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Title:
A HAND-HELD RANDOM BREATH TEST UNIT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/143693
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit including a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC). A sensor module is also provided for releasably fastening to the display module and housing a sensor for sensing the BAC. Preferably, the sensor module can be released from the display module for calibration, and houses the sensor to impede damage to the sensor or the compromising of its calibration.

Inventors:
WILSON LAURENCE (AU)
NADILO LADDIE (AU)
BROWN JAMES (AU)
Application Number:
AU2011/000564
Publication Date:
November 24, 2011
Filing Date:
May 13, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ALCOLIZER PTY LTD (AU)
WILSON LAURENCE (AU)
NADILO LADDIE (AU)
BROWN JAMES (AU)
International Classes:
A61B5/097; G01N33/497
Domestic Patent References:
WO2008109881A22008-09-12
Foreign References:
KR100846062B12008-07-11
US6142951A2000-11-07
US20070193335A12007-08-23
US20030052692A12003-03-20
US20070093725A12007-04-26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CULLENS (239 George StreetBrisbane, Queensland 4000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
The claims defining the invention are as follows:

1. A hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit including:

a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAG);; and . ' , .

a sensor module for releasably fastening to the display module and housing a sensor for sensing the BAG.

2. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the sensor is completely contained or encapsulated within the sensor module and cannot be accessed with a finger.

3. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the sensor is fluidically sealed in an air-tight or water-tight manner within the sensor module.

4. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the sensor module is disposable and includes relatively inexpensive parts when compared with the display module.

5. A RBT unit as claimed in claim i . wherein the display module includes a display module housing, and . the sensor module includes a sensor module -housing for housing the sensor. .

6. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 5: wherein the modules include exposed electrical ihterfaces which connect: when the housings are fastened together.

7. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 6, wherein the sensor module housin is configured to be translated relative to the display module housing when fastening the housings together to. connect the electrical interfaces which are, in turn, ho longer exposed, the RBT unit defining a continuous body upon fastening of the housings, together.

8. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 5, wherein the displa module housing defines <a docking bay in which the sensor module housing can be slid, the sensor module housing defining a pair of protruding rails for being received within a pair of elongate recesses defined by the display module housing.

9. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the sensor includes an electrochemical fuel cell sensor.

10. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the display module includes: display module controller circuitry located within the display module housing and for controlling the display module;

a liquid crystal display (LCD) coupled to the display module controller circuitry and for displaying the indication of BAC in the form of a numeric reading; and

a user interface coupled to the display module controller circuitry and for enabling a user to operate the RBT unit.

1 1 . A RBT unit as claimed in claim. 1.0, wherein the display module controller circuitry includes:

a processor arrangement for executing software;

an exposed display module electrical interface coupled to the processor arrangement and for facilitating powering of and communication with the sensor module;

a battery and charging system for powering the processor arrangement and charging an internal battery:

a blue tooth communication transceiver module for interfac'ng with external devices; and

a global positioning system module for sensing the position of the RBT unit to be stored by the processor arrangement in. use.

12. A RBT unit as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the sensor module includes: a processor arrangement for executing software; an exposed sensor module electrical interface coupled to the processor arrangement and for facilitating receipt of power from and communication with the display module;

an electro-ehemical fuel cell sensor for sensing BAC and coupled to the processor arrangement; and

. a backup battery for providing auxiliary power to the processor arrangement. .

13. A RBT nit as claimed in claim 12, wherein the sensor module processor arrangement includes non-volatile memory for storing a unique identifier in the form of a serial number.

14. A RBT. unit as claimed in claim , wherein the sensor module includes a pressure sensor for measuring the internal pressure of the sensor module.

15. A replaceable sensor module for a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit,- the sensor module configured to be releasably fastened to a display module for dispiaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAG), the sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC.

16. A display module for a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the display module configured to display an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC) and able to be releasably fastened with a sensor module, the sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC.

17. A method of assembling a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the RBT unit including a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC) and a sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC, the method including the step Of:

releasably fastening the sensor module relative to the display module.

18. A method as claimed in claim 17, v/herein the step of releasably fastening involves translating or sliding the sensor module relative to the display module.

19. A method as claimed in claim 18, wherein the sensor can be translated so that exposed eleetrieal interfaces of the modules connect and are, in turn, no longer exposed,

20. A method of disassembling a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the RBT unit including a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAG) and a sensor module housing a sensor for sehsing the BAC, the method including the step of: ·

unfastening the sensor module relative to the display module.

Description:
A HAND-HELD RANDOM BREATH TEST UNIT

TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention generally relates to a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit for testing blood alcohol content (BAC). The present invention has particular, although hot exclusive application to testing conducted by police officers. BACKGROUND

The reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge.

In Australia, drivers may be stopped along any road by a police officer for a "random breath test", commonly referred to as an "RBT". For an operation involving a large number of police (typically 10-20) at a fixed location, the colloqiiial term "booze bus" is often used. The RBT is conducted using a hand-held RBT unit in whic the driver is required to blow (or breath). The RBT unit senses the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) from the sampled breath : and a maximum BAC of 0.05% is typically enforced. Drivers who are found to have a preliminary BAC reading of greater than 0.05% are required to wait for a predetermined period,, after which time they are retested.

• The integrity of the test and the RBT unit is paramount in ensuring that a conviction is made against drivers whose BAC exceeds the legal limit. Accordingly, RBT units are periodically calibrated to ensure that they are in good working order and detailed records of their service history need be kept in the event that the integrity of the RBT is ever challenged by a disgruntled driver in court. However, servicing the RBT units means that the RBT unit is out of operation for some time as it is sent to a remote servicing facility for. calibration. In practice, RBT units re: comparatively expensive and it is often not feasible to have spares. RBT units are known in which the sensor for sensing the BAC can be removed and calibrated, whilst another sensor is provided in its place. For example, WO 2007/106140 discloses a RBT . unit with a releasable sensor. Replacement of the sensor is a relatively complex process, requiring a heightened level of technical skill, and involves the manual disassembly and assembly of multiple parts including the breath sample tube, sensor and electrical connection. Incorrectly handling, assembling or disassembling the parts has the potential to damage the sensor or compromise its calibration.

KR 100846062 discloses a RBT unit with a releasable sensor that is comparatively easier to remove through a rear flap, However once again, incorrectly- handling, assembling or disassembling the parts has the potential to damage the sensor or compromise its calibration.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a RBT unit having a releasable sensor and being of improved integrity. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect, of the present invention, there is provided a handheld random breath test (RBT) unit including:

a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC); and

a sensor module for re!easably fastening to the display module and housing a sensor for sensing the BAC. :

The sensor module can be released from the display module for calibration, and houses the sensor to impede damage to the sensor or the compromising of its calibration. Preferably, the sensor is completely contained or encapsulated within the sensor module and cannot be accessed with a finger. The sensor may be fluidicaily sealed, in an air-tight or water-tight manner within the sensor module. The sensor module may be disposable, and include relatively inexpensive parts when compared with the display module.

. The. display module may include a display module housing; and the sensor module may include a sensor module housing for housing the sensor.. The modules may include exposed electrical interfaces which connect when the housings are fastened together. The sensor module housing may be translated relative to the display module housing when fastening the housings together to connect the electrical interfaces which are, in turn, no longer exposed. The RBT unit may define a continuous body upon fastening of the housings together.

The display module housing may define a docking bay in hich the sensor module housing can be slid, the sensor module housing defining a pair of protruding rails for being received within a pair of elongate recesses defined by the display module housing. The sensor module housing may define a threaded fastening hole which can be placed in register with a fastening hole of the display module housing and receive a fastener to fasten the housings together.

■/ . " : ' · ' ■ ■ ; - :■> · " . V ' . , -

The sensor may include an electro-chemical fuel cell sensor. The electrical interfaces may be power and communications interfaces.

The display module may include:

a display module controller circuitry located Within the display module housing and for controlling the: display module;

a liquid crystal display (LCD) coupled to the display module controller circuitry and for displaying the indication of BAC in the form of a numeric reading; and

a user interface coupled to the display module controller circuitry and for enabling a user to operate the RBT unit.

The display module controller circuitry may include:

a processor arrangement for executing software; an exposed display module electrical interface coupled to the processor arrangement and for facilitating powering of and communication with the sensor module;

a battery and charging system for powering, the processor arrangement · and charging an internal battery;

a blue tooth communication transceiver module for interfacing with external devices, and

a global positioning system module for sensing the position of the RBT unit to be stored by the processor arrangement in use.

The sensor module may include:

a processor arrangement for executing software;

an exposed sensor module electrical interface coupled to the processor arrangement and for facilitating receipt of power from and communication with the display module;.

an electro-chemical fuel cell sensor for sensing BAC and coupled to the processor arrangement; and .

a backup battery for providing auxiliary power to the processor arrangement.

· '

The sensor module processor arrangement may include non-volatile memory for storing a unique identifier in the form of a serial number.

The sensor module may further include a pressure sensor for measuring the i terhal pressure of the sensor module. The sensor module may further include a pump and solenoid.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a replaceable sensor module for a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the sensor module configured to be releasably fastened to a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC), the sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC. According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a display module for a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the display module configured to display an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC) and able to be reieasably fastened with a sensor module, the sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC.

According to another aspect of the .present invention, there is provided a method of assembling a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit, the RBT unit including a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content " (BAC) and a sensor module housin a sensor for sensing the BAC, the method including the step of:

reieasably fastening the sensor module relative to the display module.

The step of reieasably fastening may involve translating (or sliding) the sensor module relative to the display module. The sensor may be translated so that exposed electrical interfaces of the modules connect and are, in turn, no longer exposed.

The step of fastening may further include the step of fastening the sensor module to the display module with a threaded fastener.

The method may further include the step of actuating a user interface of the display module. Responsive to actuating a user interface, the method may further include the steps of:

verifying calibration settings of the sensor module with the display module; and

storing a calibration record forming a traceable record which can be used in the event of a legal challenge to the integrity of RBT unit.

The step of verifying may involve comparing calibration settings of the sensor module with predetermined acceptable limits. The step of verifying may involve: the display module determining whether a unique identifier stored in the sensor module is valid; the display module determining whether a model number stored in the sensor module is valid; and the display module determining whether the firmware of the sensor module is valid. The calibration record ma be stored in the display module and include: unique serial numbers of both the display module : and sensor module; firmware version numbers of both the display module and sensor module; the date and time of actuating the user interface, and verification confirmation of calibration settings of the sensor module by the display module.

The method may further include the step of the display module polling to determine when the sensor module is unfastened from the display module.

The method may further include the steps of:

monitoring the time elapsed relative to a last calibration date of the sensor module; and

issuing notifications both immediatel prior to and upon the time elapsed exceeding a predetermined non-calibration period. The method may further include the step ' s of:

tracking the date and time independently in each module: and

responsive to detecting a difference in the tracked dates or times, setting the date and time of the display module to that of the sensor module. The method may further include the step of replacing the sensor module with another sensor module during calibration of the sensor module. The step of replacing may involve unfastening the threaded fastener and translating (or sliding) the sensor module from the display module. According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of disassembling a hand-he|d random breath test (RBT) unit, the RBT unit including a display module for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC) and a sensor module housing a sensor for sensing the BAC, the method including the step of: unfastening the sensor module relative to the display module.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Preferred features, embodiments and variations of the invention may be discerned from the foliowing Detailed Description which provides sufficient information for those skilled in the art to perform the invention. The Detailed . Description is not to be regarded as limiting the scope of the preceding Summary of the Invention in any way. The Detailed Description will make reference to a number of drawings as follows:

Figure 1 is a perspective view, of a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; Figures 2a - 2c show a sequence of steps associated with a method of assembling the hand-held RBT unit of Figure 1 ;

Figure s is a block diagram of the hand-held RBT unit of Figure 1 ; and · Figure 4 is a flowchart of a method of assembling the hand-held RBT unit of Figure 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS According to an embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit 2 as shown in Figure 1. As can best be. seen in Figure 2, the modular RBT unit 2 includes a display module 4 for displaying an indication of blood alcohol content (BAC) and a sensor module 6 for releasably fastening to the display module 4. The sensor module 6 includes a BAG sensor for sensing the BAC and can be released from the display module 4 for calibration. The sensor module 6 houses the BAC sensor so that damage to the sensor or the compromising of its calibration is impeded. Accordingly, the integrity of the RBT unit 2 is improved when compared with other RBT units having exposed releasable BAC sensors. The BAC sensor is completely contained or encapsulated within the sensor module 6 and cannot be accessed with a finger. The BAC sensor is also fluidieaily sealed in an air-tight and water-tight manner within the sensor module 6 to impede exposure of the sensor to the elements when the RBT unit 2 is used in the rain or dropped in a puddle, for example. The sensor module 6 can be either reusable, or disposable whereby it includes relatively inexpensive parts when compared with the display module 4. A detailed description of the RBT unit 2 is provided below.

Turning to Figure 2, the display module includes a display module housing 8, and the sensor module 6 includes a sensor module housing 10 for housing the sensor. The sensor module housing 10 defines a mouthpiece attachment point and inlet 12 through which a breath sample can be provided. The modules 4, 6 include exposed electrical interfaces 14 which connect when the housings 4,6 are fastened together. With reference to Figure 2b, the sensor module housing 10 is translated relative to the display . module housing 8 when fastening the housings 8, 10 together to connect the electrical interfaces 14, Upon fastening the housings 8, 10 together, the electrical interfaces 14 are no longer exposed and the; RBT unit 2 defines a continuous body as shown in Figure 2c. With reference to Figure 2a, the display module housing 8 defines a docking bay 16 in which the sensor module ' housing 10 can be slid. The sensor module housing 10 defines a pair of opposed protruding rails 18 for being , received within a pair of elongate recesses 20 defined by the display module housing 8. The sensor module housing 10 also defines a threaded fastening hole 22 which can be placed in register with a fastening hole 24 of the display module housing 8. As shown in Figure 2c, the holes 22, 24 can receive a threaded screw 26 (i.e. fastener) to fasten the housings 8, 10 together.

Turning to Figure 3, the electrical interfaces 14 of the display module 4 and sensor module 6 are power ahd communications interfaces. In addition, the display module 4 further includes another electrical interface 28 through which power is supplied to a battery and charging system 30 and for communications with a personal computer (PC).

The display module 4 includes display module controller circuitry 32 within the display module housing 8 and that is used to control the display module 4. A liquid crystal display (LCD) 34 is coupled to the display module controller Circuitry 32 and displays the indication of BAG in the form of a numeric reading. Turning briefly to Figure 1 , a user interface 36 is also coupled to the display module controller circuitry 32 and enables, a user to operate the RBT unit 2 ?

Returning to Figure 3, the display module controller circuitry 32 includes a processo arrangement 36 for executing software in the form of computer readable instructions to operate the display module 4. The display module controller circuitry 32 also * includes the exposed display module electrical interface 14 coupled to the processor arrangement 36 and for facilitating powering of and communication with the sehsor module 6. The internal battery and charging system 30 is suitable for powering the processor arrangement 36 and charging an internal battery using power supplied through the interface 28. A blue tooth communication transceiver module 38 can be used to download a calibration record stored by the processor arrangement 36 from the RBT Unit 2 and can interface with external devices. The display module controller circuitry 32 also includes a global positioning system module 40 for sensing the position of the RBT unit 2 to be stored by the processor arrangement 36 during testing.

The sensor module 6 includes a processor arrangement 42 for executing software in the form of computer readable instructions to operate the sensor module 6. The processor arrangement 42 includes non-volatile memory for storing a unique identifier in the form of a serial number corresponding to the sensor module 6. Further, the sensor module 6 includes the exposed sensor module electrical interface 14 coupled to the processor arrangement 42 and for facilitating receipt of power from and communication with the display module 4. The interna\ BAC sensor ' 44 is an electro- chemical fuel cell sensor for sensing BAC and is coupled to the processor arrangement 42. The sensof module 6 further includes a backup battery 46 for providing auxiliary power to the processor arrangement 42. The sensor module 6 further includes known components to facilitate the breath test. In particular, the sensor module 6 includes a pressure sensor 48 for measuring the breath volume delivered to the sensor module 6 during the test and during calibration of the 44. The sensor module 6 further includes a pump and solenoid 50 coupled to the mouthpiece attachment point and inlet 12 through which the breath sample is provided during testing.

A method 60 of assembling the hand-held random breath test (RBT) unit 2 will now be described with reference to Figure 4. . Initially, the display module 4 and the sensor module 6 are separated as shown in Figure 2a.

At step 62, the sensor module 6 is releasably fastened relative to the display module 4. Elaborating further,. the sensor module 6 is translated or slid relative to the display module 4 as shown in Figure 2b. The sensor module 6 is translated so that exposed electrical interfaces 14 of the modules 4, 6 connect and are, in turn, no longer exposed as shown in Figure 2c. The screw 26 is then received by the modules 4, 6 to impede their separation. At step 64, the user interface 36 of the display module 4 is actuated by pressing any actuator.

At step 66 and responsive to actuating the user interface 36 at step 64, calibration settings of the sensor module 6 are verified with the display module 4, This step of verifying involves comparing stored calibration settings in the processor arrangement 42 of the sensor module 6 with predetermined acceptable limits stored in the processor arrangement 36 of the display module 4. This step of verifying also involves: the display module 4 determining whether the unique identifier stored in the processor arrangement 42 of sensor module 6 is valid; the display module 4 determining whether a model number stored in the processor arrangement 42 of sensor module 6 is valid; and the display module 4 determining whether the firmware of the sensor module 6 is valid.

At step 68, a calibration record is stored that forms a traceable; record which can be used in the event of a legal challenge to the integrity of RBT unit 2. The calibration record is stored in the proeessor arrangerhent 36 of the display module 4 and includes: unique serial numbers of both the display module 4 and sensor module 6; firmware version numbers of both the display module 4 and sensor module 6; the date and time of actuating the user interface 36 in step 64, and verification confirmation of calibration settings of the sensor module 6 by the display module 4 performed at step 66, At query step 70, the. display module 4 polls the user interface 14 to determine when the sensor module 6 is unfastened from the display module 4. If the sensor module 6 is not unfastened from the display module 4, the method 60 remains at step 70 and the RBT unit 2 can operate normally to perform RBTs. If the sensor module 6 is unfastened from the display module 4, the method 60 returns to step 62 where the sensor module 6 can be replaced with another sensor module during offsite calibration of the sensor module 6. During this procedure, the threaded fastener 26 is removed and the sensor module 6 is slid from the display module 8 to unfasten the sensor module 6 from the display module 4.

In conjunction with the method 60 described above, the RBT unit 2 also performs the background steps of:

monitoring the time elapsed relative to a last calibration date stored in the sensor module; and .

issuing warning notifications to the user on the: LCD 34 both immediately prior to and upon the time elapsed exceeding a predetermined non-calibration period. In conjunction with the method 60 described above, the RBT unit 2 also performs the background steps of:

tracking the date and time independently in each module 4, 6; and responsive to detecting a difference in the tracked dates or times, setting the date and time of the display module 4 to that of the sensor module 6.

The assembly and disassembly of the RBT unit 2 described above in relation to method 60 is straightforward and can be readily conducted by police officers without the need for any formal training. In addition, the method 60 can be conducted in poor weather conditions without fear of damaging or affecting calibration of the internal BAC sensor 44.

A person skilled in the art will appreciate that many embodiments and variations can be made without departing from the ambit of the present invention..

In compliance with the statute, the invention has been described in language more or less specific to structural or methodical features. It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to specific features shown or described since the means herein described comprises preferred forms of putting the invention into effect. The invention is, therefore, claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the proper ' scope of the appended claims appropriately interpreted by those skilled in the art.