Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
DYNAMIC SPACE HEATER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/165741
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A dynamic IR heater for detecting and heating one or more targets by projecting IR radiation includes a camera capturing an image from a field of view and a light source including an array of controllable point sources generating IR radiation. A controller is in communication with the camera to determine a heating profile of each of the targets, including a surface area to be heated and a corresponding radiant power setting, by comparing the captured image to a predetermined characteristic, and generates a distribution map of the IR radiation toward the targets. Each of the controllable point sources are thereby illuminated in accordance with the distribution map to direct the IR radiation substantially toward the targets. A method of operating the dynamic IR heater to detect targets and to project IR radiation thereupon is also disclosed.

Inventors:
ABATE, Vito (605-109 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5A 4P7, CA)
Application Number:
CA2018/000055
Publication Date:
September 20, 2018
Filing Date:
March 14, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MAGNA INTERNATIONAL INC. (337 Magna Drive, Aurora, Ontario L4G 7K1, CA)
ABATE, Vito (605-109 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5A 4P7, CA)
International Classes:
F24D15/00; B60H1/22; F24D13/00; F24D19/10; G02B26/08; H04N7/18; H04N21/80; H05B1/02; H05B3/00; G06Q30/04
Foreign References:
CA2899105A12016-02-04
CN104503472A2015-04-08
US20130259456A12013-10-03
US20140376206A12014-12-25
US20160076778A12016-03-17
FR3025869A12016-03-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOWLING WLG (CANADA) LLP (Attn: Grant Tisdall, Suite 1600 1 First Canadian Place,100 King Street Wes, Toronto Ontario M5X 1G5, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

Claim 1. A dynamic IR heater for heating a target using IR radiation and comprising:

a camera capturing an image from a field of view;

a light source including an array of controllable point sources, each having a

corresponding location and each being controllable to generate an adjustable amount of IR radiation;

a controller in communication with said camera, configured to receive said captured image and to detect the target and to determine a heating profile of the target, and to generate a distribution map, and in communication with said light source to cause each of said

controllable point sources to generate IR radiation in accordance with said distribution map to direct said IR radiation substantially toward the target; and

wherein the dynamic IR heater includes only passive devices between said light source and said target.

Claim 2. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 1 wherein the target includes two or more surfaces spaced apart from one another.

Claim 3. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 1 wherein the target is a specific person; wherein the controller stores a plurality of personal settings; and

wherein the controller is configured to adjust the heating profile of the target based upon one or more of said plurality of personal settings associated with the specific person. Claim 4. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 1 further including a target recognition module configured to recognize a specific person within the image; and

wherein the controller is configured to adjust the heating profile of the target based on the target being a specific person.

Claim 5. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 4 wherein the target recognition module is located remotely from the controller;

wherein the controller is configured to communicate at least a portion of the image to the target recognition module; and

wherein the controller is configured to receive information regarding the specific person within the image from the target recognition module.

Claim 6. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 4, further including a prediction module configured to determine a plurality of settings including at least a radiant power setting for heating the specific person based upon one or more of: prior settings used by the specific person, ambient temperature, ambient humidity, time of year, type of clothing worn by the specific person, percent of exposed bare skin of the specific person, and whether the specific person is wearing shoes, socks, or bare feet.

Claim 7. The dynamic IR heater of Claim 4, further including a billing module configured to charge an account associated with the specific person for heating or configured to authorize use of the dynamic IR heater based on a preexisting relationship with the specific person.

Claim 8. A method of operating a dynamic IR heater comprising:

capturing by a camera an image from a field of view;

detecting by the controller a target within the field of view;

generating by the controller a heating profile for the target;

generating a distribution map corresponding to the heating profile of the target;

transmitting by the controller, the distribution map to the light source;

generating, by each of a plurality of controllable point sources within the light source, IR radiation in accordance with the heating profile and in accordance with a position of each of the controllable point sources within the light source to direct the IR radiation substantially toward the target;

projecting the IR radiation directly from the light source to said target without directing or redistributing the IR radiation by any active devices therebetween; and

heating the target with the IR radiation.

Claim 9. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 8 further including:

detecting by the controller a control gesture corresponding to one of the targets in the first signal; and

modifying by the controller the heating profile of the one of the targets in response to said control gesture. Claim 10. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 8 further including:

identifying, by a target recognition module, a specific person based upon one or more predetermined characteristics of the specific person.

Claim 11. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 10, wherein the predetermined characteristics include facial features of the specific person, and further including:

identifying, by the target recognition module, a face within the image;

identifying facial features of the face; and

comparing the facial features of the face with the facial features of one or more individual persons to identify the specific person within the image.

Claim 12. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 8 further including:

adjusting, by a power level control, a level of heating applied to the target in accordance with a radiant power setting.

Claim 13. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 8 further including:

storing one or more one or more personal settings, and using, by the controller, the one or more personal settings in generating the heating profile for the target.

Claim 14. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 13 wherein the one or more personal settings stored in a cloud storage location remote from the controller, and further including:

transmitting, by the controller, a request message requesting the one or more personal settings stored in the cloud storage location; and

receiving, by the controller, the one or more personal settings from the cloud storage location.

Claim 15. The method of operating a dynamic IR heater according to Claim 10, wherein the target is associated with a specific person, and further including:

authorizing, by a billing module, the specific person for heating, prior to heating the target with the IR radiation.

Description:
DYNAMIC SPACE HEATER

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This PCT Patent Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent

Application Serial Number 62/471,542 entitled "Dynamic Space Heater", filed March 15, 2017, the entire disclosure of the application being considered part of the disclosure of this application, and hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

[0002] A dynamic space heater for detecting one or more targets and projecting radiant heat thereupon.

2. Discussion

[0003] Several different types of heating are available today for heating occupied or unoccupied spaces such as vehicle interiors and building spaces such as in homes and commercial real estate. Each type of heating and associated energy source has its advantages and disadvantages, which may vary depending on the energy source or sources available, geographic location and climate.

[0004] As for vehicular applications, energy sources for heating have traditionally relied upon the heat generated by the internal combustion engine. Such energy sources have drawbacks in that they take time to warm-up and are not always available, especially with modern electric and hybrid vehicles. Electric resistive heating has been used to replace or to supplement such internal combustion heat, and is generally limited to very specific applications and surfaces such as seat heaters. Electric resistive heating in vehicular applications has its own set of drawbacks, particularly including added weight, and the fact that they must generally be embedded in the surface to be heated.

[0005] As for building spaces, forced air heating using a natural gas energy source is the most common and most economical throughout much of North America, particularly in the northern climates where heating is required most often. However, forced air heating using a natural gas energy source has its drawbacks. It requires expensive infrastructure such as a furnace and ductwork, which must typically be integrated into a building's construction. It is slow to change in heat setting, and is not easily or quickly adjustable, for example in response to a person entering or leaving a particular space. Furthermore, because hot air rises, forced air heating generally does not provide an ideal heating profile for human comfort, with higher air temperature of approximately 70 Deg. F. at about 0.3 ft. above the ground and a gradually decreasing temperature to a lower air temperature of about 67 Deg. F. at 6.0 ft. above the ground.

[0006] Traditionally, other energy sources have been employed to compensate for the shortfalls of forced air heating using natural gas. Such other energy sources include, for example radiant panels, such as those sold under the trade name Ducoterra Solaray II, shown on the website http://www.heatinggreen.com/radiant-heating-panels/, and which may use electrical energy. Electrical radiant heating alone, or in combination with forced air heat, allows for a space which can be quickly adjusted in temperature and which may provide for a heating profile closer to the ideal for human comfort. Electrical radiant heating in combination with a natural gas furnace can allow for the temperature setting of the furnace to be lowered by approximately 5 deg. F, depending on a number of factors. However, electrical radiant heating has drawbacks of its own. A principal drawback is that the cost of electrical space heating is generally approximately 4 times more than the cost to heat with natural gas.

[0007] There exists a need for electrical radiant heating which can narrowly direct heat upon persons and other targets, and therefore providing the advantages of electrical radiant heating without the disadvantages of traditional electrical heating devices. There also exists a need for electrical radiant heating which may be used in vehicular applications where weight and power consumption of such a system must be optimized, and which can remotely heat surfaces which are historically difficult to heat. A dynamic IR heater according to the present invention allows for such a directed heating, which provides all of the advantages of electrical space heating, including fast response and control, and direct heating of a person, allowing for a heating profile closer to the ideal for human comfort, and thereby resulting in higher comfort and lower energy costs.

SUMMARY

[0008] The invention provides for a dynamic infrared (IR) heater for detecting a target and for projecting IR radiation upon the target.

[0009] The invention in its broadest aspect therefore provides for a dynamic IR heater for heating a target using IR radiation projected thereupon using a heating profile of the target which is dynamically adjustable, meaning the surface area and corresponding radiant power setting can be quickly and automatically changed based on the position of the target as detected by a camera, which captures an image from a field of view. The system uses a light source including an array of controllable point sources, each having a corresponding location and each being controllable to generate an adjustable amount of IR radiation. A controller is in communication with the camera, configured to receive the captured image, and to detect a target, and to determine a heating profile of the target, and to generate a distribution map, which is used to cause each of the controllable light sources to generate IR radiation and to direct the IR radiation substantially toward the target.

[0010] The dynamic IR heater includes only passive devices between the light source and the target. In other words, the dynamic IR heater does not include any active devices, such as a spatial light modulator (SLM), between the light source and the target.

[0011] In an example installation, a system of the present invention may be used in a 15 ft. x 15 ft. room (225 square ft.), which may otherwise use 1500W (6.7 W / square ft.) of supplemental radiant heating panels, allowing a furnace temperature setting for that room to be lowered by approximately 5 deg. F. Assuming a human body has an effective radiation area of 1.24 m A 2, or 13.3 square ft., the subject dynamic IR heater system would require approximately 89W per person, or approximately 17 times less power than would be required for a traditional supplemental radiant heating system which heats the entire room instead of the persons directly.

[0012] According to an aspect, the dynamic IR heater according to the present invention may be used to supplement traditional space heating, and may provide for a savings of approximately 2.2 times when compared with natural gas heating in Ontario based on the following assumptions: first, it is approximately 17 times more efficient to heat a person directly, rather than heating the entire room; second, electricity is approximately 4 times more expensive per unit energy than natural gas; third, a natural gas furnace may be up to approximately 95% efficient, while a dynamic IR heater according to the present invention may be approximately 50% efficient at transmitting heat to a person. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

[0014] FIG. 1 is an overview diagram of a dynamic IR heater in operation according to an embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0015] FIG. 2 is an overview diagram of a dynamic IR heater in operation according to an alternative embodiment of the present disclosure;

[0016] FIG. 3 is an overview diagram of a dynamic IR heater in operation according to an aspect of the embodiment of Figure 2;

[0017] FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of liquid crystal cells within a spatial light modulator redirecting IR radiation;

[0018] FIG. 5 is a schematic overview diagram of a dynamic IR heater according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

[0019] FIG. 6A is a schematic diagram of a dynamic IR heater according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

[0020] FIG. 6B is a schematic diagram of a front view of a laser diode array;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a dynamic IR heater according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

[0022] FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a dynamic IR heater according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

[0023] FIG. 9 is a block diagram of a dynamic IR heater according to another aspect of the present disclosure; [0024] FIG. 1 OA is a flow chart of a method of a dynamic IR heater according to the present disclosure;

[0025] FIG. 10B is a continuation of the flow chart of FIG. 1 OA;

[0026] FIG. 10C is a continuation of the flow chart of FIG. 10B; and

[0027] FIG. 10D is a continuation of the flow chart of FIG. 10C.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0028] Referring to the Figures, wherein like numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views, a dynamic infrared (IR) heater 10 is generally shown for projecting infrared radiation upon a plurality of different targets 12 corresponding to individual persons which may change in position, orientation, or presence, is generally shown. The dynamic IR heater 10 is also referred to as a system for dynamic IR heating 10, or as "the system" 10.

[0029] The dynamic IR heater 10 includes a camera 20 capturing an image from a field of view 22 and configured to generate a first signal 24 corresponding to the captured image. The camera 20 may be, for instance, a traditional digital video camera including an image sensor for converting visible light into an electrical signal. The camera 20 may be configured to detect one or more wavelengths of light within the visible and/or invisible spectrum. The camera 20 may be sensitive to IR light, which may allow the dynamic IR heater 10 to determine a temperature map of the temperature of surfaces throughout the field of view 22, including the temperature of the targets 12, such as people within a room. The camera 20 may be separate from other components of the dynamic IR heater 10. For example, the dynamic IR heater 10 may receive the first signal 24 from the camera 20 of a third-party device or system, such as from a home security system and/or from a networked monitoring system, such as those from Nest or Dropcam. The first signal 24 may be communicated from a remote source, such as from a remote server operated by an operator of the home security system. For example, the camera 20 may be used for security purposes and may also be available for use by the dynamic IR heater 10.

[0030] The dynamic IR heater 10 includes a light source 26 generating IR radiation including a plurality of wavefronts 28. The light source 26 may include, for example, a laser, one or more light emitting diodes (LEDs), or another suitable source of IR radiation. A source lens or first lens 29 may be provided to direct the IR radiation from the light source 26 along a first path 30 perpendicular to the wavefronts 28.

[0031] As shown in the embodiments of FIGS. 5, 7, and 8, the dynamic IR heater 10 may also include a spatial light modulator (SLM) 32, such as a liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) device including a plurality of liquid crystal cells 34 each having a refractive index "n" which is controllably variable to direct the wavefronts 28 in a second direction 36 and to thereby redistribute the IR radiation from the light source 26 into a redistributed light path 38 according to an index of refraction map 40 applied to the spatial light modulator 32. In other words, the SLM 32 may function as a micro-display, and the index of refraction map 40 may function as the image being shown thereupon. In this way, the cells 34 of the SLM 32 may work in combination to redistribute the IR radiation from the light source 26 which may be directed at or through the SLM 32. The SLM 32 may be of a type used commercially in projectors, such as, for example, a 1920x1080p device having a two-dimensional array of liquid crystal cells 34 arranged in rows of 1920 cells 34 and columns of 1080 cells 34.

[0032] The dynamic IR heater 10 also includes a controller 42, which may also be called a processor or a driver, in communication with the camera 20 for receiving the first signal 24 and for determining a heating profile 44 of each of the targets 12 including a surface area to be heated and a corresponding radiant power setting to be applied to the surface area to be heated by comparing the captured image to a predetermined characteristic, which may be, for example, a signature of an individual person. The predetermined characteristic may include multiple attributes including one or more shapes, the type and degree of movement of the shapes, and connection to other identifying features such as human features (e.g., a face and/or arms/hands, etc.). The surface area to be heated may be a two-dimensional or a three- dimensional surface in three-dimensional space. The 42 may also use the temperature map of the temperature of surfaces within the field of view in determining the heating profile 44. This may prevent, for example, the dynamic IR heater 10 from over-heating regions or items that are already relatively warm from other sources of heat such as a steam radiator or from sunlight coming through a window. In another example, the heating profile 44 may be altered depending on the temperature of a person's skin. This can prevent the dynamic IR heater 10 from over-exposing a person to IR heating.

[0033] The controller 42 may also consider other factors and/or characteristics as determined by the camera 20, such as the type and/or color of the surface to be heated, which may impact the degree of heating that may result from a given amount of IR radiation. The controller 42 may then then generate the index of refraction map 40 corresponding to the heating profile 44. For example, the system 10 may detect and identify two different people as targets 12, with one person wearing lightly colored clothing, and the other wearing dark clothing. The dynamic IR heater 10 may therefore automatically provide a lower radiant power setting to the person in the dark colored clothing based on a predetermined formulation such that the two persons receive about the same amount of heat at an initial radiant power setting. [0034] The controller 42 may be a general purpose computer or a controller specifically configured to operate the dynamic IR heater 10. The controller 42 may include one or more non-transitory computer-readable storage media 45, such as RAM, ROM, magnetic, optical, and/or electronic storage memory, storing computer-executable instructions that, when executed by one or more processors 43, instruct a computing device to perform various actions. The controller 42 may be located remotely from the camera 20 and the light source 26. For example, the controller 42 may, in whole or in part, be located in one or more remote servers that are in communication with other components of the dynamic IR heater 10 via one or more communications channels, such as the Internet. This configuration may allow the first signal 24 from the camera 20, and possibly other data, such as configuration settings, to be uploaded to the remote server, where the index of refraction map 40 is generated. The dynamic IR heater 10 may, therefore, be provided as a unit comprising at least the camera 20 and the light source 26, along with a data connection, such as a wired or wireless network connection for communication with the controller 42, which is located remotely.

[0035] The controller 42 may generate a second signal corresponding to the index of refraction map 40 and be in communication with the spatial light modulator 32 for transmitting the second signal to the spatial light modulator 32. A projector lens or second lens 46 may be disposed in a path after the spatial light modulator 32 for focusing the redistributed light path 38 of the IR radiation onto the heating profile 44 of each of the targets 12.

[0036] According to an aspect, the controller 42 may be configured to detect a control gesture corresponding to one of the targets 12 in the first signal 24 and to modify the heating profile 44 of the one of the targets 12 in response to the control gesture. Such gestures could allow, for example, each person to individually increase or lower the radiant power setting, or the amount of power directed at the corresponding one of the targets 12. In other words, a person could control the heating provided by the system 10 to himself or herself specifically, or to all persons and/or other targets 12 being heated by the system 10.

[0037] In accordance with an aspect of the invention, and as shown in FIG. 1, the system 10 of the subject invention may be used for heating an interior building space, such as a room of a home or a commercial space. The targets 12 may be individual persons within that space. The heating profile 44 may be determined based upon one or more personal settings associated with the person such as, for example, whether or not to heat the face of the person, whether or not to heat bare skin of the person, and whether or not to heat areas covered by clothing or other coverings such as blankets.

[0038] The system 10 may also be used in other fixed locations including covered or uncovered spaces, such as, for example, pavilions, patios, walkways, or any other fixed area.

[0039] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, and as shown in FIGS. 2-3, the system 10 may be used in the interior space of a vehicle. As shown in FIG. 2, the system 10 may be used to heat one or more targets 12, which correspond to surfaces which a person may later contact. Those targets 12 may include, for example, seats, gearshift knobs or levers, and one or more portions of a steering wheel. The targets 12 and their corresponding heating profiles 44 may be adjusted automatically based on their actual positions and/or other characteristics as determined by the camera 20, such as the type and/or color of the surface to be heated, which may impact the degree of heating that results from a given amount of IR radiation. According to an aspect and as shown in Fig. 3, the system 10 may be used to heat different targets 12, which may include body parts of a person located inside the vehicle. The system 10 may be configured to detect exposed skin and to heat only those areas. The system 10 may be configured to automatically track and avoid heating sensitive areas, such as a person's eyes. The system may automatically switch between different types of targets 12, such as those shown in FIG. 2 and 3, depending on the presence of a person within the vehicle.

[0040] According to a further aspect, the system 10 may be used to heat other targets 12 on a vehicle, which may include heating surfaces such as windows and/or mirrors to melt snow or ice or to evaporate dew or other condensation therefrom. The system 10 may detect the presence of moisture, snow, or ice and may be configured to automatically activate in response thereto. The system 10 may be used in conjunction with or in place of traditional defroster or defogger devices or HVAC system operating modes. In other words, the system 10, may provide targeted heating to the windows and or mirrors when the HVAC system of a vehicle is placed in a defrost mode and/or when a rear window defroster is activated.

[0041] Two or more dynamic IR heaters 10 to may be combined to heat targets 12 from different directions. Furthermore, a dynamic IR heater 10 may use two or more cameras 20 to more accurately identify targets 12 in three-dimensional space and to generate a corresponding three-dimensional heating profile 44.

[0042] According to an aspect and as shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, the light source 26 may include a point source array 200 comprising a plurality of individual point sources, which may be, for example, laser diodes, and which may be controlled on or off individually or in groups according to a projection map in order to selectively illuminate one or more regions and thereby project IR radiation onto the target 12. In other words, the entire projectable area may be subdivided into a plurality of regions, each having an angular width in two dimensions, and each corresponding to a controllable point source or group of point sources such that the region may be selectively illuminated such as with IR radiation, based on the detection of a target 12 in that region. The point sources may be rapidly cycled on/off, such as with a PWM signal, in order to adjust the intensity of the IR radiation being projected upon the illuminated region. As shown in Fig. 6A, the point source array 200 may be a laser diode array, comprising a plurality of individually controlled laser diodes. Micro-lenses 202 may be provided over individual point sources or groups of point sources to focus or change the angle of the light beams from the point sources. A projector lens 46 may be used to spread the light beam from the point sources to be able reach the entire operating area where targets 12 may be present, such as the entire room. Other devices for spreading out the beams may also be used such as, for example, a parabolic mirror or a combination of multiple lenses and/or mirrors. Figure 6B shows an example of a point source array 200 from a front view showing one possible arrangement pattern of individual point sources, which may be laser diodes.

[0043] In order to effectively utilize the point source array 200 to direct the IR radiation substantially toward the targets 12, the controller 42 is configured to generate a distribution map, which specifies the relative intensity for each of the individual point sources within the point source array 200, in accordance with the locations of those individual point sources. By illuminating the point source array 200 in accordance with the distribution map, the IR radiation may be directed substantially toward the target 12 and not in directions away from the 12. This may provide for an energy savings over a wide-beam light source, and/or allow more IR radiation to be directed directly toward the targets 12.

[0044] According to an aspect and as shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 6 A and 6B, the dynamic IR heater 10 may include only passive devices between the light source 26 and the target 12. Passive devices include, for example, lenses, mirrors, and filters. In other words, the dynamic IR heater 10 may include no active devices, such as an SLM 32, directing or redistributing the IR radiation between the light source 26 and the target 12.

[0045] Alternatively, the dynamic IR heater 10 may include both the point source array

200, together with an SLM 32. This is illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 7, in which the dynamic IR heater 10 includes a point source array 200, together with a plurality of controllable micromirrors 204 which may each be movable in 2-axes. The micromirrors 204 may operate in combination to focus light to create any pattern desired, such as projecting the heating profile 44 upon a target 12. The use of controllable micromirrors 204 may allow an array with a fewer number of individual lasers as would otherwise be required to project the heating profile 44 upon the target 12 with sufficient resolution. A liquid cooling channel 206 may be provided adjacent the light source 26 for circulation of a liquid coolant to remove waste heat created by the laser diodes.

[0046] According to an aspect and as shown in FIG. 8, a dynamic IR heater 10 may use a plurality of controllable micromirrors 204 which may each be movable in 2-axes to controllably focus light to create any pattern desired, such as projecting the heating profile 44 upon the target 12, with the light supplied by a single, wide beam, such as a type which may be provided by a single light source 26 generating IR radiation. The light source 26 may include, for example, a laser, one or more light emitting diodes (LEDs), or another suitable source of IR radiation.

[0047] As shown in FIG. 9, the controller 42 of the dynamic IR heater 10 includes a target recognition module 48, and a prediction module 50, a billing module 52, and a power level control 54. As also shown in FIG. 9, the controller 42 takes the first signal 24 from the camera 20 as an input and sends the index of refraction map 40 to the spatial light modulator 32. The modules 48, 50, 50, 52 may be software modules, or sequences of instructions present within the storage memory 45 of the controller 42 for execution by the processor 43 order to perform specific actions described in this disclosure. The storage memory 45 of the controller 42 also includes a settings storage region 56 holding a plurality of personal settings 57, which may each be associated with specific persons.

[0048] According to an aspect, a single target 12 may include two or more surfaces spaced apart from one another. The system 10 may associate those surfaces with a single target 12 to coordinate heating between them. The system 10 may track and store a plurality of personal settings 57, which may include, for example, a power level setting, which may be applied to two or more separate surfaces of a target 12. For example, the system 10 may be configured to heat the exposed skin regions, such as the hands and face of a target 12 that is an individual person.

[0049] According to a further aspect, the target 12 may be a person, and the heating profile 44 is determined based upon one or more of the personal settings 57 associated with the person. The personal settings may include, for example, power level, whether or not to heat the face of the person, whether or not to heat bare skin of the person, and whether or not to heat areas covered by clothing or other coverings such as blankets.

[0050] According to another aspect, the target recognition module 48, is configured to recognize a specific person within the image captured by the camera 20, and to adjust the heating profile 44 based on the target 12 being a specific person. The target recognition module 48 may use, for example, preset gestures, allowing people to identify themselves to the dynamic IR heater as the specific person. The target recognition module 48 may automatically identify specific persons by characteristics of the specific persons such as habits, clothing, height, weight, voice, and/or facial recognition, or a combination of characteristics. Habits used to identify a specific person may include, for example, how they move, where they go or sit, time they are present in specific locations. The target recognition module 48 may also connect to other systems or services, such as an alarm system, home automation, smart thermostat, or smart speaker for information regarding the location and/or identity of a specific person.

[0051] According to an aspect, the target recognition module 48 may be located, at least in part, remotely from the controller 42, with the controller 42 being configured to

communicate at least a portion of the image from the camera 20 to the target recognition module 48 and to receive information regarding the specific person within the image from the target recognition module 48. For example, the controller 42 may transmit the image, or a portion thereof containing the face of a person to be identified, to a facial recognition service, which may then identify the specific person and report the identity of the specific person back to the controller 42.

[0052] According to a further aspect, the dynamic IR heater 10 includes the prediction module 50 which is configured to determine a plurality of settings for heating a specific person including at least a radiant power setting. In order to determine those settings, the predication module 50 uses a plurality of inputs including prior settings used by the specific person, ambient temperature and/or humidity, time of year, weather (e.g. whether it is sunny or cloudy), type of clothing worn by the specific person, percent of exposed bare skin on the specific person, and the type of footwear worn by the specific person, such as shoes, socks, or bare feet. [0053] According to a further aspect, the dynamic IR heater 10 includes the billing module 52, which is configured to charge an account associated with the specific person for heating and/or to authorize use of the dynamic IR heater 10 based on a preexisting relationship with the specific person. For example, a specific person may authorize payment for heating at a location such as an outdoor bar patio or other public or private spaces. The billing module 52 may enable use of the dynamic IR heater 10 for specific persons based on a preexisting relationship, such as, for example, members of a club or for specific persons staying at a hotel where the dynamic IR heater 10 is located. Use of the dynamic IR heater 10 may be tied to a specific person based upon a type of ticket purchased for an event, such as a sporting event or other performance at the location where the dynamic IR heater 10 is located.

[0054] According to another aspect, and as illustrated on FIG. 9, the personal settings

57 associated with one or more specific persons may be stored in a cloud storage location 58 remote from the controller 42, and in communication therewith via a network such as the internet. In practice, the controller 42 may send a request message 59 to the cloud storage location, requesting the personal settings associated with the specific person identified by the controller 42. Such cloud storage may include accounts associated with the specific person, which may provide portability, allowing one set of personal settings 57 to be used by two or more different dynamic IR heaters 10 at different locations.

[0055] According to a further aspect, the dynamic IR heater 10 includes the power level control 54, which is configured to adjust the power level of the IR radiation being projected upon one or more of the targets 12. The power level control 54 may be responsive to one or more different types of control inputs such as gestures by persons within the field of view of the camera 20, voice commands, or control through a user interface such as an app on a mobile device. Voice commands may be interpreted and communicated via a voice control system such as Siri by Apple, Alexa by Amazon, or Google Assistant. The power level control 54 may be associated with an online account or profile such as is discussed above with reference to the cloud storage location 58.

[0056] As shown in the flow chart of FIGS. 1 OA - 1 OB, the subject invention also includes a method 100 of operating a dynamic IR heater 10 to project IR radiation upon one or more different targets 12 which may change in position, orientation, or presence. In other words, the dynamic IR heater 10 may automatically detect the presence and position/orientation of one or more different targets 12 who may be individual persons, and may then provide radiant heating to each of the targets 12 detected.

[0057] The method 100 includes capturing, by a camera 20, an image from a field of view 22 at step 102. The camera 20 may capture a video or one or more still images, and the image is preferably a digital image. The camera 20 may be fixed to a specific location, or it may be moveable, such as where the dynamic IR heater 10 is a temporary installation. This step 102 may be performed by combining two or more different images from different cameras 20. The image from the field of view 22 may include a temperature map, for example, where the camera 20 is sensitive to IR radiation.

[0058] The method 100 also includes generating by the camera 20 a first signal 24 corresponding to the captured image at step 104. The first signal 24 is preferably a digital signal, and may be a packet, or digital file having a defined beginning and end. Alternatively, the first signal 24 may be a stream of data having no defined beginning or end.

[0059] The method 100 also includes transmitting, by the camera 20, the first signal 24 to a controller 42 at step 106. This step 106 may be accomplished using a wired or a wireless transmission means such as a Wi-Fi connection, particularly where the controller 42 is located remotely from other components of the dynamic IR heater 10.

[0060] The method 100 also includes receiving, by the controller 42, the first signal 24 corresponding to the image captured by the camera 20 at step 108.

[0061] The method 100 also includes detecting a target 12 by the controller 42 by comparing the captured image to a predetermined characteristic at step 110. The predetermined characteristic may correspond to the target 12 being one or more regions of a specific person.

The predetermined characteristic may also be the target 12 being one or more specific surfaces to be heated such as a steering wheel, gear shifter, and/or seat within a vehicle.

[0062] The method 100 also includes determining the presence, position, and geometry of the target 12 within the field of view 22 at step 112. This step 112 allows for a more precise and even heating of the target 12. For example, a target 12 including a surface oriented at an oblique angle to the light source 26 and/or spaced further away therefrom, may require a higher amount of IR radiation to be projected thereupon to be heated an equivalent amount as another surface that is oriented perpendicularly and/or is located closer thereto.

[0063] The method 100 may proceed with generating by the controller 42 a heating profile 44 for the target 12 at step 114. The heating profile 44 may define the intensity of IR radiation to be projected, then angular region in two or three-dimensional space where the IR radiation is to be directed, and/or the distance to the target 12 where the IR radiation is to be focused.

[0064] The method 100 also includes generating an index of refraction map 40 corresponding to the heating profile 24 of the target 12 at step 116. [0065] The method 100 also includes transmitting by the controller 42 the index of refraction map 40 to a spatial light modulator 32 at step 118.

[0066] The method 100 proceeds with generating IR radiation along a first path by an

IR light source 26 at step 120. As described above, this may include energizing one or more light sources 26, which may include a laser, one or more light emitting diodes (LEDs), or another suitable source of IR radiation. The amount of IR radiation generated may be varied by the controller 42 using, for example, pulse width modulation to control the one or more light sources 26.

[0067] The method 100 also includes directing the IR radiation in the first path 30 onto the spatial light modulator 32 by a first lens 29 at step 122. This is illustrated in the diagram of FIG. 5, and allows the spatial light modulator 32 to be evenly illuminated. It also allows the dynamic IR heater 10 to be integrated into a compact package, with the spatial light modulator 32 being located relatively close to the IR light source 26.

[0068] The method 100 also includes redistributing the IR radiation by the spatial light modulator 32 to a redistributed light path 38 according to the index of refraction map 40 at step 124.

[0069] The method 100 may also include focusing and directing the redistributed light path 38 upon all of the targets 12 by a second lens 46 at step 126.

[0070] The method 100 also includes heating the target with the redistributed light path

38 of IR radiation at step 128.

[0071] According to an aspect, the method 100 may include detecting by the controller

42 a control gesture corresponding to one of the targets 12 in the first signal 24 at step of 130. [0072] The method 100 may also include modifying, by the controller 42, the heating profile 44 of the one of the targets 12 in response to the control gesture at step 132. For example, the control gesture may allow an individual person to control the radiant power setting directed toward that person individually without impacting the heating of others in who are also being heated by the dynamic IR heater 10 at the same time.

[0073] The method 100 may also include projecting the IR radiation directly from the light source 26 to the target 12 without directing or redistributing the IR radiation by any active devices therebetween at step 133. In other words, the dynamic IR heater 10 may include no active devices, such as an SLM 32, directing or redistributing the IR radiation between the light source 26 and the target 12. The dynamic IR heater 10 may include only passive devices between the light source 26 and the target 12. Passive devices include, for example, lenses, mirrors, and filters. An example dynamic IR heater 10 practicing this method step 133 is shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 6 A and 6B.

[0074] The method 100 may include recognizing, by the target recognition module 48, a specific person within the image by comparing characteristics of the image with

predetermined characteristics associated with one or more individual persons at step 134. This step is preferably performed by a target recognition module 48. The predetermined

characteristics may include, for example, habits, clothing, height, weight, voice, and/or facial features, or a combination of characteristics. Habits used to identify a specific person may include, for example, how they move, where they go or sit, time they are present in specific locations.

[0075] Step 134 may include identifying, by the target recognition module 48, a face within the image at sub-step 134A. For example, target recognition module 48 may recognize the general shape of a face including eyes, nose, mouth, chin, and/or forehead, and may designate the corresponding region of the image as being a person's face. Step 134 may also include identifying, facial features of the face at sub-step 134B, and comparing the facial features of the face with the facial features of one or more individual persons to identify the specific person within the image at sub-step 134C. The facial features may include, for example, the general shape of the face, the proportions between the eyes, nose, chin, and cheekbones. These facial features may remain generally unchanged as a person ages, and may be compensated to account for the face being oriented differently from the camera 20. In short, the target recognition module 48 may recognize the specific person by the predetermined characteristics being aspects of their face. The target recognition module 48 may be located, in whole or in part, remotely from the controller 42, and may be implemented, for example using a distributed computing service, such as AWS by Amazon or Azure by Microsoft.

[0076] The method 100 may include adjusting, by a power level control 54, a level of heating applied to the target 12 in accordance with a radiant power setting at step 136. The power level setting may be associated with a specific target, such as a specific person. The power level setting may be set using gestures, voice commands, control through an app. or other user interface. This step 136 may also allow the user to adjust the boundaries, or physical size of the target 12 to be heated. The user may be able to modify the size and other boundaries of an area associated with the target 12 by the controller 42. For example, in heating a person covered by a blanket, the dynamic IR heater 10 may default to heating the entire blanket. The user may then adjust the boundaries of the target 12, using a computer or an app. on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, to designate a more specific area to be heated, such as the lower body area, but not the upper body area. [0077] The method 100 may include storing, by the controller 42, one or more personal settings 57 at step 138. The personal settings 57 may be associated with a specific person. The personal settings 57 may include, for example, whether or not to heat the face of the specific person, whether or not to heat bare skin of the specific person, and whether or not to heat areas covered by clothing or other coverings such as blankets.

[0078] The method 100 may also include using, by the controller 42, the one or more personal settings 57 in generating the heating profile 44 for the target 12 at step 140.

[0079] The method 100 may include transmitting, by the controller 42, a request message 59, requesting the one or more personal settings 57 stored in a cloud storage location 58 remote from the controller at step 142. The method 100 may also include receiving, by the controller 42, the one or more personal settings 57 from the cloud storage location 58. These steps 142 - 144 are illustrated in the block diagram of FIG. 9, and provides several advantages, such as allowing the personal settings 57 associated with a specific person to be portable and usable with two or more different dynamic IR heaters 10, which may be at different locations.

[0080] The method 100 may include authorizing, by a billing module 52, the specific person for heating at step 146 prior to performing step 128, heating the target 12 with IR radiation. The authorization may include, for example, determining that the specific person has pre-paid for the heating service or is otherwise entitled to receive it, for example, by having a predetermined qualification such as membership or paid admission to the area where the dynamic IR heater 10 is located. The billing module 52 may also change an account, such as a credit card, of the specific person ordering the heating service. [0081] The method 100 may include generating, by the controller, a distribution map at step 150. The distribution map define the relative intensity of a plurality of controllable point sources within the light source 26.

[0082] The method 100 may include transmitting, by the controller, the distribution map to the light source 26 at step 152.

[0083] The method may further include generating, by each of the plurality of controllable point sources within the light source 26, IR radiation in accordance with the heating profile for the target, and the position of each of the controllable point sources within the light source at step 154 to direct the IR radiation substantially toward the target. Steps 150 through 154 are applicable where the dynamic IR heater 10 includes a point source array 200 comprising a plurality of individual point sources, such as in the embodiments of FIGS. 6 A, and 7.

[0084] The system, methods and/or processes described above, and steps thereof, may be realized in hardware, software or any combination of hardware and software suitable for a particular application. The hardware may include a general purpose computer and/or dedicated computing device or specific computing device or particular aspect or component of a specific computing device. The processes may be realized in one or more microprocessors, microcontrollers, embedded microcontrollers, programmable digital signal processors or other programmable device, along with internal and/or external memory. The processes may also, or alternatively, be embodied in an application specific integrated circuit, a programmable gate array, programmable array logic, or any other device or combination of devices that may be configured to process electronic signals. It will further be appreciated that one or more of the processes may be realized as a computer executable code capable of being executed on a machine readable medium.

[0085] The computer executable code may be created using a structured programming language such as C, an object oriented programming language such as C++, or any other high- level or low-level programming language (including assembly languages, hardware description languages, and database programming languages and technologies) that may be stored, compiled or interpreted to run on one of the above devices, as well as heterogeneous combinations of processors, processor architectures, or combinations of different hardware and software, or any other machine capable of executing program instructions.

[0086] Thus, in one aspect, each method described above and combinations thereof may be embodied in computer executable code that, when executing on one or more computing devices, performs the steps thereof. In another aspect, the methods may be embodied in systems that perform the steps thereof, and may be distributed across devices in a number of ways, or all of the functionality may be integrated into a dedicated, standalone device or other hardware. In another aspect, the means for performing the steps associated with the processes described above may include any of the hardware and/or software described above. All such permutations and combinations are intended to fall within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0087] Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings and may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described while within the scope of the appended claims.