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Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR LOCKING A VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/134037
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A Method and System for Vehicle Locking may comprise: at least one circuit board which is capable of connecting to a vehicle's existing circuitry, firmware installed on the at least one circuit board, and an external application operating on a separate device which may issue wirelessly issue commands to the at least one circuit board for controlling vehicle locking features. The system may be configured to automatically operate the vehicle's locks after a set period of time. The amount of time before the system automatically operates the vehicle's locks may be adjusted through the external application. The external application may also be capable of disabling the automatic locking functionality for a set period of time or issuing a command to operate the vehicle's locks on demand.

Inventors:
TREMBLAY, Richard (2685 Pierrette Drive, Cumberland, Ontario K4C 1B6, K4C 1B6, CA)
Application Number:
CA2019/050001
Publication Date:
July 11, 2019
Filing Date:
January 02, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
10092169 CANADA INC. (2685 Pierrette Drive, Cumberland, Ontario K4C 1B6, K4C 1B6, CA)
International Classes:
E05F15/77; E05B47/00; E05B83/36
Foreign References:
US20150048927A12015-02-19
US20040201277A12004-10-14
US20160325710A12016-11-10
US20100075655A12010-03-25
US10091633B22018-10-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOFFAT & CO. (P.O. Box 2088, Station DOttawa, Ontario K1P 5W3, K1P 5W3, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. An apparatus for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the apparatus comprising:

at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with:

a microcontroller,

at least a first electromechanical relay, the at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle,

at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle,

memory, and

a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a communication module, the

communication module adapted to provide wireless electronic communication with an external mobile device.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein at least one of the at least one first electromechanical relay further comprises a relay output the relay output in electrical communication with the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the relay output includes jumper configurations

configured to enable the relay output to generate at least one of a positive and a negative polarity pulse.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the power supply unit further comprises a low power linear voltage regulator.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising at least one power connectors adapted to connect the at least one circuit board to the existing circuit system of the vehicle.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising at least one debug connector in electronic communication with the at least one circuit board.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the at least one voltage sensitive input is an opto-isolated sensing inputs.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the at least one circuit board further comprises a protection circuit.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein at least one of the at least one first electromechanical relay is a double-pole-double-throw (DPDT) relay.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first electromechanical relay is a timed relay.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the timed relay is configured to activate the

electromechanical lock system of the vehicle after a predetermined period of time elapses.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein the timed relay is configured to activate the

electromechanical lock system of the vehicle after receiving a command from the external application.

14. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the at least one first electromechanical relay is at least a first electromechanically relay and a second electromechanically relay wherein the second electromechanically relay is a communication relay.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the communication relay is configured to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle after a command has been received from an external application.

16. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the at least one circuit board is situated in an enclosure, wherein the enclosure includes at least one of an opening for power to be input from the vehicle to the circuit board and an opening for jumper settings to be input to the electromechanical relays.

17. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising an external application operating on the external mobile device, the external application configured to wirelessly communicate with the at least one circuit board through the communication module to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for activating the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle.

18. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein the memory may be configured to store user

credentials associated with approved devices running the external application.

19. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the circuit board further comprises firmware installed on the at least one circuit board.

20. The apparatus of claim 19 wherein the firmware may comprise at least a main loop, subroutines, and interrupts.

21. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the main loop includes at least the following steps selected from the following group: initializing the hardware, resetting a watchdog timer counter, and calling timer handles.

22. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the subroutines are selected from the following group: detecting the presence of a power input, switching at least one output relay on and off, and handling communication operation upon detecting a button input.

23. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the interrupts are selected from the group on external application interrupts adapting for detect connection changes an external application, change interrupts adapted to detect input changes and event interrupts adapted to detect commands issued from an external application.

24. A system for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the system comprising:

an apparatus comprising at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with:

a microcontroller, at least a first electromechanical relay, the at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle, at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle, memory, a communication module, the communication module adapted to provide wireless electronic communication with an external mobile device, and a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board, an external application operating on the external mobile device, the external application configured to wirelessly communicate with the at least one circuit board through the communication module to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for activating the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle. 25. A method for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the method comprising the steps of:

Pairing an external mobile device with an apparatus, the apparatus comprising at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with a microcontroller, at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle, at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle, memory, a communication module adapted to provide wireless electronic communication with an external mobile device, and a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board, the external mobile device running an external application configured to wirelessly communicate with the at least one circuit board through the communication module to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for activating the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle; and Activating the at least a first electromechanical relay to activate electromechanical lock system of the vehicle.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of activating the at least a first

electromechanical relay to activate electromechanical lock system of the vehicle occurs after a predetermined period of time elapses.

27. The method of claim 25 further comprising the step of:

Receiving a command from the external mobile device to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle.

Description:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR LOCKING A VEHICLE

FIELD

[0001] This invention pertains generally to a system for locking and unlocking a vehicle. More specifically, the invention relates to systems and apparatuses which may be connected to a vehicle’s existing circuitry to enable the vehicle to lock automatically after certain conditions are met or allow the vehicle locks to be operated after receiving wireless commands from a separate device, such as a smart phone.

[0002] It is further contemplated that the system may provide an efficient means of ensuring that a vehicle is properly locked when not in use or may allow a user of a device to operate the vehicle locks without the vehicle key.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Most vehicles still require the doors to be locked manually after the user finishes using the vehicle. Unfortunately, vehicle owners often forget to lock their vehicles, leaving them vulnerable to having their contents, or the vehicles themselves, stolen. [0004] Various solutions have been developed to address this problem. For example, keyless remote controllers have been developed to allow a user to lock and unlock their vehicle remotely by way of a wirelessly connected key fob.

[0005] More recently, some vehicles are adapted to wirelessly connect a vehicle to a user’s mobile device, thereby permitting the user to control various of aspects of the vehicle through the user interface of the mobile device. [0006] However, these solutions are often expensive and cannot readily be incorporated into a vehicle as an aftermarket upgrade. In fact, some older models of vehicles may not have the required equipment or specifications to permit an upgrade of this nature. Moreover, these solutions do not provide a degree of autonomous oversight over the vehicle. [0007] What is needed is a cost-effective system which may be connected to a vehicle’s existing circuitry that may lock the vehicle automatically when the user has left the vehicle and may allow the user to regain access to the vehicle if it is locked unintentionally.

SUMMARY

[0008] The present method and system for locking a vehicle may provide a low cost means to enable vehicles without existing automatic locking features to lock automatically under certain conditions, such as after a set period of time has elapsed.

[0009] In at least one embodiment, the present invention provides a system for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the system having an apparatus comprising at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with a microcontroller, at least a first electromechanical relay, the at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle, at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle, memory, a communication module, the communication module adapted to provide wireless electronic communication with an external mobile device, and a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board, an external application operating on the external mobile device, the external application configured to wirelessly communicate with the at least one circuit board through the communication module to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for activating the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle.

[0010] In at least one embodiment, the present invention provides a method for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the method comprising the steps of pairing an external mobile device with an apparatus, the apparatus comprising at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with a microcontroller, at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle, at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle, memory, a communication module adapted to provide wireless electronic communication with an external mobile device, and a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board, the external mobile device running an external application configured to wirelessly communicate with the at least one circuit board through the communication module to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for activating the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle; and activating the at least a first electromechanical relay to activate electromechanical lock system of the vehicle.

[0011] In at least one embodiment, the present invention provides an apparatus for monitoring and automatically activating an electromechanical lock system of a vehicle, the apparatus having at least one circuit board having means for connecting to an existing circuit system of the vehicle, the at least one circuit board in electrical communication with a microcontroller, at least a first electromechanical relay, the at least a first electromechanical relay adapted to activate the electromechanical lock system of the vehicle through the existing circuit system of the vehicle, at least one voltage sensitive input adapted for detecting voltage from the existing circuit system of the vehicle, memory, and a power supply unit adapted for providing electrical power to the at least one circuit board.

[0012] It is further contemplated that the present method and system for locking a vehicle may also provide a means for the vehicle locks to be operated by receiving instructions from a separate device, such as Bluetooth® signals sent from a smart phone.

[0013] It is contemplated that the present system may be installed by plugging it into the vehicle’s existing circuitry such that it can detect when the vehicle has been turned off and that it is capable of operating the vehicle’s locks. [0014] In at least one embodiment, it is contemplated the system may detect that the vehicle has been turned off by plugging into the vehicle’s power and sensing the presence of power from the power connection when the vehicle is on and the absence of power when the vehicle is off. It is contemplated that the system may plug into the vehicle’s power through, for example, the dome light, auxiliary 12 V output, cigarette lighter, a similar power connection, or some combination of connection points.

[0015] In at least one embodiment the system may operate the vehicle’s locks by connecting to the control wiring of the vehicle’s existing the electromechanical lock system and sending a signal to the vehicle’s lock actuators. It is contemplated that the system may signal to the vehicle’s control wiring going to the actuators to operate the actuators and lock or unlock the vehicle. [0016] It is contemplated that in at least one embodiment the present method and system for locking a vehicle may comprise: at least one circuit board which is capable of connecting to a vehicle's existing circuitry; firmware installed on the at least one circuit board; and an external application operating on a separate device which may communicate with the at least one circuit board wirelessly to issue commands to the at least one circuit board for controlling vehicle locking features. [0017] It is further contemplated that in at least one embodiment the at least one circuit board may comprise a microcontroller, two electromechanical relays, two voltage sensitive inputs, memory, a communication module, and a power supply unit. In some embodiments, the two electromechanical relays may have outputs with jumper configurations that allow them to be configured to generate either positive or negative polarity pulses. [0018] It is contemplated that the communication module may be configured to wirelessly receive commands from the external application. As will be readily appreciated by the skilled person, the communication module may be configured to receive commands via any suitable wireless standard, such as Bluetooth®, Zigbee®, NFC, WLAN, or the like. The memory may be flash memory, such as EEPROM memory. The two voltage sensitive inputs may be two opto-isolated 12V sensing inputs.

[0019] It is contemplated that some embodiments will further include a physical pairing button adapted to assist with pairing a mobile device to the communication module. As will be readily appreciated by the skilled person, it is contemplated that in at least one embodiment the communication module of the present invention can only be paired with a user’s mobile phone by way of the physical pairing button. In this way, it is contemplated that only a user having direct, physical access can pair a mobile phone to the communication module of the present invention. It is contemplated that the pairing button can be depressed, the devices paired via the communication module, and in some embodiments, it is contemplated that the mobile device information can be stored by the present invention in order to maintain the mobile phone as an approved paired device. As a result, rogue individuals cannot inadvertently or intentionally remotely pair a mobile device to the communication module of the present invention without having physical access to the pairing button.

[0020] In some embodiments, the first electromechanical relay may act as a timed relay. The timed relay may be configured to activate a period of time after power received from a vehicle is absent or after receiving a command from the external application. This timed relay may be configured to lock the vehicle after a period time. [0021] In some embodiments, a second electromechanical relay may act as a communication relay.

This communication relay may be configured to activate after receiving a command from the external application. The communication relay may be configured to unlock the vehicle after a command has been received from an external application.

[0022] In some embodiments, the memory may be configured to store user credentials associated with approved devices running the external application.

[0023] In some embodiments, the at least one circuit board may be configured to disable normal locking functions for a period of time, such as to allow the vehicle to remain unlocked for 1 hour or to wait until a command is received from the external application to resume normal functions.

[0024] In some embodiments, the at least one circuit board may be constructed with power connectors and debug connectors. [0025] In some embodiments, the at least one circuit board may be situated in an enclosure, such as a plastic case. The enclosure may provide an opening for power to be input from the vehicle to the circuit board, and an opening for jumper settings to be input to the electromechanical relays.

[0026] In at least one embodiment, it is contemplated that the firmware may comprise a main loop, subroutines, and interrupts. The main loop may be responsible for initializing the hardware, resetting as watchdog timer (WDT) counter, and calling timer handles. The subroutines may detect the presence of a power input, switch each output relay on and off, and handle communication operation upon detecting a button input. The interrupts may include: external application interrupts (which detect changes in a connection to an external application), change interrupts (which detect input changes), and event interrupts (which detect commands issued from the external application). To reduce power consumption, the communication module may be configured to be in a deep sleep until an interrupt is detected.

[0027] In at least one embodiment, the firmware may be configured to operate according to the following sequence: · Start sequence when power is applied.

• Poll for a requested external application connection at regular intervals.

• If memory includes known external application devices, attempt to connect to known devices.

• If memory does not contain known external application devices, wait for external application pairing instructions.

• Once external application is detected, allow external application to issue instruction to the at least one circuit board to change the vehicle locking delay time, unlock the vehicle, or disable normal locking functions for a period of time or until re-enable instruction is received. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] The advantages and features of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following more detailed description and claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like elements are identified with like symbols: [0029] Figure 1 is a schematic diagram of a power connector which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiments of the present invention;

[0030] Figure 2 is a schematic diagram of a power regulator which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiments of the present invention;

[0031] Figure 3 is a schematic diagram of two voltage sensing inputs which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiments of the present invention;

[0032] Figure 4 is a schematic diagram of a Bluetooth® module which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiments of the present invention;

[0033] Figure 5 is a schematic diagram of two electromechanical relays which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiments of the present invention;

[0034] Figure 6 is a schematic diagram of a debug connector which may form part of a circuit board used in the system in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention; and

[0035] Figure 7 is an illustration of the rear surface of an enclosure for a circuit board used in a system in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention showing inputs for an 8-pin power connector, a jumper output for a first relay and a jumper output for a second relay. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

[0036] In at least one embodiment, the method and system for locking a vehicle the system may comprise a circuit board and an external application hosted on a separate device which may communicate wirelessly with the circuit board. [0037] It is contemplated that the circuit board may be comprised of a single 2-layer printed circuit board with standard loz copper, as will be readily understood by the skilled person. In at least one embodiment, the dimensions of the circuit board may be 2.8 inches x 1.7 inches. It is contemplated that all surface mount and through hole components may be placed on one side of the circuit board. It is further contemplated that the circuit board may further house power connectors, debug connectors, electromechanical relays, voltage sensing inputs and protection circuits, a communication module, memory, and a power supply unit.

[0038] Although the present embodiment describes the circuit board as a single circuit board, those skilled in the art will understand that the circuit board components described herein could be split among multiple circuit boards without departing from the scope of the present invention. [0039] In at least one embodiment, the circuit board may be housed in an enclosure. It is contemplated that the enclosure may be plastic or any other material which may be suitable to protect the circuit board from external elements and the dimensions of the enclosure may be 3.0 inches x 2.0 inches x 1.5 inches, however other suitable materials and sizes are also contemplated. The enclosure may provide an opening for input power, and openings for electromechanical relay jumper pins. For example, in at least one embodiment a Polycase™ TS-2315F model case may be used as the enclosure. [0040] It is contemplated that the power connector, which may form part of the circuit board, may in some embodiments comprise a double row 8-pin through hole connector. For example, in at least one embodiment a Molex™ 035318-0820 model power connector may be used as will be readily appreciated by the skilled person. Figure 1 depicts one example circuit diagram of a suitable power connector. Figure 7 depicts one example of a suitable power connector, first jumper output and second jumper output installed in an opening in the rear panel of an enclosure. As will be appreciated by the skilled person, these arrangements are merely exemplary and a wide variety of arrangements are contemplated without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0041] In at least one embodiment, the pin assignment of the power connector may be as follows, as can be seen in Figure 1:

[0042] It is contemplated that the debug connector which may form part of the circuit board may comprise a single row 10-pin surface mount header. For example, in at least one embodiment an Amphenol™ 10075024-G01-05ULF model debug connector may be used. Figure 6 depicts one example circuit diagram for a suitable debug connector. Those skilled in the art will understand that other connectors which provide a suitable number of pins may be used. The debug connector may be completely contained within the enclosure and only accessible by opening the enclosure. [0043] In at least one embodiment, the pin assignment of the debug connector may be as follows, as can be seen in Figure 6:

[0044] It is contemplated that in some embodiments the circuit board may control two electromechanical relays. Control of the electromechanical relays may be based on the presence of a power input, such as a 12V power input, and commands issued from an external application on a separate device and received by the circuit board via wireless communication.

[0045] In at least one embodiment, the two electromechanical relays may be double-pole-double- throw (DPDT) relays. In these embodiments, it is contemplated that the relays may be used to drive an inductive load. For example, in at least one embodiment Kemet™ EE2-12NU DPDT relays may be used. Figure 5 depicts one example circuit diagram of two suitable electromechanical relays. Those skilled in the art will understand that other suitable relays may be used without departing from the scope of the invention.

[0046] In some embodiments, the relays may be configurable by jumper configurations via their outputs to generate either negative or positive polarity pulses. In at least one embodiment, the relays may be configured such that one polarity locks the vehicle and the other polarity unlocks the vehicle. Each relay may be set to a different polarity so that one relay is dedicated to locking the vehicle and the other is dedicated to unlocking the vehicle.

[0047] In at least one embodiment, the relays may be configured such that one relay operates on a timer to lock the vehicle after a period of time has elapsed and the other relay operates based on commands from the external application to unlock the vehicle. As will be understood by the skilled person, other relay configurations may be used without departing from the scope of the invention.

[0048] It is contemplated that each relay may be configured with the use of jumper contacts to operate the relays as high side (i.e.: switch 12V power rail) or low side (i.e.: switch common rail) switches. Figure 7 depicts example jumper contacts for electromechanical relays. The jumper configurations may be dependent on the flow of current through the inductive load. Relay coils may operate as 12VDC and have a pick-up voltage of maximum 9VDC and a drop-out voltage of 1.2VDC. The relay coils may have a nominal operating current of 1 l.7mA. Each relay contact may operate up to 2A current at a maximum voltage of 250AC, 220VDC, although other arrangements are also contemplated as will be appreciated by the skilled person. [0049] It is contemplated that there may be two voltage sensitive inputs on the board. In some embodiments, the voltage sensitive inputs may be isolated from the microcontroller inputs with a dual opto-coupler. The voltage sensing inputs may be 12V sensing inputs. For example, in at least one embodiment a Lite-On Inc.™ LTV826S opto-isolator may be used as will be readily understood by the skilled person. Figure 3 depicts an example circuit diagram of two voltage sensing inputs. In at least one embodiment, the inputs may be protected from over voltage and reverse polarity voltage with transient- voltage- suppression (TVS) diodes and current limiting resistors. [0050] In at least one embodiment, it is contemplated that the communication module may be a low energy Bluetooth® module. For example, in at least one embodiment a Silicon Fabs™ BGM111A256V2R may be used as will be readily understood by the skilled person. Figure 4 depicts an example circuit diagram for a Bluetooth® communication module. Those skilled in the art will understand that although Bluetooth® is used as an example, other methods of wireless communication, such as cellular, WFAN, Zigbee, NFC, or the like could be used without departing from the scope of the invention. Those skilled in the art will further understand that modules which provide suitable wireless communication capabilities other than the example above may be used.

[0051] In at least one embodiment, it is contemplated that the communication module may be powered by a 3.3V power supply. In embodiments including a Bluetooth® communication module, it is contemplated that the communication module may have, for example, the following features: Bluetooth® Low Energy, Integrated antennae, 2.4GHz radio operation, +8dBM TX power, RX sensitivity down to -92dBm, Bluetooth® 4.2 compliant, up to 200 meters in line of sight range, up to 40Mhz operation, 256kB of Flash memory, 32kB RAM, 25 GPIO pins. [0052] In at least one embodiment, the pin-out of the Bluetooth® module and its general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins may be as follows, as can be seen in Figure 4:

[0053] In at least one embodiment, it is contemplated that the memory may be flash memory, such as EEPROM memory which may further be internal microcontroller unit EEPROM. It is contemplated that the flash memory may be used to store user credentials or device information relating to successfully paired devices running the external application, which may allow the user to connect directly to the system without using a pairing button to establish a connection between the system and a separate device.

[0054] In some embodiments, a low power linear voltage regulator may be used to provide power for the communication module. In at least one embodiment, for example, a Diodes Incorporated™ AZ1117AH-3.3TRG1 model low power linear voltage regulator may be used. Figure 2 depicts an example low power linear voltage regulator. Those skilled in the art will understand that other voltage regulators may be used. It is further contemplated that the input of the regulator may be protected with a fuse, reverse polarity diode, over voltage TVS diode and EMI filter.

[0055] In some embodiments, it is further contemplated that it may also be possible to disable certain functionality of the system for a period of time, such as to cease locking behaviors for 60 minutes, or until a command is received from the external application.

[0056] In at least one embodiment, software for the communication module may be written in BGScript programming language. The project may be compiled using BGTool provided through Simplicity Studio v4 and programmed using Commander provided through Simplicity Studio v4. Those skilled in the art will understand that other suitable programming languages and compilers may be used.

[0057] In some embodiments, the firmware may consist of a main loop, subroutines, and interrupts. In some embodiments, the main loop may perform hardware initialization, reset a watchdog timer (WDT) counter, and make calls to timer handles. It is contemplated that the subroutines may detect the presence of power, such as 12VDC, from the inputs, switch each output relay on and off, and communication pairing operation, upon detecting a button hold.

[0058] It is contemplated that in some embodiments the firmware may employ the following interrupt routines: timer interrupts (communication timer that occurs every few seconds, for example every 5 seconds, to detect changes in the communication connection), interrupt-on- change (input detection occurs when there is a change in the input status which runs on both rising and falling edge of the input - button detection may occur when there is a change from high to low which runs on the rising edge of the button press), and event interrupts (communication commands from the external application). To reduce power consumption, it is contemplated that the communication module may be configured to be in deep sleep until an interrupt is detected.

[0059] In at least one embodiment, the firmware may operate according to the following sequence:

I) The sequence starts when power is detected.

2) Wait for a button press. Start a timer that polls every few seconds (such as every 10 seconds) to check for a requested wireless device connection.

3) If previous device connections exist, attempt to connect to the device.

4) If no previous device connections exist, wait for a button press.

5) If a button press is detected, start a connection timer, such as a 3-second timer.

6) If the connection timer reaches its end, allow connection for available devices using the appropriate communication standard, such as nearby Bluetooth® devices.

7) If a device connection is requested, create a connection if the device is in“pairing mode” or has previously paired. At this point a device connection is made successfully.

8) If input power at inputs 1 or 2 is present, do nothing.

9) If a locking delay time change is input from the wireless device, set new locking delay time (for example, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes).

10) If input power at inputs 1 and 2 is not present, start a locking timer (for example, default is 3 minutes).

I I) If a locking timer reaches the locking delay time (for example, the default of 3 minutes), switch a first relay on. The relay will start a signal to the vehicle lock actuator to lock the vehicle.

12) Once a turn-off timer reaches a short amount of time, for example 1 second, switch the first relay off. This will stop the locking signal to the vehicle lock actuators since after 1 second the vehicle will have finished locking.

13) If the wireless device command to unlock the vehicle is received, switch a second relay on. This will start a signal to the vehicle lock actuators to unlock the vehicle. 14) Once a turn-off timer reaches a short amount of time, for example 1 second, switch the second relay off. This will stop the stop the unlocking signal to the vehicle lock actuators since after 1 second the vehicle will have finished unlocking.

15) If the wireless device command“Bypass” is received, disable the first relay for a time specified (for example, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes) after which turn first relay on. This will start the locking signal to the vehicle lock actuators.

16) Once a turn-off timer reaches a short amount of time, for example 1 second, switch the first relay off. This will stop the locking signal to the vehicle lock actuators since after 1 second the vehicle will have finished locking.

[0060] In at least one embodiment, an example Bluetooth® microcontroller program may consist of the following data structures: bool bl2V_sensel (Boolean input sense flag 1 - true if active, false if inactive), bool bl2V_sense2 (Boolean input sense flag 2 - true if active, false is inactive), bool bButton_Debounce (Boolean pairing button input - true is pressed, false if not pressed).

[0061] It is contemplated that the same example Bluetooth® microcontroller program may include the following data commands to control the relay coil: procedure Timed_Relay_Output() (a routine that opens and closes the timed relay to lock the vehicle door), procedure Bluetooth_Relay_Output() (a routine that opens and closes the Bluetooth® relay to unlock the vehicle door).

[0062] It is further contemplated that the same example Bluetooth® microcontroller program may include the following data structures to handle pairing button commands: procedure Debounce() (a routine that checks if pairing button is indeed pressed), procedure Is_Button_Held() (a routine that checks if button is being pressed), procedure Button_Hold_Decision() (a routine that enables Bluetooth® discovery and undirected connections). [0063] It is contemplated that the microcontroller program may be constructed with two primary phases: (1) the initialization phase, and (2) the execution phase. The initialization phase may setup peripherals and data structures for the program. More specifically, it is contemplated that the initialization phase may configure the following: clock frequency, GPIO configuration settings, timer handles, communication settings.

[0064] It is contemplated that the execution phase may involve the program entering its main loop and may execute the following four tasks indefinitely: (1) re-initializing settings, (2) getting inputs, (3) processing input data, (4) writing outputs, (5) strobe watchdog timer. Each of these four tasks are explained in more detail below. [0065] It is further contemplated that reinitializing settings may occur at the start of the main loop in case the internal settings of the program are misconfigured.

[0066] After reinitializing settings, it is contemplated that the program may proceed to the getting inputs task which may retrieve analog data and store the readings into the appropriate data structures (for example, bl2V_sensel and bl2V_sense2, given as examples above). During this task, it is contemplated that the program may retrieve the status of the inputs from the external application, such as whether a password was entered, locking vehicle time control override, and unlock vehicle control.

[0067] After retrieving and storing the input data, it is further contemplated that the program may process the input data. During this task, a timer may begin when both analog inputs are not detected for the vehicle locking functionality. In at least one embodiment, a locking delay timer may be preset but variable, for example preset to a value of 3 minutes but variable up to 60 minutes, depending on the settings from the external application set by the user. When the external application sends an unlock command to the controller, it is contemplated that the program may store the state of the unlock command and may activate an output.

[0068] After processing all input data from the controller and the external application, it is further contemplated that the output data structures may be updated. Once the timer expires, the timed controlled relay output may be set to close its contacts for 1 second and then open the contacts after the 1 second timer expires, which may simulate the vehicle locking. If the unlock command from the external application is set, the wireless controlled relay output may be set to close its contacts for 1 second and then may open its contacts after the 1 second timer expires.

[0069] After all the output states are updated, it is contemplated that the internal watchdog timer may be strobed to prevent the program from resetting. If any part or a combination of the routines in the main program take longer than 1 second, it is further contemplated that the program may reset and begin from the initialization phase.

[0070] In at least one embodiment, the flow of the example Bluetooth® microcontroller board may operate as follows:

• Initialize I/O peripherals

• Initialize application data structures

o Initialize timer handle

Bluetooth® timer handle -starts continuously polling every 10 seconds o Set relay 1 and relay 2 outputs to open

o If l2V_inputl is low

bl2V_sensel = FALSE

o Else bl2V sense l=TRUE

o If l2V_inputl is low

b 12V_sense2=FALSE

o Else

b 12 V_sense2=TRUE

o If Button is pressed

bButton_Debounce=TRUE

o Else

bButton_Debounce=FALSE

• Initialize Bluetooth® advertising

o If bButton_Debounce=TRUE

Enable Bluetooth® undirected advertising o Else

Keep Bluetooth® disabled unadvertised

• Listen to event interrupts

o Bluetooth® connection opened

o Bluetooth® connection disconnected

Turns off Bluetooth® advertising

o Bluetooth® commands

“Unlock” - if received, turn on relay 2 for 1 second

“Bypass” - if received

• Set delay timer to new bypass time

• Start timer with new bypass time

• If timer=bypass time

o Check input status o If input not detected

Set relay 1 output for 1 second

o Else

Reset relay 1 output

o Reset bypass time to default 3 minutes

o Soft timer handle

Bluetooth® timer handle

• Checks connection status

• Attempts reconnect if connection lost

Micro timer handle

• When triggered, sets timed relay output

Relay timer handle

• When triggered, resets timed and Bluetooth® relay outputs

o GPIO status

If either input sense pins detected

• Reset delay timer

If no input sense detected

• Start delay timer

If button pressed

• Start button hold timer

• Check if debounced

Strobe the watchdog timer

[0071] With reference to Figure 1, a schematic diagram of a suitable power connector for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, an 8-pin through hole connector 10 is provided where pin 1 and pin 3 are both connected to ground 20.

[0072] A fuse 12 is connected to a positive terminal connected to pin 5 which is subsequently connected to the positive voltage of power source 22. [0073] Subsequently, a first diode 30 is connected directly with filter 14 and to a second diode 32 and third diode 34 that are each subsequently connected to ground 20.

[0074] Turning to Figure 2, a schematic diagram of a suitable power regulator for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, first integrated circuit 40 is connected to filter 14 through pins 1 and 2. First integrated circuit 40 is also connected to ground 20 through pins 1 and 2 by way of a capacitor 16.

[0075] First integrated circuit 40 is also connected to ground 20 through pin 7. First integrated circuit 40 is also connected to ground 20 through pin 8 by way of a resistor 18 and capacitor 16. Pin 8 is further connected to pin 4 by way of inductor 19. First integrated circuit 40 is also connected to ground 20 through pin 3 by way of capacitor 16. [0076] Second integrated circuit 42 is connected to power source 50 directly through pin 4 and through pin 1 by way of resistor 18. Second integrated circuit 42 is directly connected to ground 20 through pin 3 and pin 2. Second integrated circuit 42 is also connected to ground 20 through pin 1 by way of capacitor 16. Polarized capacitor 17 is also provided between pin 3 and 4.

[0077] Turning to Figure 3, a schematic diagram of two suitable voltage sensing inputs for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, first voltage sensing input 60 is comprised of first sensor input 61 connected to power source 50 through resistor 18. Sensor input 61 is further connected to ground 20 through optoisolator 63. Power input 65 is connected to ground 20 through resistor 18 and through diode 30 and diode 31, wherein these diodes are oriented in parallel between power input 65 and ground

20. [0078] Similarly, second voltage sensing input 62 is comprised of second sensor input 63 connected to power source 50 through resistor 18. Sensor input 61 is further connected to ground 20 through optoisolator 63. Power input 65 is connected to ground 20 through resistor 18 and through diode 30 and diode 31, wherein these diodes are oriented in parallel between power input 65 and ground 20. [0079] Turning to Figure 4, a schematic diagram of a suitable communications module for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, communication module 70 is connected to power source 50 through pin 2 by way of resistors 118. Communication module 70 is further connected to ground 120 through pin 2 by way of diodes 130 and, in some instances, can include switch 72. Communication module 70 is further connected to ground 120 directly through pin 1 and 12.

[0080] Communication module 70 is further connected to power source 50 through pin 29 by way of inductor 119. Communication module 70 is further connected to ground 120 through pin 29 by way of diodes capacitors 116. Communication module 70 is further connected to ground 120 through pin 31 and 20. [0081] Turning to Figure 5, a schematic diagram of two suitable electromechanical relays for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, first mechanical relay 80 is connected to relay output 85 which is in turn connected to jumper input 86 through resistor 18 and capacitor 16. Jumper input 86 is further connected to positive voltage of power source 22 and ground 20.

[0082] First mechanical relay 80 is further connected to filter 14 and switch 87. Diode 30 is connected between filter 14 and switch 87. First mechanical relay 80 is connected to ground 20 through switch 87 and resistor 18. First mechanical relay 80 is further connected to relay control signal 83 through switch 87 and resistor 18.

[0083] Similarly, second mechanical relay 82 is connected to relay output 85 which is in turn connected to jumper input 86 through resistor 18 and capacitor 16. Jumper input 86 is further connected to positive voltage of power source 22 and ground 20. [0084] Second mechanical relay 82 is further connected to filter 14 and switch 87. Diode 30 is connected between filter 14 and switch 87. First mechanical relay 82 is connected to ground 20 through switch 87 and resistor 18. Second mechanical relay 82 is further connected to relay control signal 83 through switch 87 and resistor 18.

[0085] Turning to Figure 6, a schematic diagram of a suitable debug connector for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, debug connector 90 is connected to power source 50 through pin 1. Moreover, debug connector 90 is connected to ground 20 through pin 2.

[0086] Finally turning to Figure 7, an illustration of suitable inputs for an 8-pin power connector, a suitable jumper output for a first relay, and a suitable jumper output for a second relay for use in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, 8-pin power connector 100 has eight separate plugs 102 that are securely mounted to rear panel 110 of the enclosure. Moreover, first relay jumper output 104 includes three separate plugs and similarly second relay jumper output 106 includes three separate plugs.

[0087] In this way, the present invention can be directly connected to the internal circuitry of a vehicle in a manner that provides both wired and wireless connectivity in order to detect when the vehicle has been turned off and provide the remote capability of operating the vehicle’s locks in an autonomous and both self-directed manner.

[0088] It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the above detailed description merely describes certain embodiments and that many of the above components may be modified or replaced with equivalent components known to a person skilled in the art may without departing from the scope of the invention.