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Title:
INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM IN A PUBLIC ACCESS POINT SUCH AS A POINT OF SALE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/008498
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure provides an interactive communication system (1) comprising a plurality of interaction means (OR), local interaction controllers (2) and a central control unit (4) in communication with the local interaction controllers. According to the invention, the system comprises fault detection and degraded mode management means (LF, 4) which activates a degraded operating mode of an interactive application when a fault is detected in the interaction means, whereas the fault detection and degraded mode management means are distributed between the local interaction controllers and the central control unit and comprise the communication of a fault information (IF) of at least one local interaction controller to the central control unit.

Inventors:
WALINE, Guillaume (56 Rue Duhesme, Paris, 75018, FR)
MEONI, Laurent (40 Rue Gilbert Cesbron, Paris, 75017, FR)
Application Number:
IB2018/054891
Publication Date:
January 10, 2019
Filing Date:
July 02, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
INDIGO SAS (9 Rue André Pingant, Reims, 51100, FR)
International Classes:
G06Q30/02; G06Q20/18; G07F19/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013139122A12013-09-26
Foreign References:
FR3039682A12017-02-03
US9672500B22017-06-06
FR3039682A12017-02-03
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CABINET I-PATVAL SAS (101 Av du General Leclerc, Paris Cedex 14, 75685, FR)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

An interactive communication system (1 ) comprising one or more visitors (VIS) in a public access point, such as a point of sale, the said system comprising:

- a plurality of interaction means (OR) which are arranged in such a way as to facilitate interactions of the said one or more visitors (VIS) with the said system (1 ),

- at least one local interaction controller (2) to which the said interaction means (OR) are connected and comprising a software module (MP) locally managing the operation of the said interaction means (OR) according to received instructions (PQ),

- a central control unit (4) in communication with the said at least one local interaction controller (2) and comprising operating software (A_EXP, A_CONF, A_DEF) of an interactive application whose execution controls the said interactions according to interaction requests delivered by the said interaction means (OR),

characterized in that the system comprises fault detection and degraded mode management means (IF, LF, ROUT_DEF, A_DEF) which activates a degraded operating mode (M_EXP_D) of the said interactive application when a fault is detected (IF=1 ) in the said interaction means (OR), whereas the said fault detection and degraded mode management means (IF, LF, ROUT_DEF, A_DEF) are distributed between the said local interaction controllers (2) and the said central control unit (4) and comprising communication of a fault information (IF) of at least one said local interaction controller (2) to the said central control unit (4).

The system according to Claim 1 , characterized in that the said fault information (IF) is produced in the said at least one local interaction controller (2) by the said fault detection and degraded mode management means (IF, LF, ROUT_DEF, A_DEF) based on status information provided by interfaces (21 ) of the said interaction means (OR). The system according to Claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said degraded operating mode (M_EXP_D) of the said interactive application is defined by the said fault detection and degraded mode management means (IF, LF, ROUT_DEF, A_DEF) in the said central control unit (4) and comprises the deactivation of at least one of the said interaction means (OR).

The system according to any one of Claims 1 to 3, characterized in that it also comprises at least one communication module (3) to which the said at least one local interaction controller (2) is connected, whereas the said communication module (3) comprises wireless communication transmission/reception means (32) allowing communication with corresponding wireless communication transmission/reception means (40) comprised in the said central control unit (4), whereas the said communication module (3) allows the said communication of the said central control unit (4) with the said at least one local interaction controller (2).

The system according to any one of Claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the said at least one local interaction controller (2) comprises an integrated communication module having wireless communication transmission/reception means allowing communication with corresponding wireless communication transmission/reception means (40) comprised in the said central control unit (4), whereas the said integrated communication module (3) allows the said communication of the said central control unit (4) with the said at least one local interaction controller (2).

The system according to Claim 4 or 5, characterized in that the said wireless communication transmission/reception means are radio communication means (32, 40).

The system according to any one of Claims 1 to 6, characterized in that the communications between the said at least one local interaction controller (2) and the said central control unit (4) makes use of the SPI serial communication protocol.

8. The system according to any one of Claims 1 to 7, characterized in that the communications between the said interaction means (OR) and the said at least one local interaction controller (2) make use of the RS485 or l2C serial communication protocol.

9. The system according to any one of Claims 1 to 8, characterized in that the said interaction means (OR) are analog or digital, and comprise at least one sensor, one actuator, one audio and/or video mean for broadcasting audiovisual content, one fragrance emitting element and/or a smartphone of a said visitor connected to the system. 10. A public access point, such as a point of sale, characterized in that it comprises at least one interactive communication system (1 ) according to any one of Claims 1 to 9, whereas the said interaction means (DP, ET1 , TS, ET2, AD, LE, FA) are arranged in an interactive space of the said public access point.

Description:
INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM IN A PUBLIC ACCESS POINT

SUCH AS A POINT OF SALE

The invention relates generally to the field of interactive communication. Specifically, the invention relates to an interactive communication system having visitors in a public access point, for example, in a point of sale, including merchandising, communication, marketing applications and the like.

Interactive communication systems are expected to grow significantly in the coming years with the development of digital point of sale technologies. Systems thereof are of great interest for meeting individual customer information requirements and to guide them in making purchasing decisions. Systems thereof are also of great interest for the applicability of a communication and marketing strategy, together with metrical and statistical studies of users behavior and data capture.

Interactive communication systems include a wide variety of embodiments. The embodiments thereabove are most often specifically designed, for example, for large or medium sales areas and in different distribution networks.

Generally, interactive communication systems comprise an acquisition chain of information from sensors, a control unit hosting an interactivity application and an actuator control chain. The terms "sensors" and "actuators" thereof are to be understood in the very broadest sense, since they can be very diverse devices that form "human-machine interfaces" between visitors and the system.

Sensors are the triggering elements of interactions and comprise, for example, simple keys, infrared presence sensors, audio sensors, cameras, motion sensors, accelerometers, barcode readers, NFC dynamic electronic tags, portable communication devices such as "smartphones", etc. Actuators are the organs delivering the interactive communication responses of the system for visitors and the following interaction requests initiated by sensors.

The interactive communication responses can be very diverse and auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Thus, for example, this may be a spoken message, music, illuminating light, possibly a dynamic display of a video, emission of a home fragrance, movement of an object, a tactile sensation and the like. Sound boxes, video screens directly receiving audio signals, streaming video or activation signals delivered by the system may be used, as well as, for example, portable communication devices such as "smartphones", LED illumination lamps, fragrance emitting elements, electric motors, linear actuators, intermediate control devices such as relay or electronic switches, etc.

In his French patent application FR3039682A1 , the present applicant has contemplated an interactive communication system as described thereabove. The interactive communication system thereof, offering the possibility of linking different types of interaction triggering organs to the same hub, allows greater ease of integration and increased standardization.

Although the interactive communication system according to FR3039682A1 is satisfactory, it would be desirable to improve the system in order to enhance its adaptability to a wide variety of applications, as well as to improve its robustness and fault tolerance.

In one aspect, the invention relates to an interactive communication system having one or more visitors in a public access point, such as a point of sale, the system comprising:

- a plurality of interaction means which are arranged in such a way as to facilitate interactions of the visitor or visitors with the system,

- at least one local interaction controller to which the interaction means are connected and comprising a software module that locally manages the operation of the interaction means based on instructions received,

- a central control unit in communication with the at least one local interaction controller and comprising operating software from an interactive application the execution of which controls the interactions based on interaction requests issued by the interaction means.

According to the invention, the interactive communication system comprises fault detection and degraded mode management means which activates a degraded operating mode of the interactive application when a fault is detected in the interaction means, wherein the fault detection and degraded mode management means are distributed between the local interaction controllers and the central control unit and comprise the communication of a fault information of at least one local interaction controller to the central control unit.

According to a particular characteristic, the fault information is produced in the at least one local interaction controller by the fault detection and degraded mode management means based on state information provided by interfaces of the interaction means.

According to another particular characteristic, the degraded operating mode of the interactive application is defined by the fault detection and degraded mode management means in the central control unit and comprises the deactivation of at least one of the interaction means.

According to a particular embodiment, the system also comprises at least one communication module to which the at least one local interaction controller is connected, wherein the communication module comprises wireless communication transmission/reception means allowing communication with corresponding wireless communication transmission/reception means included in the central control unit, whereas the communication module authorizes the communication of the central control unit with the at least one local interaction controller.

According to another particular embodiment, the at least one local interaction controller comprises an integrated communication module having wireless communication transmission/reception means allowing communication with corresponding wireless communication transmission/reception means included in the central control unit, whereas the integrated communication module allows for communication of the central control unit with the at least one local interaction controller.

According to another particular characteristic, the wireless communication transmission/reception means are radio communication means.

According to another particular characteristic, the communications between the at least one local interaction controller and the central control unit make use of the so-called SPI serial communication protocol.

According to another particular characteristic, the communications between the interaction means and the at least one local interaction controller make use of the RS485 or l 2 C serial communication protocol. According to another particular characteristic, the interaction means are analog or digital, and comprise at least one sensor, one actuator, one audio and/or video mean for streaming audiovisual content, one fragrance emitting element and/or the smartphone of a visitor connected to the system.

According to another aspect, the invention also relates to a public access point, such as a point of sale, and comprises at least one interactive communication system such that as the briefly described thereabove, whereas the interaction means are arranged in the interactive space of the public access point.

Other advantages and characteristics of the present invention, according to several particular embodiments, will be now described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

- FIG. 1 is a simplified diagram showing an example of an interactive communication system in a commercial space,

- FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing the general architecture of an interactive communication system according to the invention,

- FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a local interaction controller included in the interactive communication system according to the invention,

- FIG. 4 is the general configuration of the communication packets used in the interactive communication system according to the invention,

- FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a central control unit included in the interactive communication system according to the invention, and

- FIG. 6 is an algorithm showing the configuration of the interactive communication system according to the invention in a degraded operating mode when a fault is detected within the interaction means of the system.

FIG.1 shows schematically, by way of example, the application of an interactive communication system according to the invention, in a commercial space. The system according to the invention, because of its robustness and great fault tolerance that minimize maintenance operations, is adapted for deployment over very large areas.

With reference to FIG. 1 , the system detects the presence of a visitor VIS in the interactive space by way of an infrared presence detector DP. Based on the position of the visitor VIS in the interactive space, different stimuli aimed at provoking exchanges are emitted by the system. Thus, an interactive device having a touch-screen ET1 and a video screen ET2 attracts the attention of the visitor VIS by way of a dynamic display and audio content and invites the visitor thereof to use the touch table ET1 . Using the touch table ET1 , the visitor VIS discovers a range of products displayed on the screen ET2, scans the matrix quick response code (QR code) with his smartphone for connection to a server via a local network or the Internet, indicates a contact email address, etc. The location of the visitor VIS in the interactive space is thereby detected more precisely by way of several sensitive carpets TS1 , TS2 and TS3. Thus, for example, when the presence of the visitor VIS in front of the display PR is detected by way of the sensitive carpet TS2, the dynamic display content of the video screen AD changes and the visitor VIS receives more direct information and is invited to discover the products offered for sale that are disposed on the shelving. The lighting installation LE and a fragrance emitting element FA in the interactive space are also controlled by the system to provide a luminous and olfactory atmosphere adapted to a context or situation detected. A sensitive carpet TS3 placed at the foot of a couch CA will allow for metrical studies, for example, an estimation by the system of visitors' state of fatigue when they arrive in the interactive space. In this example, the presence detector DP, touch table ET1 and sensitive carpets TS1 , TS2 and TS3 act as trigger interaction sensors and the video screens ET2, AD, lighting installation LE and fragrance emitting element FA act as interaction actuators. In the specification thereof, the sensors and actuators of the interactive communication system according to the invention are generally designated by the terms "interaction means".

A particular embodiment 1 of an interactive communication system according to the invention will be now described with reference to Figs. 2 to 6.

As shown in FIG. 2, the interactive communication system 1 substantially comprises a plurality of interaction means OR, a plurality of local interaction controllers 2, at least one radio frequency communication module 3 and one central control unit 4. In some embodiments of the interactive communication system according to the invention, the radio frequency communication modules 3 will not act as separate units of the local interaction controllers 2. Their radio frequency communication function will be thereby fulfilled by the local interaction controllers 2 themselves which will act as radio frequency communicating entities in radio frequency connection with the central control unit.

In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the central control unit 4 of the interactive communication system 1 according to the invention is connected to a computer system 5 which hosts a high level application for controlling the interactive communication system 1 and optionally other similar interactive communication systems in other points of sale. The computer system 5 also hosts a data processing application for the data collected including metrical, statistical or marketing studies. According to the applications, the computer system 5 may be connected locally to the central control unit 4 by way of a wired or radio communication link or the Internet. A server may be included in the computer system 5 for communications with smartphones of visitors VIS. Indeed, during interactions with the interactive communication system 1 , uniform resource identifiers URI may be displayed on the screens AD, ET2, for example as a quick response code for smartphone connections to a server access point where, for example, visitors VIS can obtain additional information, view and accept commercial offers directly on their smartphones.

With reference to FIG. 2, the interaction means OR are interaction sensors and actuators such as described thereabove. The interaction means OR are analog or digital, that is their input or output signals, as the case may be, are analog or digital.

Each interaction local controller 2 allows the wired connection of a maximum M interaction means OR to an internal data bus Bs described thereof with reference to FIG. 3. The M interaction means OR are powered by the local interaction controller 2.

According to the embodiments, the connector plugs of the interaction means OR to the local interaction controller 2 may be of different types, for example Molex registered trademark, USB and the like.

As shown in FIG. 3, the local interaction controller 2 comprises a plurality of M interface circuits 21 for the connection of the M interaction means OR, an internal communication bus Bs and a control unit UC.

The interface circuits 21 comprise input/output ports individually configurable to allow the connection of the interaction means OR acting as an analog or digital sensor or actuator. Analog/digital converters are included in the interface circuits 21 and are activated for the analog interaction means OR.

In this embodiment, the internal communication bus Bs is a RS485 or l 2 C bus. The bus Bs is connected to corresponding ports of the interface circuits 21 and to a corresponding port of the control unit UC.

The control unit UC is typically a microcontroller. The control unit UC comprises interfaces and, as well known in the prior art, a microprocessor μΡ, a E2PROM non-volatile data memory E2P containing a BIOS basic system managing the input/output of the microcontroller, a SRAM volatile data memory SRA acting as the volatile memory of the microprocessor, FLASH non-volatile program memory FLA containing an application software module ou firmware MP, and a time base not shown. The application software module MP is downloaded into the program memory FLA during the computer installation of the system 1 according to the invention and may then be modified, for example, during updating operations or during a degraded mode as will be described thereof.

The interfaces of the control unit UC comprise an interface 22 having the bus Bs, as well as a bus interface 20 for a communication bus BSPI (see FIG. 2) and a fault indication output 25.

The bus interface 20 comprises FIFO buffer registers for the inputs/outputs with the communication bus BSPI. The communication bus BSPI allows bidirectional data communication between the local interaction controllers 2 and between the radio frequency communication module 3 and the local interaction controllers 2. The bus BSPI is a serial communication bus. As well known in the prior art, the Serial Peripheral Interface SPI defines a synchronous serial communication bus operating in full-duplex mode. Indeed, other serial communication protocols may be used in alternative embodiments.

The fault indication output 25 provides fault information IF. According to the invention, the fault information IF is used to indicate a malfunction in the interaction means, whereas the fault is detected by the control unit UC. As shown in FIG. 2, the fault indication outputs 25 are connected to a fault indication line LF which delivers the fault information IF to the radio frequency communication module 3.

As shown in FIG. 3, the application software module MP hosted in the program memory FLA comprises especially an activation/deactivation table EN of the interaction means OR, an addressing table ADR of the interaction means OR, an interpreter INTP of the control instructions, and task execution routines ROUT_CONF, ROUT_EXP, and ROUT_DEF.

The task execution routines ROUT_CONF are executed during the computer installation of the system 1 according to the invention, at subsequent update or reconfiguration operations and switching to a degraded operating mode after the failure of one or more interaction means OR. The task execution routines ROUT_EXP are executed during operation of the system 1 and manage the local interactive communication, that is the interactive communication implemented by way of the interaction means OR connected to the local controller interaction 2 considered. The task execution routine ROUT_DEF monitors the state of operation of the interaction means OR and reports a detected fault based on the fault information IF. According to the invention, the routine ROUT_DEF especially uses state information provided by the interface circuits 21.

With reference to FIG. 2, the radio frequency communication module 3 authorizes the wired connection of a maximum number of P local interaction controllers 2, by way of their bus interfaces 20, to the communication bus BSPI thereabove which is comprised in the radio frequency communication module 3. The interactive communication system 1 will comprise as many radio frequency communication modules 3 and local interaction controllers 2 as is necessary to connect all the interaction means OR of the system 1 .

Additionally to the serial communication bus BSPI, the radio frequency communication module 3 also comprises a fault indication line LF to which the fault indication outputs 25 of the local interaction controllers 2 are connected. Additionally, the radio frequency communication module 3 essentially comprises an interface 30 for a connection to the bus BSPI and to the line LF, a control unit 31 , a radio frequency transceiver 32, a radio frequency link interface 33 and a time base 34 for provision of clocks necessary for the control unit 31 and the synchronous bus BSPI operation.

The interface 30 comprises FIFO buffer registers for the inputs/outputs with the communication bus BSPI, as well as an input for the fault information IF delivered by the fault indication line LF. The interface 30 allows inputs/outputs between the bus BSPI and the control unit 31 and reading by the control unit 31 of the fault information IF on the line LF. The control unit 31 manages the SPI protocol on the bus BSPI and on a radio communication link LRF between the communication modules 3 and the central control unit 4. The radio frequency link interface 33 between the control unit 31 and the radio frequency transceiver 32 comprises FIFO buffer registers for inputs/outputs. The radio frequency transceiver 32 typically operates in the 2 GHz ISM band and comprises a micro-strip antenna.

The communications on the bus BSPI and by way of the radio link LRF use packets PQ whose general configuration is shown in FIG.4.

As shown in FIG. 4, the frame of a packet PQ comprises a packet indicator Tl, a packet identifier PI, a transmitter address EA, a recipient address DE, a message field DATA and a cyclic redundancy code CRC.

The packets PQ transmitted are of different types and correspond to a configuration mode M_CONF or to a normal operating mode M_EXP or degraded operating mode M_EXP_D. In each of two modes thereabove, the packet PQ may be a message information sending packet or a message information acknowledgment packet. The packet indicator Tl differentiates different packets PQ therebetween. The packet identifier PI is provided for the identification of duplicates in the packets PQ received.

As also shown in FIG. 4, the fault information IF may be encapsulated in the message field DATA. This is the case for the packets PQ transmitted by the communication modules 3 to the central control unit 4 to inform thereof of the detection of a fault in an interaction mean OR.

The configuration mode M_CONF is used at the initial configuration of the system 1 for installation of the application in normal operating mode M_EXP. The configuration mode M_CONF can also be used subsequently when modifying or updating the application and for switching thereof to a degraded operating mode M_EXP_D. The switching of the operation of the application in a M_EXP_D degraded mode is controlled by the central control unit 4 when an interaction device fault is indicated by the fault information IF. A degraded mode M_EXP_D is thereby defined to allow a continuation of the exploitation of the interactive application in the best possible conditions despite the presence of one or more faults detected in the interaction means OR. In the degraded mode M_EXP_D, the faulty/inoperative interaction means OR are deactivated. Referring now specifically to Figs. 2 and 5, the central control unit 4 comprises a radio frequency transceiver 40 and an interface 41 having FIFO buffer registers for inputs/outputs with the data communication radio link LRF. Additionally, the central control unit 4 comprises, as well known in the prior art, a microprocessor μΡ, a E2PROM non-volatile data memory 42 containing a BIOS basic system, a SRAM volatile data memory 43 acting as the volatile memory of the microprocessor, FLASH non-volatile program memory 44 and conventional interfaces 45 for a screen, a keyboard, a mass memory, the Internet network, etc. The central control unit 4 comprises, for example, a conventional microcomputer, a mini-PC, a Raspberry-Pi registered trademark CPU card and the like.

Preferably, the control software of the interactive application of the system 1 according to the invention is comprised in the non-volatile program memory 44 of the motherboard of the central control unit 4. Alternatively, the software thereabove will be comprised in a storage memory connected to the central control unit 4 by way of the interface 45. As shown in FIG. 5, the control software of the interactive application comprises an configuration software module A_CONF, an operating software module A_EXP and a fault management and degraded mode software module A_DEF.

Referring more specifically to the algorithm of FIG. 6, the cooperation of the software modules A_CONF, A_EXP and A_DEF at the configuration of the system 1 according to the invention for an interactive application in a normal operating mode M_EXP or in a degraded operating mode M_EXP_D will be described, whereas the degraded operating mode M_EXP_D is activated when a fault is reported in the interaction means OR. The configuration software A_CONF module manages the configuration mode M_CONF.

In the software module A_CONF, the conditional block C1 is a delay loop, output N, of a configuration request. The CONF=1 indicator reports an effective configuration request and activates the output Y of the block C1 .

The activation of the output Y controls the execution of the block C2 which is an installation process INSTAL_M_EXP of the interactive application in normal operating mode M_EXP thereof. The process INSTAL_M_EXP installs the interactive application by way of issuing configuration packets PQ whose message fields DATA comprise instructions and configuration data. Software modules MP_EXP are thereby installed, block E1 , in the program memories FLA of the local interaction controllers 2. The normal operating mode M_EXP, block E2, can thereby be activated.

In the interaction local controllers 2, when a routine ROUT_DEF (see FIG. 3) reports an interaction mean fault, the fault information I F= is transmitted by way of a packet PQ to the fault management and degraded mode software module A_DEF. In the software module A_DEF, the fault information IF=1 is detected by the conditional block D1 with the activation of output Y thereof. A block D2, corresponding to a process DEF_OR for searching the faulty interaction mean OR, is thereby executed. To identify the faulty interaction mean OR, the process DEF_OR may, for example, use operating data EXP_DATA, block E3, from previous and current interactions, initiate reading status indicators in the interfaces 21 of the interaction means OR in the local interaction controllers 2 or initiate detection tests.

Once the faulty interaction mean OR has been identified by the process

DEF_OR of the block D2, a degraded operating mode M_EXP_D of the interactive application is determined in the block D3. The degraded operating mode M_EXP_D is determined to allow a continuation of the exploitation of the interactive application in the best possible conditions despite the presence of the faulty interaction mean OR. The block D3 thereby activates a configuration request CONF_D=1 , block C3, for the installation of the degraded mode M_EXP_D of the interactive application.

The configuration request CONF_D=1 is detected, output Y, by the conditional block C3 which thereby initiates the execution, block C4, of an installation process INSTAL_M_EXP_D of the degraded operating mode M_EXP_D of the interactive application. By emitting the configuration packets PQ, the process INSTAL_M_EXP_D modifies one or more software modules MP in the program memories FLA of the local interaction controllers 2 concerned for degraded mode versions MP_EXP_D, block E4. The degraded operating mode M_EXP_D, block E5, is thereby operational.

The illustrative embodiments, including but not limited to, have been specifically described. Person having ordinary skill in the art, according to the embodiments of the present invention, may carry out various modifications and variations being within the scope of the claims thereof.