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Title:
LOCATION REPORTING DEVICE, TRACKING SYSTEM AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/074098
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A location ticking device kepi by a parent is used with a location reporting device worn by the child in which both the tracking device and the location reporting device both have a short range radio signal transceiver and a GPS location receiver -and the reporting device also has a cellular data transmitter and a controller. The locator has a cellular data transceiver and a display screen. If the locator and the reporter become separated by more than a prescribed distance, the reporting device GPS receiver sends data from the receiver through the cellular transmitter to an internet accessible receiver, which provides a visual display on the parents locator screen indicating the relative positions of parent and child.

Inventors:
PETCH, Jason Phillip (1808 Sladen Street, Cranbourne, Victoria 3977, AU)
Application Number:
AU2014/001058
Publication Date:
May 28, 2015
Filing Date:
November 20, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PETCH NOMINEES PTY LTD (180B SIaden Street, Cranbourne, Victoria 3977, AU)
International Classes:
G01S19/48; G01S19/16; H04W40/38; H04W52/44
Foreign References:
US20130076523A12013-03-28
US6246376B12001-06-12
US8525670B12013-09-03
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KRAEMER, Michael (Sandercock & Cowie, 180B Sladen StreetCranbourne, Victoria 3977, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 , A. local io reporting device Including a receiver fox. receiving, short range radio sigrsai communic tions, a satellite location receiver; a ceJMar cotnMuakatioM transmitter; and a controller operative to monito signals received by the short range receiver arid responsive to a condition of said signals to activate the satellite location receiver and transmit, using the eel olar transmitter, locatio information derived from the satellite location receiver,

2,. A location reporting device as claimed in Claim 1, wherein, the receiver for receivin short range radio signal eomtmimea&m is -in the fo m of a Bluetooth- transceiver,

3. A location reporting device as claimed in Claim 1 or 2> wherein the satellite location receiver comprises a GPS receiver.

4. A location reportin g device as- claimed in any one of Claims 1-3, wherein the controller is operative to activate the GPS receiver and cellular transmitter m response to a eonnnand signal received from' a paired Bluetooth transceiver or in response to a loss of Bluetooth, signal link with the paired Bluetooth transceiver.

5. A. location reporting device lor use whit a. portable computing device having a short range radio transceiver, the location reporting device including a receiver for receiving short range radio signal communications from the portable computing device, a satellite locatio receiver, a cellular eoramunkations transmitter; and a controller operative to monitor signals received by the short range receiver and' responsive to a condi tion of said signals to activate the satellite location, receiver and transmit, using the cellular transmitter, location, information derived .from. the satellite location receiver,

6. A location porting device as claimed in Claim. 5, wherein the short range radio communications comprise Bluetooth or Bluetooth Smart comm meafions.

7. A location reporting device as claimed in any one of Claims 1-6, wherein the satellite communications .receiver is n the form of a GPS receiver.

8. A .location reporting device as claimed in any one of Claims .1 -7, wherein the cellular eonnnumeatlons transmitter is in the form .of a transceiver circuit forcommunicating via commercial cellular teiecommuiueaiions networks such as by 2G5 3Ci, 4G9 GSM or other communication s protocols >

9. A location reporting device as claimed in Claim 8, wherein the cellular transmitter is operative t communicate the location information by digital transfer to an internet server.

ID, A location reporting device as claimed in any one of Claims 5-9, wherein the portable computing device is an internet-enabled device capable of communicating with said internet server to retrieve said location iniorj.natio¾ therefrom,

11. A location reporting device as claimed in Claim 10, wherein the portable computing device also has a GPS location receiver and is adapted by way oFapp software to provide indications of the relative locations of the portable: comput ing device and loca tion reportin device.

12, A. method for tracking and/or locating a portable reporting device using a portable computing device, wherein the portable reporting device includes a short range radio signal transceiver,, a GPS location receiver, a cellula data transmitter and a controller, and wherei the portable computing device includes a short range radio signal transceiver, a GPS location receiver, a cellular data transceiver and a display screen, the method including establishing a short range radio signal link between the computing device and reporting device, determining, by a condition of the short range radio signal link, if the reporting device -and computing device become separated from one another by greater than a prescribed amount, in response t the separation deternii ation, activating the reporting device GPS location, receiver and cellular transmitter, and periodically uploading data indicating the reporting device location derived from, the GPS receiver by way of the cellular transmitter to an internet accessible server, downloading the data indicating the reporting device location to .the portable computing device and providing a visual indication on the rK*rtabl©-e puting device display screen, of the relative locations of the portable computing device and importing device.

13, A location tracking device for use with a location reporting device, including a short rangeradio signal transceiver for short range communications with the location reporting, device, a cellular communications transceiver, a satellite location receiver, a display screen and a controller operative to monitor short range communications with the location reporting device, calculate an estimated pro imit distance therefrom and display the estimated proximity distance on. the display screen.

14, A location tracking device as claimed in Claim. 13» wherein the controller calculates the estimated proximity distance using commonicafions signal intensity.

15, A locating tracking device as claimed in Claim 13 or 14, wherein the short range radio signal transceiver is Bluetooth Low Energy.

16, A locating tracking device as claimed in any one of Claims 13-15, wherein, the controller is operative to display the estimated proximity distance when it exceeds

predetermined range,

17, A locating tracking device as claimed in an one of Claims 13-16, wherein the predetermined range Is user selectable.

.1.8, A locating tracking device as claimed in any one of Claims 13-17, wherein the controller' is operative to download location data relating to the location reporting device from an internet server if short range communications with the location reporting device is

lost/intemtpi d.

1 , A locating tracking device as claimed in. any one of Claims 13-1.8» wherein the .location data is GPS location data uploaded by the location reporting device.

20. A loeating tracking device as claimed in any one of Claims 13-19* wherein the controller is operative to calculate an estimate separation distance between the location tracking device and location repotting device ui-tlb.bg the downloaded location data and data received from the satellite location receiver, a».d display the estimated separation distance on the display screen,

2.1 , A locating tracking device as claimed in any one of Claims 13-20, wherein, the location tracking dcviee includes ¾ directional sensor, and wherein the contfolter is operative to calculate a direction to the location reporting device and display it on the screen.

Description:
HTLE OF INVENTION

Location Reporting .Device, Tracking System and Method TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to location reporting devices, as well as systems and methods for locating and tracking such devices,

[0002] The invention is particularly adapted for use by a parent or guardian to keep track of a child,, although many other applications are also possible *

[0003] It will be convenient to hereinafter describe the invention in relation to a parent and child scenario, however it should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to that application only,

BACKGROUND

[0004] It is to he appreciated that any iscussion of documents, acts or knowledge is included in this specification merely to explain the context of the present invention. Further, the discussion ihronghout this specification comes about doe to the realisation of the inventor and o the identification of certain related art problems by the inventor.. As such, any discussion, of materia], such as documents, acts or knowledge i this specification is included to explain the conte t, of the invention, in terms of the inventor's knowledge and experience and, accordingly,, any such .discussion should not be taken as an admission that any of the material forms part of the prior art base or the common general knowledge in the relevant art in Australia., or elsewhere, on or before the priority date of the disclosure and claims herein.

[0005] Locating devices that employ radio signals have been in use in various fields including radio beacon systems for air craft landing and .more recently with satellite based location using GPS or eqiuvaieivt systems. These have typically been used in situations where power is readily available. An exa le of this is ear and mobile asset trackin OPS systems. Portable GPS systems and those employed with mobile devices drain batteries veiy quickly and s are often used in conj unction with a charging facility. An example of this is the Tom Torn GPS system for cars which expects to be plugged into tire accessory circuit to maintain charge when operating. Although battery operated GPS tracking de ices are kn w , they are usually of low accuracy, long interval between r adings or the store their readings in a data lo and upload them, only when hack at a base station. The eonihmatioo of small physical size, long battery life, accurate location, timeliness of access to location information, intentional connection to a srnartphone and ease of use has proven unachievable in prior devices making them onsnceessfei commercially.

[0006] US 7.228.121 describes a message system in which police send a missing child message to a large number of mobile phone s ubscribers, if the subscriber replies his p one generates a reply message to the police message. Ills reply can. include location dat and maybe visual data but once fully composed it is automatically returned to the police, This is an observer/police interaction whereas the parent wants a device which locates the child an provides location data to the parent,

[0007] in view of the foregoing, it is desired to address or ameliorate one or more

disadvantages or limitations associated with the prior art, or to at least provide a useful alternative.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0008] In accordance with the present invention there is provided a location reporting device including a receiver for receiving- short range -radio signal communications, a satellite location, receiver, a cellular communications, transmitter and a controller operative to monitor signals received by the short range receiver and responsive to a condition of said signals to activate the satellite location receiver and transmit, using the cellular transmitter;, location information derived from the -satellite location receiver. [0009] The receiver for receiving short, range radi signal conimnmeations m y be in the form of a Bluetooth transceiver. The satellite location recei ver may comprise a OPS receiver. The controller may be operative to activate the GPS receiver and; cellular transmitter hi response to a ■command signal received from a paired Bluetoot transceiver, or in response to a loss of Bluetooth signal link with the paired Bluetooth transcei ver,

[0 10] in accordance with the present invention there is also provided a location repartiiig device for use with a portable computin device having a -short range radio transceiver, the location reporting device including a receiver for receiving short, range radio signal

communications {torn the portable computing device, a satellite location receiver, a cellular coniraunications transmitter and a controller operative to monitor signals received b the short range receiver aad responsive to a condition of said signals to activate the satellite location receiver and transmit * using the cellular transmitte , location information derived from the satellite location receiver, f 001 11 The short range radio co m unicatians may comprise Bluetooth of B hieto oth Smart communications. The satellite eommnmeatioBs receiver may be in the form of GPS receiver * The -cellular eomnmnicattens transmitter amy be in the form of transceiver circuit for communicating via commercial cellular telecommunications networks, suc as by 2G, 3G, 4G, GSM or other co nmimea ions protocols. 0012] The cellular transmitter may be operative to conmumieate said location information by digital data transfer to an internet server, The portable computing device may be an internet- enabled device, such as a sniartphone, tablet o the iike, capable of communicating wiih said internet server to retrieve said location information therefrom. The portable computing device may also b equipped with a GPS location receiver, and be adapted by way of app software to provide indications of the relative locations- of the portable computing deviee and location reporting device.

[0013] hi one form of the invention, the location reporting device and portable computing device are paired by establishment of a Bluetooth short range radio communications link. If the controller senses a. loss of Bluetooth communications link with the paired computing device, indicating a separation distance between the devices thai is greater than the Bluetooth

communications range, the controller functions to activate the satellite location receiver, in the form of a GPS receiver, and communicate data indicating its location via cellular

communications.

[0014] In accordance with the resent invention there is also provided a method for tracking and/or locating a portable reporting device using a portable computing device, wherein the portabl reporting device includes a short range radio signal transceiver, a GPS location receiver, a cellular data transmitter and a controller, and wherein the portable computing device includes a short range radio signal transceiver, a OPS location receiver, a cellular data transceiver and a display screen, the method .including establishing a short range radio signal link between the computing device and re-porting device, determining, by a condition of the short range radio signal link, if the reporting, device and computing device become separated from one another by greater than a prescribed aniennt, in response to the separation determination, activating the reporting device OPS location receiver and cellular transmitter, and periodically uploading data indicating the reporting device location derived from the GPS receiver by way of th cellular transmitter to an internet accessible server, downloading the data indicating the reporting device location to the portable computing device and providing a visual indication on the portable computing device display screen of the relati ve locations of the portable computing device and reporting device.

10015] hi accordanc with a further aspect of the invention there is provided a location tracking device for use with a location reporting device, including a short ran e radio signal transceiver for short range communications with the location reporting device, a cellular communications transceiver, a satellite location receiver, a. display screen and a controller operative to monitor short range communications with the location reporting device, calculate an estimated proximity distance therefrom and display the estimated proximity distance on th display screen.

[0016] Further scope of applicability of embodiments of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed, description given hereinafter. However, i should be understood that the detailed description and specific- examples, w ile indicating preferred embodlnrcnts of the tiwentkm, are given by way oflllwstratiqrs only, since various changes and modifications within the spirit and scope of the -disclosure herein ill become apparent to those skiiled i the art from this detailed description.

Advantageous Effects of Invention

[0017] I . Tbe device carried In the child's clothing is in a waterproof shell 90 50 x $mm which is easily transferable from- garment to garment .

[0018] 2, The device referred to above can be inductively charged.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0019] Further disclosure, objects, advantages and aspects of preferred and otter embodiments of the present application may be better .understood by those skilled in the rele vant art by reference- to the following description o embodiments taken in conjunction with the

accompanying drawings, which are given by way of illustration only, and thus- are not limitative of the disclosure herein, and in which:

[0020] Figure I ¼ a hmetiona! block diagram of a. location reporting device constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0021] Figures 2 and 3 are diagrammatic illustrations of a location reporting device with, a paired sniartphone in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0022] Figure is a diagrammatic illustration of a system for operation of the location reporting device according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0023] Figure 5 is a state diagram illustrating- functional states involved in operatio of a location reporting device. [0024] Figures 6A, 6B S 6C ¾ 6D, 6Έ and 6F are flowchart diagrams illustrating functionality of an. app operatin on smariphone for use with a location reporting device.

[0025] Figures 7 A, 7B, 7C are sereenshot from a s artphone app,

D ' ESCRM r nO:N OF EMBODIMENTS

[0026] |5tiibodl«j »is of. the ifiveiitkat are escribed herein below mcl«di«g a location reporting device m well as systems and methods for its operation. A particular miplementation of the location reporting device Is described which, in the interests of s m lic ty * is referred to herein as a tag.

[0027] Although other applications for the described technology are ossible, the primary focus for the purposes of the following description is a device and system for monitoring th proximit of a child to their parent or guardian, which permits the parent or guardian to locate the child if they become separated, Thus the general purpose of the tag and the related systems and methods is fo keep track of and/or enable the location, of a person or item carrying the tag. lit the application described, ifor example, the tag is adapted to be carried by a child so that a parent or guardian i s able to track or locate the tag-carrying child in the event they become separated from one another. The ag may be used, for example, in conjunction with a. si arlphone or like device carried by th parent or guardian.

[0028] The general operation of the tag relies on several wireless communications systems. The manner in which the tag operates is designed to provide the required eommunicaiions functionality whilst minimizing electrical power requirements. This enables the- physical size of the tag. Includin its battery, to he small so that if may be more easily carried by a child,

[0029] In particular, the tag incorporates both GPS receiver and a cellular data

communications circuit, each of which has relatively high electrical power consumption when operational To minimize electrical power consumption, therefore, the tag acts to only activate those power-hungry circuits when necessary in prescribed circum tances. The prescribed circumstances -are determined by use of another wireless .communications system that draws substantially less battery power,

[0030] In orde to further describe the tag and its operation, reference is made to Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings whic is ft block diagram of the mam ftmetfcmai components of a tag 1 that operates as a location reporii tig device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The tag 10 includes three eo mnnieatk s circuits: a GPS receiver circuit 60, a cellular data transceive circuit 50, and a Bluetooth transceiver circuit 40. Operation of the commtTOieations circuits is coordinated and controlled by a microprocessor control circuit 20. Electrical po er fo the circuits is provided by power supply ci cuitr 30.

[003 ! I The Bluetooth circuit 40 in this case utilises an integrated circuit that provides Bluetooth Smart eonumuHcatton capability, also known as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), For brevity BLE will be used from here on to describe Bluetooth communications. The particular device employed is an nRF51822 Bluetooth Smart, and 2.4GBz multiprotocol system-on-ehip, available from Nordic Semiconductor. This integrated circuit device includes a po wer optimized ARM. processor that serves to function, as the microprocessor control circuit 20. The Bluetooth transceiver circuit is coupled to an antenna 44 for receiving and transmitting radio signals. The antenna 44 may be an ACA-1 Q1 ceramic chip antenna available from Abraco Corporation, for example.

[0032] Similarly, both the GPS and cellular communications functions are provided by a single integrated circuit,, in this case a L1C20-G available from Quecteh This integrated circuit incorporates both a. GPS receiver 62 and a 3G GSM modem 52. The GPS receiver is coupled to an antenna 66 (eg * W3O11A GPS ceramic chip antenna available front Pulse Electronics) b way of an amplifier circuit 64. such as a Max2659 GPS GNSS low noise amplifier available from Maxim integrated. The cellular modem 52 may utilise, for example, an A 10303 Rubra penta- ban HMD antenna 58:,, available from Antenova Ltd. Additionally, the cellular modem 52 is coupled to a SIM card 54 that provides network subscriber identification in known fashion. o the purposes of interconnection between the cellular modem 52 and the control circuit 20, a level shifter circuit 56 is employed,, such as a TXB01O8 8-bit bi-directional voltage level translator available from Tex s Instruments.

[0033] The power supply circuitry 30 includes a lithiuni^poiytner battery 34 to ovide electrical power for the tag, A battery capacity of 50G--700.tnAB.r should be sufficient to accommodate 12 hours of device operation. To enable the tag to be nmnufaetitred as a fully sealed unit for robust and durable operation,, a wh¾less¼ftery charging system is employed,, based o.n a Texas instruments BQ51.050B. Qi (WPG) compliant highly integrated secondary-side direct lithium ion charger circuit 32, The wireless charging system also has a Qi receiver coil 36, When the tag is placed proximate to a compatible powe transmission ad, the receiver coil provides electrical ower to charge the battery via resonant inductive coupling. The power supply circuit as sho wn also includes a voltage regulator 38 to ensure stable electrical supply to the tag circuits.

[0O34J The tag as described above is typically used in conjunction with a mobile device such as a smartphone. The normal mode of use employs the low power consumption BLE transceiver in the tag to pair with a BLB transceiver m the smartphone, to act as a form of electronic leash. The siMttlphone uses a software app to monitor the Bluetooth, link with the tag, and the tag control circuit similarly monitors the Bluetooth link with the paired smartphone. In general., whilst the Bluetooth communications link between the smartphone and tag " is available, the Qf$ and cclliuar communications circuits are turned off. Since the BLE system is designed to use minimal ower* the tag can operate for an extended period of time on a single battery charge,

[0035] The BLE is a relatively short range radio communications system.,, having a range of up to around 100 metres depending on its configuration and the particular circumstances and; terrain in. which it operates, If the ta and smartphone become separated by a distance that exceeds the BLE range, the- communications link is lost When the tag processor determines that the BLE link has been lost* it acts to turn on the GPS receive and cellular communications circuits. The tag processor then obtains GPS location data from the GPS receiver aiid transmits the location information by way of the cellular transcei ver to a secure internet server. The GPS location is determined and transmitted periodically (eg, every 30 seconds) until the BLE link is reestablished. Q ] The electronic leash functionality of the tag is illustrate diagranwriatical!y in Figures 2 and 3. In Figure 2 the sniartphone 80 has a LE connn un ί cations range represented by dashed circle 85. Whilst the tag 10 remains within that ran e it is able to maintain a BLE

communications link 49 -with the paired smartphone. When operating irs. this mode* the GPS and cellular conmrutd cation circuits of the ta can remain off (unless activated on comma d from the smaiiphone, as detailed further below),

[0037] if the tag 10 strays outside of the range 85, as illustrated in Figure 3, then the BLE comunrnieatiofts link between the phone 80 and tag 10 is lost, hi tills circumstance the tag: operates to activate the GPS and cellular communications circuits, The tag is then able to determine its location using received GPS signals 69, and transmit that location info iatipn to a secure server using cellular communications ' 59, As described further below, the srnarlphone app is able to retrieve the location information relating to the tag 10 from the secure server, also using cellular communications ' 89.

[0038] The system including the tag 10 in its active location reporting mode is illustrated, diagrammatieatly in Figure 4, In this case the GPS and .cellular communications circuits of the tag have been activated. The tag 1 receives GPS signals 69 from multiple satellites, ' which signals are decoded by the GPS receiver to determine information, about the location of the tag. The location information is transmitted using digital cellular communications 59 to a

telecommunications cell transceiver 90, which transfers the data via internet eonimirnieations 92 to the secure server 95, Meanwhile the smartphone 80 is also able to use cellular

communications 89 to access the reported location of the tag 10.

[0039] Operation of the tag is controlled by computer program code stored in on-board memory ib -execution by the microprocessor control unit 20. A state diagram 100 indicating how the tag is controlled to function between various operating states, including those described above, is shown in Figure 5, initially the fag, as shipped; is unallocated (state 102). To- lace the tag. in a condition for use, it is paired, with -a smariphone using a registration procedure of the s-martphone app. This pairs the tag. with the smartphone app by storing the identity of the tag i the phone and the identity of the phone in the tag. For the purposes of the Bluetooth link, the MAC address of the Bluetooth Interface may be used for the phone and tag to identify one another.

[0040] Bach tag is also provided with a unique ID code at the time of manufacture, and the tag ID is associated with an account established on the secure server. Each account has a unique identification serial number also, and more than one tag may he associated with a single account When a tag is added to an account, the tag ID is stored in the account record on the server, and the account number is .stored in the tag. Once a tag is allocated to an account, it stays with that account Tims, the system links two separate ID codes and uses them as a pair, The tag has its ID and also holds the ID of the account it belongs to. Only a mobile device (eg, sniartphone) that knows the account number can pair with the corresponding iag(s). State 104 represents the tag ottce it has been: paired with a -smartphone device.

[0041 j in state 106 the tag is passive with no pair, either through being unpaired by way of the smariphone app, or through loss of Bluetooth signal in this ease the tag is inactive and not in use. The smsrtphone app, communicating with the tag via .Bluetooth, can revive the tag to the paired state 1 4, State 108 represents the tag whilst its battery is being recharged, in this case it Is also not necessary for the tag to he paired with the siiiartphone.

[0042] From the paired state 104 the sniartphone app ca set the tag Into an active state 1 10. In this state e tag control circuit -actively monitors the Bluetooth link with its paired sniartphone, if a loss of Bluetooth signal Is detected the tag enters state 1 14 m w eh the GPS- nd cellular communications circuits are active and utilised to report location information, to the server, l re server, for its part, stores the location information received in tire corresponding account,

[0043] The system also permits the sniartphone app to activate the tag' location reporting functions whilst the Bluetooth link is still operational In this ease the tag enters operating state 1 12.

[0044] The main purpose of the ta is to enable a user with the smartphone app to keep track of or locate: the tag, or more particularly lite person or object, carrying the tag. On the phone side, for tracking or locating the tag the ap has three operational screens, shown in Figures ?A > 7B ί\ηά 7€.

[0045] Figure 7 A illustrates tSie "sonar screen '' '. The sonar sc een may be used in the app whilst the smaiiphone-.and tag are paired and remain in eonmrunieation by ay of the B luetooth link. The son screen provides an animated indication that the tag is still withi Bluetooth range, along wi th an esti mate of the proximity distance of the tag to the phone. In this case the proximit distance is estimated by the app using Bluetooth signal intensity. The- specific technique used measures the path loss which uses the transmitted power levels compared to the received power levels and so a calculation of the likely distance can be done more accurately than j nst using received signal strength n its own, A maximu separation distance can be set in the a p, wherein if the estimated distance to the tag exceeds the set maximum an alert is raised to inform the user. This may he effective to prevent further se aration because, for exam le- the parent or guardian will respond to the alert while the child (and tag) is still nearby, in a crowded situation * for example, where the child (and tag) is nearby but not readily sighted,, the phone app can he used to push, a message to the tag over Bluetooth to tell the tag to go felly active and begin reporting location information (eg. eater te 112 in Figure 5),

[0046] When the ta is foll active and reporting location n o mation* either because of Bluetooth signal loss or direct instruction .from the smartphone, the tag periodically pushes its identity and current location to the secure web server. The smartphone can then request this inforrnation tor that tag. For security purposes a user name and password authentication ma be required, a well, as tile account ID stored in the app. Having- obtained the latest location information, for the la from the corresponding server account, the phone app provides two foriher operational screens for tracking and locating the tag,

[0047] Figure 7B illustrates the "compas screen" which displays a direction arrow and proximity distance- to the tag in metres of separation, in order to provide this display the phone app utilises the ta location mf rmation obtained from the server (or communicated to the phone from the tag via BLE if in range) together with the location of the phone itself Depending on the particular phone, its location. may ' be determined by in-built GPS or cell tower triangu!aiion or other means as may be available. Using great circle distance mathematics, the two location points (tag md phone) can be used to calculate the distan e se ara in them nd the direction front one point to another. Then, using an hvbuilt directional sensor (eg. compass function) from the smartphone allows the com ass screen to display th arrow correctly pointing in the direction of the tag from the phone, and reposition the arrow as the phone ndfor teg arc moved.

[0048] Figure 7C illustrates the "map screen" which can utilise a Google map, for example, to sho the locations of both the phone and tag. This may he particularly useful for tracking movement of the tag over time, or navigating terrain between the phone and tag. When the tag is actively reporting location, information the phone app can be switched between the compass screen and imp screen at the user's discretion,

[0049] Once the tag is back within Bluetooth range of the phone, it is programmed to stay fully active until the phone app directs it to turn off the GPS and ee!iuiar communicat on circuits and return to its ready active mode (eg. state 1 1 Q)> A directive from the ap to change the ta state from 112 to state 110 (Figure 5) is at the discretion of the user, which might typically be done when the tag. (child or object) is actually within sight or within reach, not just within Bluetooth range.

[0050] Figures 6A-F are flowchart diagrams illustrating functionality of the smartphone app for use with the tag as outlined above. Figure 6A outlines the steps involved in establishing an operative association betwee the smartphone, tag and user' account. For this procedure to run the user oust have launched the app and tried to ac ivate a tag. Closing the app will terminate the process,

[0051. J The procedure 200 shown in Figure 6A is initiated at step 202. Operation 204 involves pairing the smartphone with a particular tag, which is conducted as described hereinabove. If the pairing operation 206 is successful then the tag is assigned to a child (operation 208) * for example bein linked to a user account, it can display a list of the children on that account so that -one can be assigned. If eitherof the pairing or assignment operations are unsuccessful for sonic reason * for example the tag is already paired to another device or the user supplied account information is wrong, then the app displays a corresponding error message 218, 222 and the process templates 220. Once an assignment is successfully " completed 210 then the app provides the user with an opportunit to set an activation range at operation 212, ti the user elects to input an activation range 214, the app perforins a set range: routine 230 (illustrated m Figure 6B},. The procedure 200 is completed at step 216 wherein the tag is assigned and ready for use with the smartphone app as described further hereirthe ovv.

|0052] The set range routine 230 shown in Figure 6B is initiated by the app at step 232.

Operation 234 allows the user to input desired activation range in metres, which is stored by the app tor use whilst the smartphone and tag are :in Bluetooth eoniniunicatiisn. Ones the range has been set the ap returns to its previous operational mode or state 236»

[00531 Figure 6€ illustrates the app procedure 240 thai is carried out when the tag; is determined, to he outside of the range set by the user. The app uses- Bluetooth signal strength, for example, to determine when tire tag strays outside of the set range 242, whereupon ' the app sounds- an alarm to n ify the user 244, Following the alarm notification the user is presented with a number of selectable options as to how to proceed 250, The user selectable options incl ude Locate, Snooze, Silence and Adj ust, ' Select on of the Snooze option causes the app to wait tor one minute 254 before sounding the alarm again. Selection of the Adjust ' option provides the use with the opportunity to adjust the activation range 252, as previously described. Selection of the Silence option silences- the alarm and communicates with the tag to place the tag in its active state, if the Locate option is selected 258, the app proceeds to execute a Bluetooth Locate function, the operations of which: are shown in Figure 6E and described below,

[0054] Figure 6D illustrates the app procedure 260 that is carried out when there is a loss of Bluetooth .communications, between tire smartphone and tire tag. Upon determination of a Bluetooth signal loss 262, the ap sounds an alarm to -notify the user 264. Following the alarm notification the user is presented with a. number of selectable options as to how to proceed 266, The user selectable- options include Locate. Snooze and Silence. Selection of the Snooze opt ion causes the app to wait for one minute 268 before sounding the alarm again. Selection of the Silence option silences the alarm and causes the process to stop 270. If the Locate option is selected 272. the ap proceeds to execute a GPS Locate "function, the operations of which are shown in Figure (IF and described below.

[0055] The Bluetooth Locate procedure 280 is illustrated in Figure 6E, initiated at step 282, The Bluetooth Locate function utilises Bluetooth signal strength, for example, to calculate the approximate separation between the Sratrtphone and tag 284 as described above. The calculated distance is displayed to the user 286 on the proximity "sonar screen * ' (Figure 7A). While in this mode the app is receptive to iiser input flags 288 sueh as to switch display mode screens, send the tag to GPS mode, or an indication that the child has been located (child found). If no Input flags are detected the app periodically recalc l tes the proximity of the tag to the smartphone 284 and updates the display 286, If the child found flag is received the tag is placed in active mode 290. if the user input directs the app to initiate GPS mode 292, the app continues to update the proximit screen until the GPS Locate function is suceessiidly established 294, Operations involved in the GPS Locate procedure are sh wn in Figure -& and described below,

[0056] T he GPS Locate procedure 300 is illustrated in Figure 6F, initiated at step 302, The mode of the app is performed once the tag has been set to fully active, wherein the tag periodical ly reports its G PS location via cellular communications to the server as previously described. The app contacts the server to obtain the GPS location dat 304 reported by the tag. Utilising , the smartphone's own GPS location, the app calculates the distance to the latest reported locatka* of the tag 306. If the calculated distance is less than a predetermined amount (eg. 200 metres) the app may use the compass screen (Figure ?B) to display the tag distance and direction to the user 308. If the calculated distance to the tag is greater than the predetermined amount the ap may use the map screen (Figure 7C) display the tag location to the user relative to the smartphone location 310. The app waits a short period (eg. five seconds as indicated at 312) before obtaining updated tag location data from the server 14, While in this mode the user is able to select which display view to us 316, which does not interrupt the GPS location operation. Once the tag gets within Bluetooth communication range the ap may switch to the Bluetooth Locate mode 318 as above described.

[0057] There are several features that the system described herein utilises to minimise the time to find a lost or separated child (tag). These include; | ' 05S] (a) The phone app warns the user when ' se aration distance reaches a preder sinin threshold, so. that action can be taken immediately. 0059} (h) The OPS and location reporting goes active as soon as the Bluetooth, link is lost,

[0060] (e) GPS almanac data is downloaded to the tag on a. regular basis to minimise the GPS start up time.

[0061 j Th third point is related to Assisted GPS, and some imdmtanding is required in order to appreciate the significance of this feature. The GPS satellites emit signals that are used to calculate the receiver position. However the satellites are not in perfect orbits, so they drift and as a result, their actual orbits vary from the perfect or ideal orbit. The actual orbits are kept track, of and stored in an almanac. This almanac is used to do the calculations to dete.nn.ine location based on where the satellites reall are at the time.

[0062] (IPS units typically receive a copy of the almanac via one of two methods. The data is embedded in the signal coming fens the satellites themselves and downloaded in chunks over a period of about 20 minutes. Usin this method, hi the best case, turning a GPS unit on thai has been off for a while will lead to -it finally outputtiag its position after at least 20 minutes has gone by.

[ 0063 j Alternatively the almanac can be read from an Internet service and loaded, into the GPS to save time. This is the method employed in the tag according to embodiments of the present invention, because no-one wants to potentially wait 20.minutes before the tag starts to work.. To save even more time, the almanac for the lag is either downloaded overnight while the unit is charging or from the phone via the phone app. Overnight has the advantage that the tag connects with the web. service and it is known to be still active.

[ΟΟό ' 4 ' j Physically, it is advantageous for the tag to be small. so that it can be easily carried by a youn child, for example. Therefore the teg of the described embodiment has been designe with art aim ofnu¾m¾ g- the size of the device whilst maintaining the desired operating characteristic and sing!e-olrarge openting time. One of the aspects of the design that works toward that goal is the selection of components, such as Integrate circuits that are able to perform- more than one of the tag's primary- functions. A further feature of the invention is the iacilit which enables the child to signal to the parent that an emergency exists. The tag has a button which when pressed sends a call to the parent containing an automated message revealing an emergency which the parent receives when he/she picks up their mobile phone. The emergency could be an injury, an asthma attack or an abduction. The parent can then open the app„ determine the chikis location o the maps and theft decide whether to go to that location or call the police giving them location data.

[OOiSJ Another feature that enables production of a small device is .in fact the manner in which the ta is programmed t operate. Mi mizing- power consumption of the tag during normal use enables a smaller battery to he used, for a given period of use. Considering that the battery is ne of the heavies and bulkiest: components -of the tag, this means thai minimizing power consumption enables production of a smaller overall device size. As mentioned abo ve, the circuits that draw the most electrical power are the GPS receive and cellular transceiver circuits. Accordingly, the tag is programmed to only activate these circuits when required, such as when the tag detects it is outside of Bluetooth link range of its paired mobile device.

[0066] While this invention has been described m .connection with specific .embodiments thereof it will be understood that it Is capable of further This application is intended to cover any variations uses o adaptations of the invention following in general, the principles of the invention and including such departures from the present disclosure as come Within known or customary practice within the art to which the invention pertains and as may be applied to the essential features hereinbefore set forth,

[0067] As the present invention ma be embodied in several forms without departing from the spirit of t he essentia! characteristics of the invention, . -it should be understood that the above described embodiments are not to limit the present invention unless otherwise specified, but rather should be construed broadly within the spirit and seope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. The described embodiments are t be considered in all respects as illnstraiive only and not restrictive,

[0068] The following sections provide a guide to interpreting the present specification.

[0069] The term "product" means any machine., manufacture andiox composition of matter, unless .ex ressl specified otherwise.

[0070] The term "process* 5 means any process, algorithm, meihoxl or the like, unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0071] Each process (whether called a method, algorithm or otherwise) inherently includes one or more steps, and therefore ail references to a "step" or "steps" of a process have an inherent antecedent basis in the mere recitation of the term 'process ' or a like term. Accordingly, any reference in a claim to a 'step 5 or 'steps' of a process has sufficient antecedent: basis.

[0072] The term "invention" and the like mean "the one or more inventioiis disclosed in this specification",, unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0073] The terms "an embodiment", "embodiment", "embodiments", "the embodiment", " he embodiments-', "one or more embodimeitts", "some embodiments", "certain embodiments' ' , "one embodiment", "another embodiment" and the like mean "o or more (but not ail) embodiments of the disclosed inventio.n(s}", unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0074] The term "variation" of an invention means an embodiment of the invention,, unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0075] A reference to ''another embodiment" in describin an embodiment does not imply that the referenced embodiment Is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (eg, an embodimen described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified oiherwi.se.

|0076j The terms "tnckdmg * *, "comprising" avid variations thereof mean ' ncluding but not limited to", unless expressly specified otherwise,

[0077] The terms "a", "an" and "the" mean "one or more'', unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0078] The term "plurality" means "two or more'', nless expressly specified otherwise.

[0079] The term "h rein" means "in the present specification, including anything which may be incorporated by reference^ unless ex ressly specified otherwise.

[0086] The phrase "at least one of * , when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things), means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase "at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel" means either (1) a widget, (a) a car, (in) a wheel,, (tv) a widget and a car. (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and wheel, r (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel. The phrase "at Ieast one of, when such phrase modifies a plurality of tfrinp, does not mean "one of each of the plurality of things.

[0081.3 Numerical terms such as "one", "two '5 , etc. when used as cardinal numbers to indicate quantit of something (eg. one widget, two widgets) mea the quantity indicated by that numerical term, but do not mean at least the quantit indicated by that numerical term. For example, the phrase "one widget" does not: mean "at least one widget", and therefore the phrase "one widget" does not cover, eg, two widgets.

[0082] The phrase "based on' 5 does not mean "based only on", unless expressly specified otherwise. I other words* the phrase "based on" describes both w bas©d onl on" and "based, at least on", The phrase "based at least oft" is equivalent to the phrase "based at least in part on". [0083] The term "represent *5 and l ke terms are not exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the term "represents" do not m an "represents only", unless expressly specified otherwise- In other words, the phrase "the data represents a credit card number ' describes both "th data represents only a credit card number" and "the data represents a credit card number and the data also represents something else",

[0084] The- term "whereby" is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the mteitded result, objectiye or consequence of something that is previously nd explicitly recited. Thus, when the term "whereby" is used in a claim* the clause or other words that the term "whereby" modifies do not establish specific former limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of t he claim.

[0085] The term "eg." and like- terms mean "for example", and thus does not limit the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence "the computer sends data (eg. instructions, a data structure.) over the internet'', the term "e ," explains that * %stwctions ? ' are an example of "data" thai the computer may send over the Internet, and also explains thai "a data structure" is an example of "data." that the computer ma send ever the Internet However, both

"instructions" and "a data struct are" are merely examples of "dafa w f and other things besides "instructions" and "a data structure" can be "data".

[0086.] The term "i.e." and like terms mean "that is", and thus limits the terra or phrase it explains. Fo example, in the sentence "the computer sends data (ie. instry.eti.ons) over the Internet'*,, the term "ie." explains that "instructions'' are the "data" that the computer sends over the Internet.

[0087] Any given numerical. ' range shall include whole and fractions of numbers within, the range. For example, the range. "1 to 10" shall be interpreted to specifically include whole numbe s between 1 and 10 (eg. 2. 3, 4, . . . 9) and non-- whole numbers (eg. 1.1, 1.2, , . . .1.9). Determmfog f O SS) The term "determining" and grammatical variants thereof (eg,- to determine a price, determining a value, determine a object which meets a certain .criterion) is used -in an extremely broad sense. The term ' le ermtrsing" encompasses a wide variety of actions and therefore

"determining" can include calculating, computing/processing, derivin , investigating, looking up (eg, looking up in a table, a database or another data structure), sscertahuBg and the like. Also, "determining" can include receiving (eg, receiving infrjrrn tion), accessing (eg, accessing data in a memory and the like, Also, * 'determining" can include resolving, selecting, choosing, establishing, and the like.

[0089] The term "determining" does not imply certainty o absolute precision, and therefore ''determining'* can include estimating, extrapolating, predicting, guessing and the like,

[0090] The term "detenming" does not imply that mathematical processing must be performed, and docs not imply that rouuerieal met ods must be used, and does not imply that an algorithm or process is used,

[00 1] The term, "determining" does not imply thai any particular device must be used. For example, a computer need not necessarily perform the determining. indication

[0092] The term. ' ndication" is used hi. a extremely broad sense. The term 'indication*' may, among other things, encompas a sign, symptom, or token of something else.

[0093] The term "indieatioit" may he used to refer 1 to any Indicia and/or other information indicative of or associated w th a subject, item, entity, and/or other object and/or idea,

[0094] As used herein, the phrases "information indicative op and 'indicia" may be used to refer to any information that represents, describes, and/or Is otherwise associated with a related entity, .subject, or object,

[0095] Indicia of information may include, for example . , a code, a reference, a link, a signal, an identifier, and/or any combination thereof and/or an other informative representation associated with the information,

[0096] In some embodiments, indicia of information (or indicative of the information) may be or include the information itself and/or any portion o component of the information. In some embodiments, an indication may include a inques , a solicitation, a broadcast, and/or any other form of information gathering and/or dissemination.

Forms of Sentences

[0097] Where a limitation of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than .one of a feature (eg, a limitation such as *'at least one widge " covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article "the" to refer to. the limitation (eg. "the widget"), this does not Imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (eg, "the widget" ca cover both one widget and more than one widget).

[0098] When an ordinal number (such as "first", "second", "third" and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular fe ture from another feature that i described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a "first widget" may be so named merely to distinguish It from, eg. "second widget". Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers "first" and "second" before the term "w gef " does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of eithe or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers "first" and "second" beibre the term "'widget" (I) does not indicate that either widget comes beibre or after any oilier In order or locatio ; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after amy other i time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition,, the mere us ge of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit t the features identified with, the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere ags of the ordinal numbers "first" mid "second" before the term "widget" does not indicate thai there must he n more than two widgets. j : 0O99] When a single device or article Is described herein, more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively fee used in place of the single device/article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed fey a devke m y alternatively be possessed by mom than one device/article (whether or not. they cooperate).

[01 OS] Similarly, where more tha on device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single deviee/article may alternatively he used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by mere, than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single deviee/article.

[0101] The functionality and/or the features of a ' single device tha is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are described tot: are not explicitly described as having such iimetionahty/feaiures. Thus . , other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more othe devices which would, in those otte embodiments, have such fimellonality/featares.

Disclosed Examples and Ί enninology Are Not .Limiting

[0102] Neither the Title nor the Abstract in this specification is intended to b taken as limiting hi any way as the scope of the disclosed mveniion(s). The title and headings of sections provided hi the specification are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as Ih iiting the disclosure in any way. fOl 03] Numerous embodiments may be described in the present application, and are presented for illnstmiive purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to he f limiting in an sense. The p esentl disclosed inventions) are widely applicable to numerous eird3odi.ffi.eiHs, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill, in the art will recognize that the disclosed: i»ventio«(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such m structural, logical, software,, and electrical modifications. Although particular featttres of the disclosed inventio s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that swell features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.

[0.104] The present disclosure is not a literal description of ail embodiments of the iftvention(s). Also,, the present disclosure is no a li stin g of features of the invention(s) which must be present in all embodiments,

[0 J 05] Devices that are described as in conirimuicatlon. with each other need not be in continuous commtKEtication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need, only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain front exchanging data .most of the time. For example, a machine in

communication with another machine via. the Internet ma not transmit data to the other machine for long period of time (eg. weeks at a time). In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may commttn!eaie directly or Indirectly through one or more intermediaries.

[0106] A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components/ieamres are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variet of possible embodiments of the present inventions}, Unles otherwise specified explicitly, no component/feature is essential or required.

[0107] Although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a particular sequential order, such processes ma he configured to work in different orders, in other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order, The steps erf processes described herein may be performed in any order practical Further, some steps may be performed simuUaneousiy despite being described or implied as occurring non-simiiltaoeoiisly (eg. because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does .not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does no imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention^), and does not mply that the illustrated process is preferred,

[ 108 ] Although, a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does .not imply that all or any of the steps are preferred., essential or required. Various other embodiments wfthiti the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise speci fied explicitly, no step is essential or required.

[0109] Although & process may he described singly or withou reference to other products or methods, in an. einbodi nent the process may interact with other product or methods. For example, such interaction may include linking one business model to another business model Such interaction may be provided to enhance the flexibility or desirability of the process.

[01 10] Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indica te thai any or all of t he pluralit are preferred, essential or required. V arious other embodi ments -within t he scope of the described invention^) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.

[01 1 1 J An enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the ite are mutually exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. Likewise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are comprehensive of any category, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example,, the enumerated list "a computer, a laptop, a PDA" does not imply that an or ail of the three items of that list are mut ual ly exclusive and does not imply that any or all of the three Items of that list are comprehensive of any category. 5

{ 01 121 An enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply thai any or all of the ileitis ate ejpiv¾lent to each other or readi l substituted for each oilier.

[0.1 13 j Ail embodiments are illustrative, and do not imply thai the invention or any

embodiments were made or performed, as the ease may be.

Computing

[0 ! 14] It will he readi ly apparent to one of ordinary skill i the art thai the various processes described herein may be implemented by, eg. appropriately programmed general purpose computers* special purpose com ute s and computing devices. Typically a processor (eg. one or more microprocessors, one or more microcontrollers, one or more digital signal processors) will receive instructions (eg, from a. memory or like device) and execute those insirnetlons, thereb performing one or more processes defined by those instructions.

[01 15 j A "processor' means one or more microprocessors, central processing units (CPUs), computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices or any

combination thereof, i 01 16] Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of an apparatus for performing the process. The apparatus thai performs the process can include, eg. a processor and those input devices and output devices that are appropriate to perform the process,

[ 1 17] Further, programs that implement such methods (as well as ot her types of data) may be stored and transmi tted using a variety of media (eg, computer readabl e media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, .hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used i place of, or in combination with, some or all of the software instructions that can implement the processes of vario us embodiments. Thus, various combinations of hardware and software may be nsed instead of software only.

[0i 18] The term "computer-readable medium" refers to any medium, a plurality of the same, or a combination of different media, that participate in providing data (eg. mstructions* data structures) which may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example* optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include dynamic random access memory (DRAM) which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a. system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during radio frequency (RP) and ' infrared (I.R) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example * a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM* DVT ) , any other optical medium, punch cards,, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, PROM, an BFROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any oilier memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.

[01 19] Various forms of computer readable media may be involved, hi carrying data (eg.

sequences of instructions) to a processor. For example, data may be (i) delivered from RAM to a processor; (ii) carried over a wireless transmission medium; .(lit) formatted and/or transmitted aecording to numerous formats, standards -or protocols, such as Ethernet, (or IEEE 802.3), SAP, ATP, Bluetooth™, and TCP IP, TDMA, CDMA, and 30; and/or (iv) encrypted to ensure privacy or prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art.

[0120] Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of a eompitter-readafele medium storing a program for performing the process. The computer-readable medium can store (in any appropriate format) those program elements which ate appropriate to perform the method.

[0121] Just as the description of various steps in a process ' does not indicate that all. the described steps are required, embodiments of an apparatus include a computer/computing device operable to perform soine (but not necessarily all) of the described process. 7 J

[01:22] likewise,, just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are .required, embod ments of a computer-readable medium storing a program or data .structure include a computer-readable medium. storing a program thai, when executed, can cause a processor to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.

[01.23] Where databases are described, It will be understood by one of ordi nary skill hi the art- Chat (i) alternative database structures to those described, may be readily .employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed, Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of Mbmtatton. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, eg, tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only ; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries cat) be di fferent from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or beha viours of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner,, be stored locally or remotel from a device which accesses data in such a database.

[0124] Various embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in ..communication (eg. via a communications network) with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via any wired, or wireless medium (eg. the internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet * Token Ring, a telephone fine, a cable line, a radio channel,, an. optical eo muni cations line, commercial on-line service providers, bulletin board systems, a satellite communications link, a combination of any of the above). Each of the devices may themsel ves comprise computers or other computing devices that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of devices may be in conummkation with the computer.

[0125] it is to be understood that the. word "comprising" as used throughout the specification is to be interpreted In its Inclusive fotm, le. use ofthe word "coniprlshi " does not exclude the addition of other elements.

[0126] it is to be understood that various modifications of and/or additions to the hweation can ho matte without departing .from the basic nature of the invention. Those modifications and/or additions arc therefore considered to i¾ll within the scope of the invention-