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Title:
MODULAR SMART PADLOCK SYSTEM FOR PROTECTION OF DISTRIBUTED ASSETS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/165353
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure generally relates to providing a modular padlock system. Using novel designs and network technology, the present systems, methods, and apparatuses can provide the security of a padlock system, without the use of a physical key. For example, in certain embodiments, the present systems, methods, and apparatuses can facilitate the locking and unlocking of a physical padlock by using a digital construct and an encryption system.

Inventors:
RUFFKESS, Brad A. (882 Barnett Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30306, US)
RUFFKESS, Ross (23233 Cypress Trail Dr, Lutz, Florida, 33549, US)
GLASS, Mike (540 Bishop Way NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30312, US)
Application Number:
US2019/019374
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 25, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BOXLOCK, INC. (882 Barnett Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30306, US)
International Classes:
E05B47/00; E05B67/06; E05B67/10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STRASBURGER, Jr., R., Lee (3343 Peachtree Road, N.E.1600 Atlanta Financial Cente, Atlanta Georgia, 30326, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A modular padlock, comprising:

a lock housing unit comprising:

a shackle;

a motor for securing the shackle; and

one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and

a control unit comprising:

one or more control unit connecting pins that are compatible with the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and

an authenticator for determining whether to actuate the motor.

2. The modular padlock of claim 1, wherein the lock housing unit is separate from the control unit.

3. The modular padlock of claim 2, wherein the lock housing unit further comprises a shackle status sensor to determine a position of the shackle and a lock housing unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins.

4. The modular padlock of claim 3, wherein the control unit further comprises a battery and a control unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more control unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more control unit connecting pins.

5. The modular padlock of claim 4, wherein the battery powers both the lock housing unit and the control unit.

6. The modular padlock of claim 4, wherein the authenticator comprises a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, or microphone.

7. The modular padlock of claim 6, wherein at least one of the lock housing unit and the control unit comprises a location determining device.

8. The modular padlock of claim 7, wherein determining whether to actuate the motor comprises receiving authorized data from the barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, or microphone when the location determining device is located in a particular authorized location.

9. The modular padlock of claim 4, wherein the control unit encryption chip or lock housing unit encryption chip comprises a unique identifier.

10. The modular padlock of claim 9, wherein determining whether to actuate the motor comprises receiving authorized data from the authenticator, wherein the authorized data is associated with the unique identifier.

11. A method for locking a modular padlock, comprising the steps of:

attaching a control unit to a lock housing unit, wherein the lock housing unit comprises: a shackle;

a motor for securing the shackle; and

one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and

the control unit comprises:

one or more control unit connecting pins that are compatible with the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and

an authenticator; and

providing one or more identification data items to the authenticator, wherein the authenticator determines whether to actuate the motor based on the one or more identification data items.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein attaching the control unit to the lock housing unit comprises mating the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins with the one or more control unit connecting pins.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the lock housing unit further comprises a shackle status sensor to determine a position of the shackle and a lock housing unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the control unit further comprises a battery and a control unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more control unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more control unit connecting pins.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the battery powers both the lock housing unit and the control unit.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the authenticator comprises a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, or microphone; wherein the one or more identification data items comprise a barcode, fingerprint, or NFC-enabled tag; and wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only with the appropriate barcode, fingerprint, or NFC-enabled tag is provided to the authenticator.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein at least one of the lock housing unit and the control unit comprises a location determining device.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only when the location determining device is located in a particular authorized location.

19. The method of claim 14, wherein the control unit encryption chip or lock housing unit encryption chip comprises a unique identifier.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only after determining that the one or more identification data items are associated with the unique identifier.

Description:
MODULAR SMART PADLOCK SYSTEM FOR PROTECTION OF

DISTRIBUTED ASSETS

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to, the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119 of, and incorporates by reference herein in its entirety U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/634,283, filed February 23, 2018, and entitled“Modular Smart Padlock System for Protection of Distributed Assets.”

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present systems, apparatuses, and methods relate generally to padlocks and, more specifically, to a modular padlock system.

BACKGROUND

Traditional padlocks require a key or combination for access. Key management of traditional padlocks is insecure, costly, and antiquated. For example, the city of Austin, TX, has over 20,000 fire utility boxes with one master key. A recent breach has caused the city to have to rekey these boxes at a cost of over $2,000,000. Key management and retrieval is a laborious and timely process.

In contrast, smart padlocks provide digital alternatives to keys but require batteries and generally lack connectivity. Thus, smart padlocks store their access information locally, which makes them only as secure as the update to the lock.

Similarly, connected padlocks require power and connectivity to provide added flexibility through real-time authentication. Therefore, there is a long-felt but unresolved need for a keyless/combination-less lock that is removably powered and connected to ensure security and ease of use.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Briefly described, and according to one embodiment, aspects of the present disclosure generally relate to systems, methods and apparatuses for a modular padlock system for protection and securing of utilities, fleet, storage, cargo, and other valuable items.

In various embodiments, the modular padlock system includes a lock housing unit and a control unit. Generally, the lock housing unit secures a desired item or location, and the control unit is attached to or placed near the lock housing unit to lock and unlock the lock housing unit. In one embodiment, the control unit may be used to unlock or lock multiple lock housing units secured to various items or in various locations.

In some embodiments, the lock housing unit includes a shackle, a motor, a shackle sensor, a blocker, a connector, and an encryption chip. Generally, the shackle secures the lock housing unit to a desired item or location. According to at least one embodiment, the shackle is shaped like an upside down letter“u”. In at least one embodiment, the shackle is rectangular in shape. Additionally, in particular

embodiments, the motor locks and unlocks the shackle by rotating a blocker (e.g., a physical piece that prevents the shackle from moving or being removed from the lock housing unit). In at least one embodiment, the shackle sensor detects whether the shackle is in a locked or unlocked position. In particular embodiments, the connector provides a mechanism for transferring power and data between the lock housing unit and the control unit. Additionally, in various embodiments, the encryption chip enables secure transfer of data between the lock housing unit and the control unit (in one embodiment, via the connector).

Furthermore, in various embodiments, the control unit includes an input method, an input method actuator, a battery, a USB port, a speaker, a LED, a global positioning system (“GPS”), a wireless communication technology, a connector, and an encryption chip. Generally, the input method allows users to provide authentication information to the system. In at least one embodiment, the input method is a barcode scanner. In one or more embodiments, the input method may be manufactured to support any method of authentication (e.g., Near Field Communication (NFC) reader, fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, microphone, etc.). In one embodiment, the input method actuator includes a button to turn the input method on or off. In at least one embodiment, the button is located on the lock housing unit. In particular embodiments, the battery provides a power source for the control unit. In at least one embodiment, the battery provides a power source for both the control unit and the lock housing unit. In some embodiments, the universal serial bus (USB) port provides a mechanism for charging the battery and for sending instructions or software updates to the control unit. In one embodiment, the speaker gives audible feedback to users. In some embodiments, the GPS provides real- time tracking of the control unit’s location. Additionally, in various embodiments, the wireless communication technology provides mobile and long distance connectivity (e.g., Bluetooth, LoRa, LTE-M, 3G, 4G, 5G, etc.). In at least one embodiment, the GPS, Bluetooth, long distance connectivity, USB port, speaker, LED, and the connector are all connected to a circuit board. Furthermore, in various embodiments, the connector and encryption chip permit the secure transfer of power and data between the control unit and the lock housing unit.

Additionally, in various embodiments, the modular padlock system further includes a lock system. In particular embodiments, the lock system comprises an online central management system for the modular padlock system. In some embodiments, the lock system provides a mechanism for maintaining an inventory of lock housing units and control units. In at least one embodiment, the lock system provides a mechanism for managing users and access permissions to lock housing units.

In one embodiment, a modular padlock, comprising: a lock housing unit comprising: a shackle; a motor for securing the shackle; and one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and a control unit comprising: one or more control unit connecting pins that are compatible with the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and an authenticator for determining whether to actuate the motor.

In one embodiment, a method for locking a modular padlock, comprising the steps of: attaching a control unit to a lock housing unit, wherein the lock housing unit comprises: a shackle; a motor for securing the shackle; and one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and the control unit comprises: one or more control unit connecting pins that are compatible with the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins; and an authenticator; and providing one or more identification data items to the authenticator, wherein the authenticator determines whether to actuate the motor based on the one or more identification data items. According to one aspect of the present disclosure, the modular padlock, wherein the lock housing unit is separate from the control unit. Furthermore, the modular padlock, wherein the lock housing unit further comprises a shackle status sensor to determine a position of the shackle and a lock housing unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins. Moreover, the modular padlock, wherein the control unit further comprises a battery and a control unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more control unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more control unit connecting pins. Further, the modular padlock, wherein the battery powers both the lock housing unit and the control unit. Additionally, the modular padlock, wherein the authenticator comprises a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner,

NFC reader, camera, or microphone.

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, the modular padlock, wherein at least one of the lock housing unit and the control unit comprises a location determining device. Also, the modular padlock, wherein determining whether to actuate the motor comprises receiving authorized data from the barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, or microphone when the location determining device is located in a particular authorized location. Furthermore, the modular padlock, wherein the control unit encryption chip or lock housing unit encryption chip comprises a unique identifier. Moreover, the modular padlock, wherein determining whether to actuate the motor comprises receiving authorized data from the authenticator, wherein the authorized data is associated with the unique identifier.

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, the method, wherein attaching the control unit to the lock housing unit comprises mating the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins with the one or more control unit connecting pins. Further, the method, wherein the lock housing unit further comprises a shackle status sensor to determine a position of the shackle and a lock housing unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more lock housing unit connecting pins. Additionally, the method, wherein the control unit further comprises a battery and a control unit encryption chip operably connected to the one or more control unit connecting pins to pass data through the one or more control unit connecting pins. Also, the method, wherein the battery powers both the lock housing unit and the control unit. Furthermore, the method, wherein the

authenticator comprises a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, or microphone; wherein the one or more identification data items comprise a barcode, fingerprint, or NFC-enabled tag; and wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only with the appropriate barcode, fingerprint, or NFC-enabled tag is provided to the authenticator.

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, the method, wherein at least one of the lock housing unit and the control unit comprises a location determining device. Moreover, the method, wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only when the location determining device is located in a particular authorized location.

Further, the method, wherein the control unit encryption chip or lock housing unit encryption chip comprises a unique identifier. Additionally, the method, wherein the authenticator determines to actuate the motor only after determining that the one or more identification data items are associated with the unique identifier.

These and other aspects, features, and benefits of the claimed technology will become apparent from the following detailed written description of the preferred embodiments and aspects taken in conjunction with the following drawings, although variations and modifications thereto may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate one or more embodiments and/or aspects of the disclosure and, together with the written description, serve to explain the principles of the disclosure. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like elements of an embodiment, and wherein:

FIG. 1 (including FIGS. 1 A - 1D) illustrates a perspective view of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. FIG. 2 (including FIGS. 2 A - 2B) illustrates a top view of an exemplary control unit of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top view of an exemplary control unit of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 (including FIGS. 4 A - 4D) illustrates a perspective view of an exemplary control unit of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 5 illustrates a component diagram of an exemplary lock housing unit, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 illustrates a component diagram of an exemplary lock control unit, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For the purpose of promoting an understanding of the principles of the present disclosure, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will, nevertheless, be understood that no limitation of the scope of the disclosure is thereby intended; any alterations and further modifications of the described or illustrated embodiments, and any further applications of the principles of the disclosure as illustrated therein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the disclosure relates. All limitations of scope should be determined in accordance with and as expressed in the claims.

Whether a term is capitalized is not considered definitive or limiting of the meaning of a term. As used in this document, a capitalized term shall have the same meaning as an uncapitalized term, unless the context of the usage specifically indicates that a more restrictive meaning for the capitalized term is intended. However, the capitalization or lack thereof within the remainder of this document is not intended to be necessarily limiting unless the context clearly indicates that such limitation is intended.

Overview Briefly described and according to one embodiment, aspects of the present disclosure generally relate to systems and methods for a modular padlock system. A need arises where an organization or an individual may have a significant number of locations that should to be secured and, in the case of the organization, a smaller distributed workforce that needs to access those secured locations. Rather than incur the risk, time, and expense of physical key management, the organization/individual seeks to digitalize its lock management system such that access to each of its secured locations may be controlled from a single central location via a network (e.g., a secure or unsecured connection, Bluetooth, wireless or wired local-area networks (LANs), cell network, the Internet, etc.). Accordingly, the organization/individual may increase the security at each of its secured locations, while it decreases its potential financial exposure in the event of a lost key, by implementation of a modular padlock system as described in the current disclosure.

The above and further features of the disclosed exemplary modular padlock system will be recognized from the following detailed descriptions and drawings of particular embodiments. In various embodiments, the modular padlock system includes a lock housing unit and a control unit. In some embodiments, the lock housing unit includes a shackle, a motor, a shackle sensor, a blocker, a connector, and an encryption chip. Generally, the shackle secures the lock housing unit to a desired item or location. According to at least one embodiment, the shackle is shaped like an upside down letter “u”. In at least one embodiment, the shackle is rectangular in shape. Additionally, in particular embodiments, the motor locks and unlocks the shackle by rotating a blocker (e.g., a physical piece that prevents the shackle from moving or being removed from the lock housing unit). In at least one embodiment, the shackle sensor detects whether the shackle is in a locked or unlocked position. In particular embodiments, the connector provides a mechanism for transferring power and data between the lock housing unit and the control unit. Additionally, in various embodiments, the encryption chip enables secure transfer of data between the lock housing unit and the control unit (in one embodiment, via the connector).

Furthermore, in various embodiments, the control unit includes an input method, an input method actuator, a battery, a USB port, a speaker, a LED, a global positioning system (“GPS”), a wireless communication technology, a connector, and an encryption chip. Generally, the input method allows users to provide authentication information to the system. In at least one embodiment, the input method is a barcode scanner. In one or more embodiments, the input method may be manufactured to support any method of authentication (e.g., Near Field Communication (NFC) reader, fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, microphone, etc.). In one embodiment, the input method actuator includes a button to turn the input method on or off. In at least one embodiment, the button is located on the lock housing unit. In particular embodiments, the battery provides a power source for the control unit. In at least one embodiment, the battery provides a power source for both the control unit and the lock housing unit. In some embodiments, the universal serial bus (USB) port provides a mechanism for charging the battery and for sending instructions or software updates to the control unit. In one embodiment, the speaker gives audible feedback to users. In some embodiments, the GPS provides real- time tracking of the control unit’s location. Additionally, in various embodiments, the wireless communication technology provides mobile and long distance connectivity (e.g., Bluetooth, LoRa, LTE-M, 3G, 4G, 5G, etc.). In at least one embodiment, the GPS, Bluetooth, long distance connectivity, USB port, speaker, LED, and the connector are all connected to a circuit board. Furthermore, in various embodiments, the connector and encryption chip permit the secure transfer of power and data between the control unit and the lock housing unit.

Additionally, in various embodiments, the modular padlock system further includes a lock system. In particular embodiments, the lock system comprises an online central management system for the modular padlock system. In some embodiments, the lock system provides a mechanism for maintaining an inventory of lock housing units and control units. In at least one embodiment, the lock system provides a mechanism for managing users and access permissions to lock housing units.

Exemplary Embodiments

Turning now to FIG. 1 (consisting of FIGS. 1 A-1D), a perspective view of an exemplary modular padlock 100 is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. According to various aspects of the present disclosure, the modular padlock 100 may include a lock housing unit 112 for securing (e.g., locking) a desired item or location by placing a shackle 104 through a hasp or other lockable component and a lock control unit 114 with a sensor area 106 for allowing one or more input methods for authentication purposes to lock or unlock the lock housing unit 112. Generally, the lock housing unit 112 secures a desired item or location, and the control unit 114 is attached to or placed near the lock housing unit 112 to lock and unlock the lock housing unit 112. In one embodiment, the control unit 114 may be used to unlock or lock multiple lock housing units 112 secured to various items or in various locations.

In particular embodiments, and as shown in FIG. 1, the lock housing unit includes an lock housing unit 112, whereby the lock housing unit 112 includes a shackle 104 at the top surface. In one embodiment, the lock housing unit 112 may be substantially triangular prism-shaped with rounded edges. In another embodiment, the lock housing unit 112 may be substantially cube-shaped or any other suitable shape. In some embodiments, the lock housing unit 112 may be manufactured from plastic, metal, steel, carbide or any other suitable material. In certain embodiments, the shackle 104 may be U-shaped (upside down), rectangular shaped, or any another suitable shape. In particular embodiments, the shackle 104 may be composed of steel, carbide, or other cut-resistant materials.

In various embodiments, the control unit 114 is complementary to the upper portion of the modular padlock 100 (e.g., lock housing unit 112, etc.), whereby the lock housing unit 112 and the control unit 114 connect at a connection point 116. In one or more embodiments, the control unit 114 includes a sensor area 106 for allowing one or more input methods for authentication purposes. In particular embodiments, the one or more input methods may include, but are not limited to: a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, microphone, or any other suitable input. In the

embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, the sensor area 106 includes a camera 108 to facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user. In at least one embodiment, the camera 108 may facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user by facilitating facial recognition or other visual verification mechanisms. In particular embodiments, the control unit 114 includes a bottom surface 110 on the underside of the control unit 114, such that the bottom surface 110 may also allow for one or more input methods for authentication purposes. In various embodiments, the one or more input methods may include, but are not limited to: a barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, microphone, or any other suitable input. In some embodiments, the control unit 114 may be manufactured from plastic, metal, steel, carbide or any other suitable material.

Now referring to FIG. 1B, a perspective view of an exemplary modular padlock 100 is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, the sensor area 106 includes a fingerprint scanner 118 or a fingerprint sensor 118 or a fingerprint reader 118. In one or more embodiments, the fingerprint scanner 118 may facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user by accepting a user’s fingerprint and comparing the user’s fingerprint to other known fingerprints. In at least one embodiment, and as will be described further herein, the fingerprint scanner 118 may facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user, by converting the user’s fingerprint into an access key, such that a user may be granted or denied permission to open the modular padlock 100 based on the value of the access key.

FIG. 1C shows a perspective view of an exemplary modular padlock 100, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1C, the bottom surface 110 includes a Near Field Communication (“NFC”) reader 122. In this embodiment, the sensor area 106 includes a button 120 that may be used to toggle the NFC reader 122 on or off. In various embodiments, the NFC reader 122 may facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user by accepting an NFC-enabled tag, and converting the NFC-enabled tag information into an access key as will be further described herein. In one or more embodiments, the access key may be used to grant or deny a user permission to open the modular padlock 100 as will also be further described herein.

FIG. 1D shows a perspective view of an exemplary modular padlock 100, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1D, the bottom surface 110 includes a barcode scanner 124. In this embodiment, the sensor area 106 includes a button 120 that may be used to toggle the barcode scanner 124 on or off. In various embodiments, the barcode scanner 124 may facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user by scanning a barcode, and converting the barcode information into an access key as will be further described herein. In one or more embodiments, the access key may be used to grant or deny a user permission to open the modular padlock 100 as will also be further described herein.

Turning now to FIG. 2 A, a top view of the lock housing unit 112 of an exemplary modular padlock is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In particular embodiments, a modular padlock with a substantially triangular shape may have rounded edges as shown in FIG. 2 A. In various embodiments, a shackle 104 extends from the top surface of the lock housing unit 112 of the modular padlock. In some embodiments, each leg of the U-shaped shackle 104 extends from the top surface of the upper portion of the modular padlock at or near two of the three vertices of the substantially triangular shaped modular padlock.

FIG. 2B shows a bottom view of the lock housing unit 112 of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In one or more embodiments, the underside of the lock housing unit 112 of the modular padlock includes connector pins 202 for connecting the lock housing unit 112 of the modular padlock to a lower portion of the modular padlock (e.g., control unit 114). In various embodiments, the connector pins 202 may be male, female, or androgynous. In one or more

embodiments, the connector pins 202 may be circular, rectangular, triangular, or any other suitable shape. In particular embodiments, the connector pins 202 may be manufactured from brass, copper, nickel, gold, or any other suitable material. In at least one embodiment, the connector pins 202 facilitate the transfer of data and/or power between the lock housing unit 112 and a control unit 114 of the modular padlock.

Now referring to FIG. 3, a top view of the control unit 114 of an exemplary modular padlock is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In various embodiments, the top surface of the control unit 114 of the modular padlock includes connector pins 302 for connecting the control unit 114 of the modular padlock to a lock housing unit of the modular padlock (e.g., lock housing unit 112). In certain embodiments, the connector pins 302 may be male, female, or androgynous. In some embodiments, the connector pins 302 may be circular, rectangular, triangular, or any other suitable shape. In particular embodiments, the connector pins 302 may be manufactured from brass, copper, nickel, gold, or any other suitable material. In one or more embodiments, the connector pins 302 facilitate the transfer of data and/or power between the control unit 114 and the lock housing unit 112 of the modular padlock 100.

Turning now to FIG. 4 A, a perspective view of the control unit 114 of an exemplary modular padlock is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In various embodiments, and as shown in FIG. 4A, a camera 108 is embedded in a sensor area 106 to facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user.

FIG. 4B shows a perspective view of the control unit 114 of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In particular embodiments, and as shown in FIG. 4B, a fingerprint scanner 118 is embedded in a sensor area 106 to facilitate authentication of a modular padlock 100 user.

Now referring to FIG. 4C, a perspective view of the control unit 114 of an exemplary modular padlock is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4C, the bottom surface 110 includes a Near Field Communication (“NFC”) reader 122 to facilitate authentication of a modular padlock user. In this embodiment, the sensor area 106 includes a button 120 that may be used to toggle the NFC reader 122 on or off.

FIG. 4D shows a perspective view of the control unit 114 of an exemplary modular padlock, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In this embodiment, the bottom surface 110 includes a barcode scanner 124 to facilitate authentication of a modular padlock user. In this embodiment, the sensor area 106 includes a button 120 that may be used to toggle the barcode scanner 124 on or off.

Turning now to FIG. 5, a component diagram of an exemplary lock housing unit 112 is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In particular embodiments, and as mentioned briefly above, the exemplary modular padlock 100 is configured to secure (e.g., lock) a desired item or location. In some embodiments, the lock housing unit 112 has its own unique identifier that is hardcoded into the unit 100 or 112.

According to various aspects of the present disclosure, and as discussed above, the modular padlock 100 includes a lock housing unit 112 for providing a secure exterior shell that protects the interior lock components. In particular embodiments, the lock housing unit includes a shackle 104 for securing (e.g., locking) a desired item or location by placing it through a hasp or other lockable component. In some embodiments, the lock housing unit 112 includes a motor 506 to lock and unlock the shackle 104, and a shackle sensor 504 to detect whether the shackle is locked or unlocked. Additionally, in particular embodiments, the lock housing unit 112 includes a connector 508 (e.g., connecting pins 202, etc.) and an encryption chip 510 to pass power, instructions, and the shackle status securely between the lock housing unit 112 and the control unit 114 (discussed below). Generally, the present disclosure places no limitations on the size or shape of the lock housing unit 112. Further, the present disclosure places no limitations on the motor 506, shackle sensor 504, blocker (now shown), connector 508, or encryption chip 510, so long as each can perform the functionality described herein.

Turning now to FIG. 6, a component diagram an exemplary lock control unit 114 is shown, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. In various

embodiments, a connector 600 (e.g., connecting pins 302, etc.) and an encryption chip 510 are included in the control unit 114 to facilitate the above described information sharing between a lock housing unit (e.g., lock housing unit 112) and the control unit 114. In some embodiments, an input method 608 (e.g., barcode scanner, fingerprint scanner, NFC reader, camera, microphone, etc.) is included in the control unit 114 to receive and pass a user’s authentication information (e.g., barcode unique to the user, fingerprint, image of user’s face, audio clip of user’s voice, etc.) to the central management system. In at least one embodiment, the input method 608 converts the authentication information into an access key (e.g., a hashed version or representation of the data in the authentication information) prior to passing it to the central management system. In various embodiments, the input method 608 is also referred to as the authenticator.

In some embodiments, and as shown in FIG. 6, a GPS 602 or other location determining device is included in the control unit 114 to provide location tracking of the control unit 114 so that the locations of the control unit 114 and the lock housing unit 112 may be known by the system (e.g., to help locate modular padlocks 100, to ensure lock housing units 112 can only be locked or opened in certain locations, etc.). In at least one embodiment, the control unit 114 includes a battery 604 for providing power to the control unit. Generally, this disclosure places no limitations on the types of batteries that may be used (e.g., rechargeable, alkaline, lithium, button, removable, etc.). Continuing with this embodiment, the control unit 114 also includes Bluetooth 606 and/or other wireless networking 610 (e.g., Zigbee, Wifi, etc.) to facilitate wireless communication between the control unit 114 and a central management system, i.e., a lock system. In particular embodiments, the Bluetooth 606, wireless networking 610, and GPS 602 are located on a circuit board 616 included in the control unit 114. In at least one

embodiment, the circuit board 616 also contains a speaker 614 to provide audible user feedback (e.g., instructions, indications of approval or denial of an access key, etc.), a light 620 (e.g., LED, etc.) to provide visual feedback, a USB port 612 for charging and updating the control unit 114, and an input method actuator 618 for toggling the input method 608 between on and off states. Generally, the present disclosure places no limitations on the size or shape of the control unit 114.

In various embodiments, the central management system permits the management of lock housing units (e.g., lock housing unit 112) and control units 114. In some embodiments, the central management system, i.e., lock system, provides a mechanism for maintaining an inventory of lock housing units and control units. In at least one embodiment, the lock system provides a mechanism for managing users and access permissions to lock housing units.

In various embodiments, to lock a lock housing unit 112, the control unit 114 is attached and paired to the lock housing unit via the connectors 508 and 600. Generally, the control unit 114 is powered and connected to a network via Bluetooth 606 or other wireless network 610. In one embodiment, a motor (e.g., motor 506) moves and locks a shackle (e.g., shackle 104) into place. In another embodiment, the shackle is manually manipulated and then locked into place by a motor. In some embodiments, upon locking the shackle, the lock housing unit records the time and location from the GPS 602 as well as the status of the shackle from the shackle sensor 504, and shares this information with the control unit 114 for management of the lock housing unit, auditing purposes, etc.

Continuing with this embodiment, to unlock a lock housing unit (e.g., lock housing unit 112), the control unit 114 is attached and paired to the lock housing unit via the connectors 508 and 600. Generally, the control unit 114 is powered and connected to a network via Bluetooth 606 or other wireless networking 610. In particular embodiments, the user may press the input method actuator 618 on the control unit 114 to turn on the input method 608. In various embodiments, upon a user’s attempt to authenticate via the input method 608, the control unit 114 securely transmits an access key generated from the input method 608 and the unique identifier of the lock housing unit to the lock system (e.g., central management system) via wireless communication for verification. Continuing with this embodiment, the lock system checks its access list to confirm that the access key is valid for that particular lock housing unit. In one embodiment, the lock system also receives and confirms that the location data corresponding to the lock housing unit is correct. In the event of a valid access key for the particular lock housing unit, the lock system (e.g., central management system) sends the control unit 114 an encrypted command to open the shackle (e.g., shackle 104). In the event of a failed access key for the particular lock housing unit, the lock system commands the control unit 114 to not open the shackle or does not send an encrypted command to open the shackle.

From the foregoing, it will be understood that various aspects of the processes described herein are software processes that execute on computer systems that form parts of the system. Accordingly, it will be understood that various embodiments of the system described herein are generally implemented as specially-configured computers including various computer hardware components and, in many cases, significant additional features as compared to conventional or known computers, processes, or the like, as discussed in greater detail herein. Embodiments within the scope of the present disclosure also include computer-readable media for carrying or having computer- executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such computer-readable media can be any available media which can be accessed by a computer, or downloadable through communication networks. By way of example, and not limitation, such computer-readable media can comprise various forms of data storage devices or media such as RAM, ROM, flash memory, EEPROM, CD-ROM, DVD, or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage, solid state drives (SSDs) or other data storage devices, any type of removable non-volatile memories such as secure digital (SD), flash memory, memory stick, etc., or any other medium which can be used to carry or store computer program code in the form of computer-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, specially-configured computer, mobile device, etc.

When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a computer, the computer properly views the connection as a computer- readable medium. Thus, any such a connection is properly termed and considered a computer-readable medium. Combinations of the above should also be included within the scope of computer-readable media. Computer-executable instructions comprise, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing device such as a mobile device processor to perform one specific function or a group of functions.

Those skilled in the art will understand the features and aspects of a suitable computing environment in which aspects of the disclosure may be implemented.

Although not required, some of the embodiments of the claimed systems may be described in the context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules or engines, as described earlier, being executed by computers in networked environments. Such program modules are often reflected and illustrated by flow charts, sequence diagrams, exemplary screen displays, and other techniques used by those skilled in the art to communicate how to make and use such computer program modules. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, functions, objects, components, data structures, application programming interface (API) calls to other computers whether local or remote, etc. that perform particular tasks or implement particular defined data types, within the computer. Computer-executable instructions, associated data structures and/or schemas, and program modules represent examples of the program code for executing steps of the methods disclosed herein. The particular sequence of such executable instructions or associated data structures represent examples of corresponding acts for implementing the functions described in such steps.

Those skilled in the art will also appreciate that the claimed and/or described systems and methods may be practiced in network computing environments with many types of computer system configurations, including personal computers, smartphones, tablets, hand-held devices, multi-processor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, networked PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. Embodiments of the claimed system are practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by local and remote processing devices that are linked (either by hardwired links, wireless links, or by a combination of hardwired or wireless links) through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.

An exemplary system for implementing various aspects of the described operations, which is not illustrated, includes a computing device including a processing unit, a system memory, and a system bus that couples various system components including the system memory to the processing unit. The computer will typically include one or more data storage devices for reading data from and writing data to. The data storage devices provide nonvolatile storage of computer-executable instructions, data structures, program modules, and other data for the computer.

Computer program code that implements the functionality described herein typically comprises one or more program modules that may be stored on a data storage device. This program code, as is known to those skilled in the art, usually includes an operating system, one or more application programs, other program modules, and program data. A user may enter commands and information into the computer through keyboard, touch screen, pointing device, a script containing computer program code written in a scripting language or other input devices (not shown), such as a microphone, etc. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit through known electrical, optical, or wireless connections.

The computer that effects many aspects of the described processes will typically operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers or data sources, which are described further below. Remote computers may be another personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common network node, and typically include many or all of the elements described above relative to the main computer system in which the systems are embodied. The logical connections between computers include a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), virtual networks (WAN or LAN), and wireless LANs (WLAN) that are presented here by way of example and not limitation. Such networking environments are commonplace in office-wide or enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets, and the Internet.

When used in a LAN or WLAN networking environment, a computer system implementing aspects of the system is connected to the local network through a network interface or adapter. When used in a WAN or WLAN networking environment, the computer may include a modem, a wireless link, or other mechanisms for establishing communications over the wide area network, such as the Internet. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the computer, or portions thereof, may be stored in a remote data storage device. It will be appreciated that the network connections described or shown are exemplary and other mechanisms of establishing communications over wide area networks or the Internet may be used.

While various aspects have been described in the context of a preferred embodiment, additional aspects, features, and methodologies of the claimed systems will be readily discernible from the description herein, by those of ordinary skill in the art. Many embodiments and adaptations of the disclosure and claimed systems other than those herein described, as well as many variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements and methodologies, will be apparent from or reasonably suggested by the disclosure and the foregoing description thereof, without departing from the substance or scope of the claims. Furthermore, any sequence(s) and/or temporal order of steps of various processes described and claimed herein are those considered to be the best mode contemplated for carrying out the claimed systems. It should also be understood that, although steps of various processes may be shown and described as being in a preferred sequence or temporal order, the steps of any such processes are not limited to being carried out in any particular sequence or order, absent a specific indication of such to achieve a particular intended result. In most cases, the steps of such processes may be carried out in a variety of different sequences and orders, while still falling within the scope of the claimed systems. In addition, some steps may be carried out simultaneously, contemporaneously, or in synchronization with other steps.

Aspects, features, and benefits of the claimed technology will become apparent from the information disclosed in the exhibits and the other applications as incorporated by reference. Variations and modifications to the disclosed systems and methods may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the disclosure.

It will, nevertheless, be understood that no limitation of the scope of the disclosure is intended by the information disclosed in the exhibits or the applications incorporated by reference; any alterations and further modifications of the described or illustrated embodiments, and any further applications of the principles of the disclosure as illustrated therein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the disclosure relates.

The foregoing description of the exemplary embodiments has been presented only for the purposes of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the technology to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.

The embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the technology and their practical application so as to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the technology and various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. Alternative embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the technology pertains without departing from their spirit and scope. Accordingly, the scope of the present technology is defined by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description and the exemplary embodiments described therein.