by the user ap plication between the server and the service point, which use is for a parcel allocation system.

A second disclosure may be a computer-implemented method for allocation of parcels to one or more sendee points comprising acts of receiving e-tokens using a first com munication standard, and transmitting e-tokens, using a second communication stand ard enabling a communication direction. A method wherein the first communication standard is a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile com munication system, and the second communication standard is a communication standard of a WPAN in a communication direction being a sendee point communica tion direction, and the first communication standard is a communication standard of a WPAN, and the second communication standard is a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system in a communication di rection being a server communication direction. A third disclosure may be a method for operating a door having a mechanical lock of a parcel locker compartment, comprised in a parcel locker having a service point ID. The method comprises the acts of transmitting beacon signals, comprising the service point ID and receiving a user e-token tagged with a matching service point ID, com prising a piece ID and instruction of a user event. The method further comprises the acts of creating a parcel locker command for the received instructions and transmitting a parcel locker command signal for the parcel locker command for operating a lock. A method wherein the user e-token is received using a communication standard of a

A fourth disclosure may he use of a distributed network of mobile smart devices in stalled with a user application in a system comprising a server and one or more service points for transmitting electronic tokens between the server and a sendee point. A use which includes using a communication standard for a data transmission supporting mobile communication system for communicating the electronic tokens to the server, and using a communication standard of a wireless personal area network for com municating the electronic tokens to the sendee point, such that the user application acts as a signal transformer for the electronic tokens being piggybacked by the user application between the server and the sendee point. The electronic tokens may in clude user electronic tokens, synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowl edge- ment electronic tokens. For each user electronic token, one or more synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens may be piggybacked by one or more user applications of the distributed network of mobile smart devices. The use may be for a parcel allocation system A fifth disclosure may be a computer-implemented method for operating a system for allocation of parcels to one or more service points. The computer-implemented meth od may comprise acts of receiving electronic tokens using one communication stand ard, and transmitting electronic tokens using another communication standard. The method may further comprise an act of enabling a communication direction. The communication standards may be a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system and a communication standard of a wireless personal area network.

One communication direction may be a service point communication direction, where the electronic tokens may be received using the communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communication system and transmitted using the communication standard of a wireless personal area network. Another communication direction may be a server communication direction, where the electronic tokens may be received using the communication standard of a wireless personal area network and transmitted using the communication standard of a data transmission supporting mo- bile communication system.

The electronic tokens mav include user electronic tokens, synchronization electronic tokens and/or acknowledgement electronic tokens. The receiver and transmitter of a user electronic token may be a singled out node communicating in a service point communication direction. The receiver and transmitter of a synchronization electronic token may be any one of multiple distributed nodes communicating in a server com munication direction. The receiver and transmitter of an acknowledgement electronic token may be any one of multiple distributed nodes communicating in a sendee point communication direction .

A sixth disclosure may be a method for operating a door having a mechanical lock of a parcel locker compartment, comprised in a parcel locker having a sendee point ID. The method may comprise the acts of transmitting beacon signals, comprising the service point ID and receiving a user electronic token tagged with a matching service point ID, comprising a piece ID and instruction of a user event. The method may fur ther comprise the acts of creating a parcel locker command for the received instruc tions and transmitting a parcel locker command signal for the parcel locker command for operating a lock. A method wherein the user electronic token may be received us ing a communication standard of a wireless personal area network. The method may comprise further acts of generating a sequence number for the instruction of the user event, generating a synchronization electronic token, comprising the sequence number and the piece ID, transmitting the synchronization electronic token and receiving an acknowledgment electronic token.

Description of the Drawing

Figure 1 illustrates two embodiments of the computer-implemented method for oper ating a distributed service point network.

Figure 2 illustrates further embodiments of the computer-implemented method for operating a distributed service point network.

Figure 3 illustrates even further embodiments of the computer-implemented method for operating a distributed service point network.

Figure 4 illustrates one embodiment of the distributed service point network.

Detailed Description of the Invention

Figure 1 illustrates two embodiments of the computer-implemented method 100 for operating a distributed service point network. The distributed network may comprise multiple service points 20 and multiple users. The method 100 in figure 1A illustrates how e-tokens 10 are communicated 150 to a service point 20 via a user application 90, using a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile communi cation system 182 for communicating 150 the e-tokens 10 to/from the user application 90. Another communication standard, namely a communication standard of a WPAN 184 is used for communication 150 of the e-tokens 10 between the user application 90 and the service point 20. The user application 90 thus works as a signal transformer 98 for the e-tokens 10.

Figure IB illustrates the method 100, wherein the e-tokens include user e-tokens 50, synchronization e-tokens 60 and acknowledgement e-tokens 70. The user e-token 50 is transmitted 1 10 to the sendee point 20, the synchronization e-token 60 is received 106 from the sendee point 20, and the acknowledgement e-token 70 is transmitted 1 10 to the service point 20. The acknowledgement e-token performs a handshake for the received synchronization e-token 60. Similar to the embodiment in figure 1A, the e- tokens 50,60,70 are communicated 150 to the service point 20 via a user application 90, using a communication standard of a data transmission supporting mobile com munication system 182 to/from the user application 90 and a communication standard of a WPAN 184 is used for communication 150 between the user application 90 and the sendee point 20.

Figure 2 illustrates a further embodiment of the computer-implemented method 100 for operating a distributed network of service points 20. The distributed network may comprise multiple sendee points 20 and multiple users 410, which are assigned 102 by the method. The sendee points 20 are facilities for delivery of and/or picking up par cels and each parcel locker 200 may thus facilitate a sendee point 20, comprising one or more compartments and a service point ID 24. Each parcel locker 200 may be as signed with a hardware configuration 272, The hardware configuration 272 may com prise the number of compartments and special facilities of each compartment, e.g. dimensions, temperature control or other important parameters for correct parcel stor age. Each parcel locker may also be assigned with its geolocation 274.

The service point ID 24 may be a G!JID in the network. The method may further use 116 a piece ID 42 for each parcel 40 being allocated in the distributed sendee point network. The piece ID may also be a GUID. The method includes the acts of receiving 106 e-tokens 10 and transmitting 110 e- tokens 10 to the assigned sendee points 20. Each service point may comprise a unique encryption key. The parcel locker may be hard-coded with these data.

During operation of the distributed network, new parcel lockers 200 and/or users 410 may continuously be assigned to the network, and the individual acts may be per formed accordingly. Hence, the method 100 comprises individual acts, which acts may be performed independently of each other.

Figure 3 illustrates even further embodiments of the method 100 for operating a dis tributed network of sendee points. The upper dot-lined box in the figure illustrates the embodiment illustrated in figure 2 and described in connection hereto, which in short includes acts of assigning 102 parcel lockers 200 and creating service points hereto, assigning 102 users 410 to the network and the use of piece IDs 42 for the parcels. The method 100 further includes receiving 106 synchronization e-token(s) 60, and transmitting 110 user e-tokens 50 and acknowledgement e-tokens 70to be communi cated to assigned service points via a user application 90.

One further embodiment illustrated in figure 3, in addition to the previously described method acts, in connection with the method illustrated in the top part of the box, fur ther comprises the method acts illustrated in the middle of the dot-lined box of creat ing 104 user groups 420 and assigning 102 the users 410 to the one or more created user groups 420.

Another further embodiment comprises, in addition to the previously described meth od acts, in connection with the method illustrated in the top part of the box, the further method acts illustrated in the bottom part of the dot-lined box of assigning 102 a par cel locker owner 430 for a parcel locker 200, and a land owner 432 of a piece of land 440 with the geolocation of the parcel locker 200.

Yet a further embodiment of the method 100 comprises a combination of the above embodiments, comprising all the illustrated and described method acts in one method 100 Figure 4 illustrates one embodiment of the distributed sendee point network 400. The distributed parcel locker network comprises a server 30, multiple parcel lockers 200, and multiple user applications 90.

Each parcel locker 200 comprises one or more compartments 212, a service point ID 24 and a service point encryption key 26. The service point ID may be a GUID.

Each parcel locker 200 facilitates a service point 20. Service points 20 are facilities for deliver}- of and picking up parcels. The user application 90 is adapted to be installed on a mobile smart device 92, com prising a processor 94 and communication means 96. The mobile smart device thus comprises means for transmitting and/or receiving communicated data 80 to/from the server 30 and transmitting and/or receiving communicated data 80 to/from the parcel lockers 200.

In the illustrated embodiment, the server comprises a status record 330, comprising information of the assigned service points. The record is updated by the computer- implemented method by creating a record entry 160 for a received synchronization e~ token. The server furthermore comprises a computer-readable medium 310, processor means 320 and a server program 300 with instruction for executing the server program 300 and for carrying out the method for operating a distributed parcel locker network.