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Title:
PROXIMITY SENSING AND CONTROL SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/021919
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention provides a proximity sensing and control system configured to enable a substrate such as walls, flooring, doors, furniture, cabinetry, and/or vehicles and machinery, to sense and respond to the presence, absence and/or movement of an object at a distance to, but not in contact with, the substrate.

Inventors:
GLENNY, Mark William (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
HUNTER, Geoffrey Benjamin Mark (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
VAN DER WERFF, Matthew John (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
ABPLANALP, Phillip Samuel (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
SOUTHERN, Terry Robin (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
Application Number:
NZ2017/050103
Publication Date:
February 01, 2018
Filing Date:
July 27, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
RESENE PAINTS LIMITED (32-50 Vogel Street, NaenaeLower Hutt, 5011, 5011, NZ)
International Classes:
H03K17/96; G06F3/01; H03K17/945
Domestic Patent References:
2011-08-18
2017-09-08
Foreign References:
US20100292945A12010-11-18
US20130100033A12013-04-25
ES2376453A12012-03-14
EP0334531A11989-09-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BALDWINS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (PO Box 852, Wellington, 6011, 6011, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) presence of an object; and/or

b) absence of an object; and/or

c) movement of an object; and/or

d) sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts an electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal.

2. The proximity sensing and control system according to claim 1 , configured to generate a binary control signal that is indicative of whether or not the object is within a predetermined range of the substrate.

3. The proximity sensing and control system according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the movement that is detected may be selected from: movement of the entire object and/or movement of only a part or parts of the object.

4. The proximity sensing and control system according to any one of claims 1-3, wherein the system is configured to detect any one or more of:

a) movement of the object in a direction across the substrate;

b) movement of the object towards or away from the substrate;

c) the direction of movement of the object relative to the substrate;

d) the speed of movement of the object relative to the substrate; and/or

e) multiple sequential movements.

5. The proximity sensing and control system according to any one of claims 1-4, wherein the system is configured to distinguish or differentiate one or more movements from one or more other movements selected from:

a) the type of movement, such as two swipe gestures and three swipe gestures;

b) the speed of movement, such as the speed of one gesture relative to the speed of another gesture;

c) the direction of movement, such as the direction of an object parallel to the substrate from the direction of an object moving towards or away from an object;

d) the frequency of movement, such as the number of movements detected within a given sampling time period;

e) the number of movements, for example a gesture with one hand from a gesture by both hands, or the movement of one object from movement of multiple objects. 6. The proximity sensing and control system according any one of claims 1 -5, wherein the control signal is an alarm signal indicative of the presence of the object.

7. The proximity sensing and control system according any one of claims 1 -6, wherein the control signal is used to control a further electronic device, apparatus or system selected from:

a) a security system including a security sensor and or security camera;

b) a camera or other optical/acoustic recording device;

c) a light or lighting system;

d) a mobile telecommunications device, such as a mobile telephone;

e) an electronic data processor such as a laptop or PC; and

f) a barrier device such as an electronic gate, door or security screen.

8. The proximity sensing and control system according any one of claims 1 -7, wherein the electrically conductive active layer is adapted to cover the surface area of the substrate.

9. The proximity sensing and control system according any one of claims 1 -7, wherein the electrically conductive active layer is adapted to provide one or more discrete areas on the substrate such that the surface area of the substrate comprises at least one detecting region and at least one non-detecting region which is either not coated with the electrically active layer, or which is coated with at least two electrically active layers which are controlled to cancel each other out so as not to be able to detect the presence and/or movement of the object.

10. A proximity sensing and control system according to any one of claims 1-10, wherein the at least one electrical property of the at least one electrically conductive active layer is capacitance.

11. A proximity sensing and control system according to any one of claims 1-11 , wherein the electronic controllers are configured to communicate with other electronic controllers, or electronic devices. 12. A proximity sensing and control system according to claim 12, wherein the substrate is selected from: interior walls; exterior walls; windows, interior or exterior; floors, ceilings; furniture, tables, cabinets, cupboards, drawers, shelving; doors; fences; decks; roofs; roads, pathways and/or driveways, vehicles and machines. 13. A proximity sensing and control system according to any one of the preceding claims configured to detect the absence of the object.

14. A proximity sensing and control system according to claim 13 wherein the absence of an object is detected by processing a continuous disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field of the active layer when the object is in the proximity of the substrate, and subsequently processing a change in the, or the absence of the, continuous disruption when the object moves away from the substrate.

15. A proximity sensing and control system according to any one of the preceding claims comprising a plurality of substrates, each substrate comprising a respective controller and electrically conductive active layer, wherein the controller of one substrate is configured to be able to communicate with the controller of the other substrate.

16. A proximity sensing and control system according to claim 15 comprising a wireless transceiver configured to communicate wirelessly between controllers.

17. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein a movement or sequence of movements of a living object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from: movement of fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet and/or legs of the living object.

18. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein a sequence of movements of an object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from: multiple sequential movements of parts of the object.

19. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein a movement or sequence of movements of an object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electrical property of the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from any one or more of:

a) sequential side-to-side movement of the entire object or part of the object in a

direction generally parallel with the substrate; and b) sequential forward and backward movements of the entire object or parts of the object towards or away from the substrate.

20. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least two electronic controllers; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein the electronic controllers are configured to communicate with each other and/or a further electronic device or system; and

wherein the presence of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controllers to provide a control signal which is used to control the further electronic device.

21. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers each having at least one

independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least two electronic controllers; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein the electronic controllers are configured to communicate with each other and or a further electronic device or system; and

wherein the movement of an object or part(s) of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controllers to provide a control signal which is used to control the further electronic device.

22. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising: at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least one security sensor; and

an electronic controller; wherein

the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein the security sensor is selected from at least one of a touch-activated, light- activated, infrared, movement, microwave or acoustic security sensor; and

wherein the presence of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide an output signal; and wherein the system is configured to generate a control signal in dependence upon the output signal and a security signal or signals from the security sensor or sensors. 23. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers each having at least one

independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least one electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein one electrically conductive active layer comprises a top layer which is applied onto one or more areas of the other, underlying, electrically conductive active layer, with the electrically conductive active layers being separated by at least one dielectric layer; and

wherein the presence and/or movement of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by at least one of the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal;

wherein the one electrically conductive active layer is controlled, by its respective electronic controller, to have the same (static or oscillating) voltage level as the underlying electrically conductive active layer such that there is a net cancellation of the electric field over the area(s) where the top electrically conductive active layer has been applied such that the presence and/or movement detection is disabled over that area(s).

24. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal,

wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layer and the electronic controller is via an intermediate connector; and

wherein the intermediate connector comprises electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further electrically connected to the electronic controller;

25. A proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal; and wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layers and the electronic controller is via an intermediate connector; and

wherein the intermediate connector consists of electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further electrically connected to the electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer and the printed circuit are sandwiched together. 26. An intermediate connector for a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal;

wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layers and the electronic controller is via the intermediate connector; wherein

the intermediate connector comprises electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further configured to be electrically connected to the electronic controller.

Description:
PROXIMITY SENSING AND CONTROL SYSTEM

TECHNICAL FIELD This invention relates to a proximity sensing and control system configured to enable a substrate, particularly but not limited to a building substrate such as walls, flooring, doors, furniture, cabinetry, and/or vehicles and machinery, to sense and respond to the presence, absence and/or movement of an object at a distance to, but not in contact with, the substrate.

INTRODUCTION

Any discussion of the prior art throughout the specification should in no way be considered as an admission that such prior art is widely known or forms part of the common general knowledge in the field.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND ART

EP0334531 discloses a proximity detector which provides an output signal indicative of the approach of matter towards a target such as a wall, ceiling or door. The detector comprises a capacitor arranged in an electrical circuit and having a first (or target) electrode and a (preferably earthed) second electrode so disposed relatively to each other that the approach of matter towards the target causes a change in capacitance of the capacitor thereby providing the output signal. The first electrode comprises a layer of electrically conductive paint on the target which can respond sensitively enough to the change in dielectric caused by the approach of a human intruder towards the target for the change to be detectable for example as a change in the frequency of oscillation of an oscillator of which the capacitor forms part. Disadvantage of such a prior art system include unreliability and detection errors.

It is an object of the present invention to provide for an alternative and/or improved and/or more reliable proximity sensing and control system that may be used with a substrate.

Alternatively, it is an object of the invention to at least provide the public with a useful choice.

SUMMARY OF DISCLOSURE The present technology provides for proximity sensing and control systems capable of sensing and providing different responses to the presence and/or movement of an object using a sensor or sensors applied to a substrate surface of any shape or size, without the object necessarily touching the sensor.

STATEMENTS OF INVENTION

In a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) the absence of an object; and or

c) a movement of an object; and/or

d) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal.

When detecting the presence of an object, the system may be configured to generate a binary control signal indicative of whether or not the object is within a predetermined range of the substrate. The system may be further or alternatively configured to generate a control signal indicative of one or more other parameters such as the distance of the object from the substrate, or the time during which the system has detected the presence of the object.

The system may be configured to detect the presence of the object, and to subsequently detect the movement of the object. The system may be configured to detect the absence of the object, for example by processing a continuous disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field of the active layer when the object is in the proximity of the substrate, and subsequently processing a change in the, or the absence of the, continuous disruption when the object moves away from the substrate.

The movement that is detected may be selected from: movement of the entire object and/or movement of only a part or parts of the object.

The system may be configured to detect any one or more of:

a) movement of the object in a direction across the substrate;

b) movement of the object towards or away from the substrate;

c) the direction of movement of the object relative to the substrate;

d) the speed of movement of the object relative to the substrate; and/or

e) multiple sequential movements.

The system may be configured to distinguish or differentiate one or more movements from one or more other movements. For example, the system may be configured to differentiate between and or all of:

a) the type of movement, such as two swipe gestures and three swipe gestures;

b) the speed of movement, such as the speed of one gesture relative to the speed of another gesture;

c) the direction of movement, such as the direction of an object parallel to the substrate from the direction of an object moving towards or away from an object;

d) the frequency of movement, such as the number of movements detected within a given sampling time period;

e) the number of movements, for example a gesture with one hand from a gesture by both hands, or the movement of one object from movement of multiple objects.

In one example, the system is configured to be able to detect movement of the object relative to the substrate, and to subsequently detect the direction of movement of the object.

The control signal may be an alarm signal indicative of the presence of the object. The control signal may be used to control a further electronic device, apparatus or system. Such a further device, apparatus or system may include any one or more of:

a) a security system including a security sensor and/or security camera;

b) a camera or other optical acoustic recording device;

c) a light or lighting system;

d) a mobile telecommunications device, such as a mobile telephone;

e) an electronic data processor such as a laptop or PC;

f) a barrier device such as an electronic gate, door or security screen. The system may further comprise a security sensor configured to generate a security signal, and the controller may be configured to generate the control signal in dependence upon the output of the electrically conductive active layer and the security signal.

The security sensor may be selected from at least one of: a touch-activated, light-activated, infrared, movement, microwave or acoustic security sensor. When comprising or used with a security sensor, the system is configured to provide multiple, independent object detectors so as to provide a more robust system which may be subject to better detection rates and reduced error rates.

The system may comprise a plurality of substrates, each substrate comprising a respective controller and electrically conductive active layer, wherein the controller of one substrate is configured to be able to communicate with the controller of the other substrate. In one example, each system comprises a wireless transceiver configured to communicate wirelessly with the other.

The system may be configured to detect the presence and/or movement of an object being a living object such as an animal or a human. In this example, the system may utilise capacitive sensing.

The system may be configured to detect the presence and/or movement of an object being a metallic object such as a vehicle. In this example, the system may utilise inductive sensing. The system effectively comprises a proximity sensing system whereby the presence and or movement of one or more objects is detected without there being any physical contact between the object and the substrate. However, such a proximity sensing system may further comprise, or be configured to be in communication with, a touch sensing system comprising a substrate coated with an electrically conductive active layer, which generates a control signal from disruption of the electrically conductive active layer caused by one or more physical touches of the electrically conductive active layer. In one example, the substrate of the touch sensing system may be provided on the ground, and the substrate(s) of the proximity sensing system may be provided in a wall or ceiling adjacent the ground. The electrically conductive active layer may be provided so as to cover all of the surface area of the substrate. In another example, the electrically conductive active layer may be provided only on one or more discrete areas of the substrate such that the surface area of the substrate comprises at least one detecting region and at least one non-detecting region which is either not coated with the electrically conductive active layer, or which is coated with at least two electrically conductive active layers which are controlled to cancel each other out so as not to be able to detect the presence and/or movement of the object.

In one example, one or more non-detecting regions of the substrate may be provided with at least two electrically conductive active layers, separated by a dielectric layer so that the substrate has an at least partially laminate structure.

Where the substrate is provided with multiple detecting regions and multiple non-detecting regions, these regions may be spaced apart along the substrate. If the substrate is considered to have a longitudinal axis, the non-detecting regions may be spaced apart along the longitudinal axis, and/or perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The non-detecting regions may comprise stripes or strips that are spaced apart along or across the substrate. The electrically conductive active layer may therefore be provided in discrete detecting regions, such as stripes or strips, spaced apart along or across the substrate. The controller may be configured to detect the number and/or intensity of the disruption in electrical and/or magnetic field of one or more detecting regions when an object is proximal a number of those regions, and to generate the control signal accordingly.

In one example, the system may be provided in a building corridor or room, with multiple detecting and non-detecting regions being spaced apart along the corridor or room. In such a configuration the controller may be configured to detect not only the presence of an object in the corridor or room, but also the direction of movement of the object through the corridor or room.

The non-detecting regions, when used in a given space in a building for example, each define a volume of space excluded from detection. Thus when an object is in such an excluded volume of space, that object cannot be detected. Such an arrangement may advantageously provide selectivity with regard to which part of parts of a given space can be detected, and which cannot. In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising: at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein a movement or sequence of movements of a living object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from: movement of fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet and/or legs of the living object.

The living object may be a human or an animal. In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein a sequence of movements of an object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from: multiple sequential movements of parts of the object.

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

an electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and wherein a movement or sequence of movements of an object adjacent to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electrical property of the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide a control signal, and the movement is selected from any one or more of:

a) sequential side-to-side movement of the entire object or part of the object in a

direction generally parallel with the substrate; and

b) sequential forward and backward movements of the entire object or parts of the object towards or away from the substrate. In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least two electronic controllers; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein the electronic controllers are configured to communicate with each other and/or a further electronic device or system; and

wherein the presence of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controllers to provide a control signal which is used to control the further electronic device. In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers each having at least one

independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least two electronic controllers; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein the electronic controllers are configured to communicate with each other and/or a further electronic device or system; and

wherein the movement of an object or part(s) of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controllers to provide a control signal which is used to control the further electronic device.

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least one security sensor; and

an electronic controller; wherein

the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and

wherein the security sensor is selected from at least one of a touch-activated, light- activated, infrared, movement, microwave or acoustic security sensor; and

wherein the presence of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide an output signal; and wherein the system is configured to generate a control signal in dependence upon the output signal and a security signal or signals from the security sensor or sensors.

In one example, the controller may generate the control signal. In another example, the control signal may be generated by a further device, such as a remote computer, configured to receive the output signal from the controller. The security sensor may be applied to or attached to the substrate or separate from the substrate.

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least security sensor; and

an electronic controller; wherein

the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller; and wherein the security sensor is selected from at least one of a touch-activated, light- activated, infrared, movement, microwave or acoustic security sensor; and wherein the movement of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to provide an output signal; and wherein the system is configured to generate a control signal in dependence upon the output signal and a security signal or signals from the security sensor or sensors. In one example, the controller may generate the control signal. In another example, the control signal may be generated by a further device, such as a remote computer, configured to receive the output signal from the controller.

The security sensor may be applied or attached to the substrate or separate from the substrate.

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least two electrically conductive active layers each having at least one

independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

at least one electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with a respective electronic controller; and

wherein one electrically conductive active layer comprises a top layer which is applied onto one or more areas of the other, underlying, electrically conductive active layer, with the electrically conductive active layers being separated by at least one dielectric layer; and

wherein the presence and/or movement of an object in proximity to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layers disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by at least one of the electrically conductive active layers; and wherein the disruption is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal;

wherein the one electrically conductive active layer is controlled, by its respective electronic controller, to have the same (static or oscillating) voltage level as the underlying electrically conductive active layer such that there is a net cancellation of the electric field over the area(s) where the top electrically conductive active layer has been applied such that the presence and or movement detection is disabled over that area(s). In one example, more than one electronic controller may be provided.

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal,

wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layer and the electronic controller is via an intermediate connector; and

wherein the intermediate connector comprises electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further electrically connected to the electronic controller;

In an aspect of the invention, there is provided a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically conductive active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and/or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal; and

wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layers and the electronic controller is via an intermediate connector; and

wherein the intermediate connector consists of electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further electrically connected to the electronic controller; and

wherein the electrically conductive active layer and the printed circuit are sandwiched together.

In a further aspect of the invention there is provided an intermediate connector for a proximity sensing and control system for a substrate such as a building, wall, floor, ceiling, door, cabinetry, furniture, vehicle or machine, the proximity sensing and control system comprising:

at least one electrically active layer having at least one independent electrical property and configured to be applied to the substrate;

wherein the electrically conductive active layers are configured to have an electrical connection with an electronic controller; and

wherein at least one of:

a) the presence of an object; and or

b) a movement of an object; and/or

c) a sequence of movement

adjacent to, but not in contact with, the electrically conductive active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the electrically conductive active layer; and wherein the disruption in the electric and/or magnetic field is detected by the electronic controller to generate a control signal;

wherein the connection between the electrically conductive active layers and the electronic controller is via the intermediate connector; wherein

the intermediate connector comprises electrically conductive material configured to form an electrical connection between both the electrically conductive active layer and a printed circuit; and wherein the intermediate connector is further configured to be electrically connected to the electronic controller. Active layer

In an embodiment, the proximity sensing and control system may comprise a plurality of electrically active layers. The active layers may be selected from one or two active layers. Alternatively, the active layers may be selected from one to three active layers. Alternatively, the active layers may be selected from one to four active layers. Alternatively, the active layers may be selected from one to five active layers. Alternatively, the active layers may be greater than five active layers. The active layers may be arranged in a sandwich or laminate with other layers. The other layers may be additional active layers, or electrically inactive layers.

In an embodiment of the invention, the active layer has the capability to conduct and/or retain an electrical charge after application to a substrate, sufficient to function as a sensor configured to detect disruption to an electric and/or magnetic field generated by the electrically active layer.

In an embodiment, the active layer may substantially cover the substrate surface.

Alternatively, the active layer may partially cover the substrate surface. When the active layer partially covers the substrate surface, the active layer may comprise one or more active regions.

The one or more active regions may be arranged in any manner. Examples of possible arrangements of the one or more active regions may be selected from parallel lines or stripes of the one or more active regions on the substrate surface, grid arrangements of the one or more active regions on the substrate surface; a quadrant arrangement of the one or more active regions on the substrate surface; a random arrangement of the one or more active regions on the substrate surface; and a sequential arrangement of one or of the one or more active regions on the substrate surface. The active regions may be configured to provide a plurality of discrete active regions each of which, or one or more of which, when acting as a sensor is configured to provide a different control function of a common electrical device, and/or to control a different electrical device, and/or to control the same electrical device but in a different way. Each region may therefore be responsible for generating a signal which the controller is configured to be able to determine is particular to that region. The active regions may be configured to provide a plurality of discrete active regions each of which, or one or more of which, when acting as a sensor has a different electric potential. The difference in electric potential of the different active regions will enable capacitive and inductive sensing without the requirement for an electrical return path through the surroundings. An example of such a configuration is shown in Figure 1 B.

In an embodiment, the active layer comprises an active material. The active material is configured to provide the electrical property of the active layer. Preferably, the electrical property of the active layer that is detected and used by the controller to generate a control signal, is selected from a capacitive property (capacitance), resistive property (resistance), resistive-capacitive property, or an inductive property of the active layer (induction). Those of skill in the art will readily understand that the active material may comprise, and indeed may inherently include, one or more electrical properties and the use primarily of one electrical property does not exclude use of one or more of the other electrical properties.

In an embodiment, the active layer may be selected from capacitive active layers, resistive active layers, conductive-resistive active layers, and inductive active layers.

In an embodiment, the active layer is a relatively thin layer, as compared to the thickness of the substrate to which the active layer is applied. Preferably, the active layer is less than 1 mm in thickness. More preferably, the active layer is less than 0.1 mm in thickness. Yet more preferably, the active layer is less than 0.06 mm (60 microns) in thickness.

In an embodiment, the active layer may be hidden, obscured or embedded under a dielectric or non-electrically active layer. Alternatively, the active layer may be hidden, obscured or embedded under one or more dielectric or non-electrically active layers. Preferably, the active layer may be operated through the one or more dielectric layers, the one or more dielectric layers comprising dielectric material. Preferably, the dielectric material may be selected from: polymers, coatings, ceramics, cementitious materials, wood and wood composites, paper, cardboard, wallpaper, vinyl, laminates and glass Preferably additional gaseous dielectric material may separate the active layer and object. Preferably the gaseous dielectric material is air. The one or more dielectric layers may be of greater than of 100 mm thickness. Preferably, the one or more dielectric layers may be of less than 100 mm thickness. More preferably the one or more dielectric layers may be of less than 1 mm thickness. The additional gaseous dielectric material may be of greater than 100 mm thickness.

Preferably the additional gaseous dielectric material may be of between 1 mm and 10 m. More preferably the additional gaseous dielectric material may be of between 1 mm and 1 m.

In another embodiment, the one or more dielectric layers may provide aesthetic features to emphasise the location of the active layer on the substrate.

In another embodiment, the active layer may be left exposed.

Preferably, the active layer is covered with a dielectric layer to improve or disguise the appearance of the active layer.

In an embodiment, the active layer may comprise an aesthetic feature to emphasise the location of proximity sensitive locations. Aesthetic features may be selected from colours, textures, logos, branding or any combination of the aforementioned.

The active layer may be a coating that is applied to the substrate in liquid form. The coating may be selected from: a paint, a lacquer, and a gel for example. Preferably, the coating is a paint. Preferably, the coating dries to solidify on the substrate. Preferably, the coating is a waterbome coating.

In an embodiment, the active layer is a dispersion comprising active material particles dispersed within a dispersing medium. Preferably, the dispersion is a coating material. Preferably, the dispersion is an aqueous dispersion. Preferably, the dispersing medium provides sufficient contact between the active material particles to retain the electrical property when the active layer is applied to a substrate. Preferably, the dispersing medium provides sufficient contact between the active material particles to retain the electrical property when the active layer is applied to a substrate and the active layer dries on the substrate. The dispersing medium may be a polymeric material capable of film formation. Preferably, the film is formed under ambient conditions.

Polymeric materials capable of film formation may be selected from, but not limited solely to: acrylic copolymers; polyurethanes; epoxies; hydrocarbon polymers; modified hydrocarbon polymers; polycarbonates; polyesters, including natural oil derived polymers such as alkyds; silicone polymers; mixtures and hybrid polymers of the aforementioned. These and many other polymers suitable for film formation are commonly known to those skilled in the art. Polymeric materials capable of film formation may also be selected from polymers that are formed in-situ from monomeric precursors. These and many other polymers are known to those skilled in the art.

Polymers or polymeric precursors capable of film formation may be used without a solvent, or without dissolution or dispersion in a suitable solvent. Suitable solvents for use in the film forming component of the active layer include: water; acrylic dispersions and solutions; styrene-acrylic dispersions and solutions; and organic solvents or a combination of the aforementioned. In an embodiment, the active layer may optionally comprise one or more agents selected from: dispersing agents, rheology modifiers, extender pigments, biocides, defoamers, surfactants, processing aids, film forming aids and co-solvents.

Preferably when the active layer is a coating material, the coating material comprises dispersing agents, rheology modifiers, extender pigments, biocides, defoamers, surfactants, processing aids, film forming aids and co-solvents. Preferred coatings are waterborne coatings. Preferably, the waterborne coatings have low impact on local environments and allow easy clean-up. Proximity Tuning bv active layers

Tuning of the detection space surrounding the active layer or layers is possible by careful positioning and arrangement of multiple active layers and/or by controlling the electric potential of one or more active layers. Such tuning can be utilised for excluding detection of an object in specific spaces adjacent to the active layers. In an embodiment one or more independent active layer located in close proximity to the primary active layer may be maintained at the same electric potential as the primary active layer which eliminates the electric field in a space between the active layers. In a further embodiment, the distance between independent active layers of different electric potential determines the distance an electric field existing between the active layers extends into space.

Active Materials

In an embodiment of the invention, the electrically conductive active material has the capability to provide an electrical property after application to a substrate, sufficient to function as a sensor configured to detect disruption caused by the presence and/ or movement of an object to the electric and or magnetic field provided by the active material.

Preferably, the active material is present in the active layer in the range of from about 1 % w/w\o about 30 % w/woi the active layer.

Preferably, the active material is present in the active layer in the range of from about 5 % w/w to about 25 % w/w of the active layer.

Preferably, the active material that is present in the active layer in the range of from about 10 % w/w to about 20 % w/w of the active layer. In an embodiment, the active material may comprise any conductive or conductive-resistive material or combination of materials to produce the electrical property of the active layer a change or disruption to which is detected by the controller. Those of skill in the art will readily understand that the active material will comprise a number of electrical properties and the active layer may be selected to particularly exhibit or enhance one or more of those electrical properties. Those of skill in the art will also realise that stability, particularly to surface oxidation when metallic materials are utilised, is an important feature in order for conductivity to be retained for an extended period of time.

In an embodiment of the invention, the active material may be selected from: carbon; metals; metal coated materials; and metal oxides, or a combination thereof. Preferably, the active material comprises carbon. The active material may be in the form of particles. Preferably, active material particles are selected from one or more of: powders, flakes, plates, platelets, fibres, micro-particles, nano- particles, micro-fibres, nano-fibres, and nano-tubes, or a combination thereof. In an embodiment of the invention, the active material may be selected from one or more of carbon in the form of flakes, powders, fibres, nano-fibres, nano-tubes, nano-particles.

Carbon may be selected from, but not limited solely to, graphene, graphite, carbon black, and lamp black. Examples of suitable carbon materials are CARBOBYK-9810, which is a water-borne carbon nanotube dispersion for enhancing mechanical properties, is capable of electrical conductivity and antistatic behaviour, and supplied by BYK Additives &

Instruments. Other suitable carbon materials may be XPB 545 and Printex XE2-B that are conductive carbon black pigments supplied by Orion Engineered Carbons.

In an embodiment of the invention, active materials may be selected from metals and alloys in the form of flakes, powders, plates, platelets, particles, micro-particles, nano-particles, nano-rods, fibres, micro-fibres, nano-fibres. Metals may be selected from, but not limited solely to copper, silver, copper coated with silver, aluminium, nickel, chromium, zinc, palladium, gold, platinum, cadmium and tin. Examples of useful stable metallic materials include, but are not limited solely to, eConduct Copper 122000, eConduct Copper 420500 and eConduct Copper 421000 all supplied by Eckart Effect Pigments, which are fine copper powders coated with silver. Metal capacitive materials may also include, but are not limited solely to, metal doors, metal door handles, metallic cladding, and metallic roofing material.

In an embodiment of the invention, active materials may be selected from metal coated materials in the form of powders, flakes, fibres, microparticles, nano-particles, fibres, nano- fibres, and nano-tubes. Metal coated materials may be selected from, but not limited solely to, silvered conductive inorganic powders, gold coated powders, nickel coated powders and copper coated powders. Specific examples of useful materials include, but are not limited solely to silver coated micro-fibres of typical dimensions 14 x 50 microns and volume resistivity of 2 mQ.cm such as CE55 from Shepherd Technologies; silver coated micro- platelets of typical dimensions 1 x 10 x 10 microns and volume resistivity of 1 mQ.cm such as PL10 from Shepherd Technologies; silver coated microspheres of typical diameter 15 microns and volume resistivity of 1 mQ.cm such as MS15 from Shepherd Technologies; silver coated PMMA particles with diameters in the range of 5-125 microns available from Coshperic; gold coated to about 20 nm thickness on barium titanate glass microspheres with typical diameters in the range 30-1 OOum available from Cospheric; nickel coated hollow glass microspheres of average 17 micron diameter from Cospheric; and resin particles coated with double layers of nickel-gold such as BRIGHT GNR-EH from Nippon Chemical Industrial Co.

In an embodiment of the invention active materials may be selected from metal oxides including indium and antimony tin oxides, other doped tin oxides, doped zinc oxides, doped cadmium oxides, silver oxides and titanates. Examples of applicable metal oxides include, but are not limited solely to, electro-conductive powders supplied by Zelec such as antimony doped tin oxide; and VP ITO grades from Evonik. In an embodiment of the invention, the active materials may be conductive polymers that may be selected from polyanilines; polyacetylenes; polypyrroles; polythiophenes; modified polystyrenes and their combinations; and derivatives and/or any combination of the aforementioned. Examples of conductive polymers include, but are not limited to, Poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) such as Clevios FAS8 supplied by Heraeus; and Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) such as Clevios PH 1000 supplied by Heraeus.

In an embodiment of the invention, active material is present at a level exceeding the percolation threshold for the particular active layer where the percolation threshold denotes the lower limit of conductivity for a particular active material in an active layer.

In an embodiment, the active material may provide the electrical property of resistance. The active material providing the electronic property of resistance must have a resistance that is greater than the resistance of a metal or metal alloy. Suitable resistive materials are known to those of skill in the art.

Additional electrically conductive active layers

In an embodiment of the invention, one or more additional electrically conductive active layers may be used in conjunction with the primary active layer.

In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive active layers have higher electrical conductance than the primary active layer. In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may have an area less than, or equal to the area of the active layer. Preferably the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 100 % of the area of the active layer. More preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 80 % of the area of the active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 75 % of the area of the active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 50 % of the area of active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 20 % of the area of the active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 15 % of the area of the active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 10 % of the area of active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area less than 5 % of the area of active layer. Yet more preferably, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has an area between 1-5 % of the area of active layer.

Preferably, when the additional electrically conductive layer is less than the area of the active layer, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers has at least one region arranged to have a conductive area. In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may comprise metals or comprise metallic materials as conductive elements. Metals or metallic materials may be selected from a metal sheet, foil or strip, a metal-filled polymer, and a metal- containing coating. Preferably, the metals as conductive elements of the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be selected from copper silver, copper coated with silver, aluminium, nickel, chromium, zinc, palladium, gold, platinum, cadmium and tin. Preferably, the metallic material as conductive elements of the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be selected from silvered conductive inorganic powders, gold coated powders, nickel coated powders and copper coated powders.

In an embodiment, the region of the additional electrically conductive layer is arranged to have a conductive area that may be selected from: a metallic strip, and a metallic coating material containing metallic pigments. The region configured to have a conductive area may be adhered to a dielectric material. Alternatively, the region configured to have a conductive area may be adhered to the active layer by a conductive adhesive. Preferably, the conductive adhesive is a self-adhesive material. Conductive adhesives include metal and carbon-filled adhesives. Specific examples are silver Conductive Epoxy with a 4 hour working time and 0.0007 Q-cm resistivity such as 8330S from MG Chemicals. Self-adhesive materials include, but are not limited solely to woven, non-woven and foam tapes; double or single sided with X, XY or XYZ conductivity and metal foil tapes. Specific examples include XYZ conductive acrylic on conductive woven backing with 0.2 Ohm square surface resistance such as Tesa 60253, supplied by Tesa; and copper EMI Shielding Tape of 0.1 mm thickness such as 1245 Tape, from 3M.

Preferably, the metallic strip is selected from: metal wires, metal channels, metal strips, metal foils, and strips of sheet metal.

Preferably, the metallic coating material containing metallic pigments is selected from copper, silver, copper coated with silver, aluminium, nickel, chromium, zinc, palladium, gold, platinum, cadmium , tin, silvered conductive inorganic powders, gold coated powders, nickel coated powders and copper coated powders.

Layout of additional electrically conductive layers

In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be applied on top of the active layer, on the periphery (edges) of the active layer, or under the active layer. In an embodiment, where the additional electrically conductive layer is less than the area of the active layer as described above, there may be more than one additional electrically conductive layer. In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be arranged in a parallel orientation, a grid orientation or a loop orientation. In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be applied on top of or under the active layer separated by a dielectric layer.

In an embodiment, the one or more additional electrically conductive layers may be a connecting means configured to form a connection to the electrically active layer, or to other additional electrically conductive layers.

Topcoat layers

In an embodiment, the active layer may be coated with one or more topcoat layers. Those of skill in the art will realise that the topcoat layer does not need to be applied directly to the active layer. Where additional conductive layers are on top of the active layer, the topcoat may be applied to the uppermost layer.

A topcoat layer may be preferable where the active layer is limited in colour range, where the active layer is not transparent or where the active layer is to be obscured. The topcoat layer may provide a more aesthetically pleasing colour or feature. For example, when the active layer is a coating material and comprises carbon black as the conductive or conductive- resistive material, it may be desirable to hide the active layer from view and provide a more aesthetically pleasing colour or feature or to hide the presence of the active layer. The topcoat layer may provide or comprise an aesthetic feature. The topcoat layer may be a decorative coating. Aesthetic features may be selected from glosses, textures, patterns and colour variations.

Alternatively, a transparent topcoat layer, a semi-transparent topcoat layer or an opaque topcoat layer may be applied over any active layer. Semi-transparent or opaque topcoat layers may be selected from, but not limited solely to another coating, laminates, wallpapers or films.

Preferably, the active layer is insoluble or has limited solubility in the topcoat layer. Base layers

In an embodiment, the active layer may be applied on top of one or more base layers.

Preferably, the base layers may be selected from, but are not limited solely to, sealers and primers.

Further electronic devices

In one or more embodiments, one or more further electronic devices may be provided in addition to the one or more electronic controllers. These further electronic devices may connect to the one or more electronic controllers via a suitable connecting arrangement. These further electronic devices may be configured to receive and/or send information to and/or from the one or more electronic controllers. Such information could be used in relation to detection of the presence and/or movement detection of an object, and /or any subsequent functionality that the system may provide, via the generated control signal after presence and/or movement of the object has been detected.

For example, a further electronic device could be used to receive object proximity information from one or more electronic controllers and then communicate this information to an operator. Alternatively, the further electronic device could be used to send configuration information (such as sensitivity or gesture settings) to the one or more electronic controllers.

Examples of a further electronic device which comprise part of, or be configured to be in communication with, a system in accordance with the invention, include: smart phones; tablets; personal computers; laptops; netbooks; computer servers; other embedded electronic devices; any other electronic devices that can send and/or receive electronic information.

Communication between devices

In an embodiment of the invention, there may exist one or more further electronic devices in addition to the one or more electronic controllers.

The electronic controllers may communicate with all or a specified selection of other electronic controllers. The electronic controllers may communicate with all or a specified selection of further electronic devices. Additionally, the further electronic devices communicate with all or a specified selection of other further electronic devices.

Communication may be via a wired or wireless connection means.

In some examples, the net result is a networked array of electronic devices that can be utilised for the purpose of detecting the presence and/or movement detection of an object.

For example, a first electronic controller may detect a proximity event and then stop detecting that event. At some later time, an adjacent second electronic controller may then also detect a subsequent proximity event and then stop detecting that subsequent event. This detection pattern may also apply to a third or any other number of electronic controllers. Should the electronic controllers communicate this proximity event information to other networked electronic controllers and/or further electronic devices, then it will be possible to infer, via suitable control algorithms which may be executed on one or more of the electronic controllers or via a remote server for example, that an object is moving.

Security sensors

In an embodiment of the invention, there may exist one system consisting of one or more electronic controllers which are connected to one or more electrically conductive active layers. This system may be capable of detecting objects, such as human bodies for the purposes of security monitoring for example.

Additionally, there may exist another system consisting of one or more further electronic devices, which may be connected to different security sensors, such as touch-activated, light-activated, infrared, movement, microwave or acoustic security sensors.

These multiple systems might be connected together, via wired or wireless means, to form a super system. Information, such as object detection information for security purposes, from any or each of these systems might be received and processed by additional further electronic devices, and used to issue a control signal command.

The combination of these two or more types of systems may result in an end to end security system which is more capable and/or sophisticated and/or reliable compared with either individual system acting alone. Substrate surface

In an embodiment of the invention, the active layer may be applied to a substrate surface. The active layer may in some embodiments be configured to be applied to a substrate of any size, with no upper limit on the size of substrate. For example, if the active layer is in liquid coating form, the coating may be applied onto the substrate in whatever quantity is required to cover or pattern the substrate. Thus, walls of buildings may be entirely covered or patterned in the active layer. The active layer may be suitable for application to a substrate having a surface area of at least about 0.005 m 2 , 0.01 m 2 , 0.05 m 2 , 0.5 m 2 , 1 m 2 , or 10 m 2 , 100 m 2 , or larger as required.

Any substrate may be covered with an active layer including uneven surfaces, textured surfaces, patterned surfaces, rounded or spherical surfaces, surfaces with cut-outs, hard surfaces, soft surfaces, metallic surfaces, glass surfaces, wood, engineered wood, wood composites, paper surfaces, plastic surfaces and corners of any angle.

Substrates may be selected from interior walls; exterior walls; windows, interior or exterior; floors, ceilings; furniture, tables, cabinets, cupboards, drawers, shelving; doors; fences; decks; roofs; roads, pathways and/or driveways, vehicles and machines. The substrates are not limited to flat surfaces such as the aforementioned and could be curved or arcuate for example.

More preferably, the substrate surfaces have an area greater than 0.01 m 2 . Alternatively, the substrate surfaces have an area greater than 0.05 m 2 . Alternatively, the substrate surfaces have an area greater than 0.5 m z . Alternatively, the substrate surfaces have an area greater than 1 m 2 . Alternatively, the substrate surfaces have an area greater than 10 m 2 . In an embodiment, the substrate surface includes comers or joins in the area substrate; for example, the corners in walls, buildings or fences.

In a further embodiment, the active layer may be applied to sheets and/or films of materials. Such sheets and films may be selected from, but are not limited solely to: wood; engineered wood; wood composites; plasterboard; cement; plastic; adhesive materials including, but not limited solely to wallpaper, vinyl laminating film; and glass sheets. Means to apply the active layer

The active layer may be applied by any means suitable for the substrate and may be selected from, but not limited solely to: spray atomization; manual mechanical means;

adhesive and self-adhesive means, printing methods may also be used for reduced viscosity formulations and for automated processes.

Preferably, the active layer may be applied by any means suitable for the substrate and, when applied as a liquid coating, may be selected from, but not limited solely to: spray atomization including airless spray, low volume/low pressure spray (LVLP), and pressure pots; manual mechanical means including, but not limited solely to, roller sleeves and brushes; printing methods may also be used for reduced viscosity formulations and for automated processes. Eectroniq controller connecting with the acf/Ve layer

In an embodiment, the electrically conductive active layer is connected to the electronic controller by one or more connections or connecting means which provide the means for electrical communication between the active layer and the electronic controller. The connecting means may comprise or be selected from one, or more than one, connection point.

In an embodiment, the connecting means may be a physical connecting means, or a remote connecting means.

In an embodiment, the connecting means may be the additional electrically conductive layer as described above.

In an embodiment, the physical connecting means may be selected from electrically conductive adhesive, electrically conductive tapes, conductive wires, conductive surfaces, mechanical contact, screws, screw plates, bolts, the additional electrically conductive layers, and any combination of the aforementioned.

In an embodiment, the remote connecting means may include wireless connectivity.

In an embodiment, the wireless connectivity may be selected from any one or more of: transmitters, receivers, transceivers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In an embodiment, the connecting means may further comprise an intermediate connector. Preferably, the intermediate connector is arranged between the active layer and the electronic controller.

In an embodiment, the intermediate connector may comprise an electrically conductive area. An electrically conductive area may be selected from: metallic plates; electronic circuit boards, and/or electrical connector parts selected from switches, plugs and sockets. In an embodiment, the intermediate connector may be electrically connected to the active layer by a suitable means provided that electrical conductivity is maintained. In one example the intermediate connector may be adhered to the active layer. Suitable adhering means may be selected from but not limited to: electrically conductive adhesive, electrically conductive tapes, conductive wires, mechanical contact, screws, screw plates, bolts, the additional electrically conductive layers, and any combination of the aforementioned. The connection between the active layer and the intermediate connector may comprise a laminate region whereby part of the intermediate connection is laminated to part of the active layer. The intermediate connector may provide multiple connections between multiple active layers and multiple controllers. The intermediate connector may therefore allow independent electrical connections to be made between independent pairings of active layers and respective electrical connectors. When the active layer is a coating material, the connecting means may be formed by application of the active layer over an intermediate connector. Preferably, the connection between the active layer and the electronic controller is via an intermediate connector.

In an embodiment, the connecting means may connect the active layer to a further device or a network.

The active layer may comprise more than one connection such that more than one part or region of the active layer is connected to the controller. The controller may be configured to generate a control signal for controlling an electric device in dependence upon a comparison between signals received via different connections.

Gesture/ Movement Events The movement of an object that is detected may be a gesture or gestures including a differentiated gesture or gestures. The differentiated gesture is a gesture that is recognised by a controller as generating a control signal to actively control an electrical device. A differentiated gesture is intended to be indicative of a proximity event which disrupts the electric and or magnetic field of the electrically conductive active layer in a manner which is recognised by the system such that the disruption generates a control signal command that is executed by a controller. The or each controller may therefore be subject to a control algorithm or algorithms configured to differentiate between random gestures/movement of an object and gestures/movement of an object that are indicative of a proximity event of interest.

Those of skill in the art will readily understand that the active layer does not need to be visible and the electric property may be disrupted through additional layers on top of the active layer or when the active layer is obscured behind a dielectric object or objects. An intentional gesture does not inadvertently or accidentally cause a command to be executed. In other words, the controller is configured, by suitable control algorithms which may be implemented in hardware or software or via control signals generated by a remote or cloud server to process the detailed characteristics of the signal(s) generated. The signal(s) generated are indicative of the disruption to the electric property and the controller determines accordingly whether that disruption is from an intentional or accidental gesture event.

In an embodiment, the differentiated gesture may be a single gesture event which is also equivalent to detecting the movement of an entire object, or only part of the object.

Alternatively, the differentiated gesture event comprises multiple gesture events and/or continuous gesture events of an extended duration. A continuous gesture event is intended to include a gesture occurring over an extended, predetermined timeframe or a period of time where a body or partial body is stationary in the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer. The length of time considered to be an extended duration may be pre- programmed on the controller, or may be actively calculated by suitable algorithms on the controller, or may be able to be adjusted using the controller, for example by the user. The length of time considered to be an extended duration may be determined to vary in dependence upon the type of device or appliance being controlled by the system. In an embodiment, the differentiated gesture may be selected from multiple gesture events, a continuous gesture event of an extended duration, or a combination of multiple gesture events and continuous gesture events. In an embodiment, the movement events may be selected from movements parallel or perpendicular to the substrate and the active layer or combinations of parallel and perpendicular movements. If the substrate is planar, movement events may be parallel and/or perpendicular to the plane of the substrate, and may also be inclined relative to the plane of the substrate.

In an embodiment, parallel movements may be selected from hand waves, finger waves, and feet waves.

In an embodiment, perpendicular movements may be selected from hand waves, finger waves, and feet waves.

Preferably, when the differentiated gesture event is a multiple gesture event, the differentiated gesture events are multiple movements of all or part of the object through the electric and or magnetic field produced by the active layer. Multiple gestures may be selected from any one or more of: two movements, three movements, four movements, and five movements, and more than five movements. Preferably, multiple movements are selected from two movements and three movements. One or more movements may be of different duration from one or more other movements. Each movement may be defined electronically as a short pulse or step change disruption in the electric property.

Preferably, when the differentiated gesture event is a continuous gesture event, the differentiated gesture events are selected from: relatively slow movements and stationary events.

Preferably, slow movement events comprise the slow movement of an object through the electric and or magnetic field produced by the active layer. The slow movement event may allow the controller to vary a control signal within a predetermined range, for example to adjust the temperature of a heating device, or to adjust the duration of operation of an electrical device such as a light.

Preferably, stationary events comprise maintaining a position of an object in the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer over a predetermined time. Preferably, the predetermined time may be from about 100 ms to about 5 sec. Preferably, the predetermined time may be from about 200 ms to about 3 sec. More preferably, the predetermined time may be from about 300 ms to about 2 sec. Most preferably, the predetermined time may be from about 500 ms to 1 sec.

In an embodiment, when the differentiated gesture event is a combination of multiple gesture events and continuous gesture events, the multiple gesture events may be selected from: a combination of a single movement events and a continuous movement event; multiple continuous movement events, or alternatively, a combination of multiple movement events and one or more continuous events. For example a combination of multiple movement events and continuous movement events may be selected from a single wave of the object and a stationary object, or multiple waves of the object and a stationary object; or alternatively, a single fast wave and a slow wave, or multiple fast waves and a slow wave through the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer.

The differentiated gesture may be a single gesture that is applied to different active regions of the substrate. For example, as described above, the active layer may be configured on the substrate to provide multiple discrete active regions, each of which comprises a respective connection to the controller. The controller may be configured to be able to detect which particular region's electric and/or magnetic field is being disrupted, and to generate a control signal dependent on that particular region. Different regions may produce different control signals when that region's electric and or magnetic field is disrupted.

Objects to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic field of the active laver.

In an embodiment, any object having an electrical property sufficient to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer may be used to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer.

In an embodiment, objects that may be used to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer include a living object such as a human, and in particular a body or body parts: the head or parts of the head, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands or parts thereof, hips, legs; knees, feet or parts thereof. The object may comprise any object which incorporates one or more conductive materials, including vehicles and machinery for example. Alternatively, the electric and/ magnetic field may also be disrupted by an animal, for example a service or assistance animal such as a guide dog. Alternatively any object unconnected with a body or animal may be used to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic produced by the active layer. In an example, such an object has its own electric and/or magnetic field or capacitance or the object is polarisable in the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer. For example, the object might comprise a wrist or leg identity or security band, or some other form of portable identification such as a passport or driving licence. Applications/Uses

In an embodiment, a proximity sensing and control system comprising a proximity sensitive active coating layer for a substrate may be used for executing one or more commands to control an electrical device. In one example, the system may be used to switch an electrical device on or off.

In an embodiment, the proximity sensitive and control system may be used in the fields selected from: safety monitoring applications, security monitoring applications, energy conservation, commercial applications, industrial applications, retail and service applications, domestic applications, entertainment applications, home decor, roading, parking, vehicular, and machinery applications.

In an embodiment, the proximity sensitive system may be used in the field of safety monitoring. Preferably, an application in the field of safety monitoring includes having monitored areas, namely volumes or zones or spaces around substrates to which the active layer is applied; for example around hazardous equipment in industrial situations. The disruption to the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer when an object enters the monitored zone around hazardous machinery may cause a controller to execute an alarm command, so as to generate an audible or visible alarm, or turn the machinery off.

In an embodiment, the proximity sensitive system may be used in the field of security monitoring. The system may be used to detect one or more persons or intruders in restricted areas or areas with controlled access. The disruption to the electric and/or magnetic produced by the active layer may cause a controller to execute an alarm command or a warning system. The alarm or warning signal could be sent to a remote server or other electronic device to provide a remote alarm to a monitoring station or party. Such systems could be used in the justice system, for example in prisons and holding cells to detect occupancy or vacancy. Alternatively, the system could be applied to security in art galleries or museums, banks, building societies, government buildings, defence bases and airports and places that often have controlled or heightened security restrictions, for example, to detect the presence of an object in such areas. In another embodiment, the system may be used to conserve energy. For example, the system could be used to detect presence or movement in commercial buildings and activate or deactivate associated electrical devices accordingly. Uses include the notification of a party or person at a reception desk; automatic lighting on entering or exiting a room, and/or switching control of a heating system.

In a further embodiment, the system may also find use in a retail or hospitality environment such as a shop, café or hotel. The use may include: the automation of shop doors that detect a person(s) entering or leaving premises.

In a further embodiment, the system of the present invention may find use in domestic applications. For example, the switching on/off of domestic electrical appliances. Suitable electrical appliances may include: lighting, such as bedside lamps, ceiling lighting, outdoor lighting; televisions; computer systems; heating systems including underfloor heating, central heating systems, heat transfer systems; cooling systems such as air conditioning systems; ventilation systems including fans, ducting that allow transfer of air from one location to another; automatic opening doors including garage doors, doors to premises. The system of the present invention may find use in wet areas allowing for removal of any mechanical devices from a wet area and providing improved safety from electric shocks.

In a further embodiment, the system of the present invention may find use in industrial applications. For example, high ingress protection ratings may be obtained by locating any mechanical components of the system in a remote location which provides for intrinsically safe switching in areas where flammable materials are stored or used.

In a further embodiment, the system of the present invention may find use in roading and parking applications. For example, the system could be applied to a road surface to detect when a vehicle is stopped at a junction/intersection to facilitate effective traffic management, provided that the vehicle has an electrical property sufficient to disrupt the electric and/or magnetic produced by the active layer. The system could also be applied to vehicle parking spaces to detect the presence or absence of a vehicle in that space.

The system may be used to control any electronic device which requires a control signal to function. Such devices may be as simple as one or more light bulbs, through to one or more computers or microprocessors. DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Figure 1a shows a single ended capacitive proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention where capacitance is created by a differentiated proximity event 3 near the active layer 1. Any change in capacitance travels through a connection means which in this example comprises a node 7 to the electronic controller 5.

Figure 1b shows a differential capacitive proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention where capacitance from a differentiated proximity event 3 changes the capacitance. The active layer is arranged in a pattern with two (11a and 11b) discrete active regions on the substrate surface 9. Any change in capacitance travels through the active regions 11a and 11b, the connecting means 7 to the electronic controller 5 to execute a command. The two active regions 11a and 11b may be at a different electrical potential, thereby eliminating the requirement for an electrical return path through the surroundings.

Figure 2 shows a resistive capacitive wave proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention where the active layer 1 is a conductive resistive active layer. The proximity event 3 in a vertical axis 13 provides a series of resistances 15, which travel through node 7 to the electronic controller 5.

Figure 3 shows an inductive proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention. The active layer 1 is arranged as a loop 17 on the substrate surface 9 creating a magnetic field 21. Objects with magnetic permeability 19 disrupt the magnetic field 23 resulting in changes in inductance, which are transferred via the connecting means 7 to the controller 5.

Figure 4 shows a possible arrangement of the active layer 1 with other layers 25, 27 to form a basic capacitive resistive coating in a sandwich type arrangement. Figure 5 shows a possible arrangement of multiple active layers 31, 33 arranged in a grid pattern.

Figure 6 shows multiple electronic controllers 5 connected via wired and or wireless means with other electronic controllers 5 and further electronic devices 10 one of which comprises a computer or other Smart Phone or Tablet device which may be used to remotely connect 12 to any of these systems, and monitor and/or configure their behaviour. Other electronic sensors or transducers such as security sensors 14 may also be connected physically and/or wirelessly 12.

Figure 7 shows a proximity detection algorithm of system in accordance with the present invention, during a double wave event. Figure 8 shows a proximity detection algorithm in operation of a system in accordance with the present invention, recovering 41 from presence detection of an object 43 and subsequently detecting a double wave gesture event 44 while still in the presence of the original object.

Figure 9a shows a proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention with additional electrically conductive layers in the form of two strips. The active layer 1 comprises carbon paint and the additional electrical conductive layers 45 are strips of copper paint along the top and bottom of the area substrate 9.

Figure 9b shows a similar system to Figure 9A but with the addition of multiple electrically conductive layers 45 in the vertical direction. These connect with the electrically conductive layers 45 running in the horizontal direction.

Figure 10 shows wave proximity events response to different proximity positions near the active layer 47 = bottom end, 49 = middle end, 51 = top end.

Figure 11 shows a possible arrangement of electronic components in a proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention. Figure 12 shows the changes in the capacitance of the active layer, as measured at two additional conductive layers 45, as an object is moved toward and away from the additional conductive layers 45 thereby signifying a wave event.

Figure 13 shows how signal quality may be affected by mains power electricity in close proximity to the coating system.

Figure 14 shows the addition of two driven shields 51 which are separated from the active layer 1 by an insulating layer 53. The driven shields 51 are driven to the same voltage as the active layer 1. This blocks the electric field and creates exclusion zones or non-detecting regions 55 in which objects will not be detected by the electronic controller 5.

Figure 15a shows the formation of fringe fields 57 between two active layers 1 that are driven differentially and lying on the same substrate. The two active layers 1 are spaced far enough away for each other that large fringe fields 57 are created, enabling the detection of objects far away from the active layers 1.

Figure 15b shows a similar concept to Figure 15a, except the active layers 1 are spaced closer together. This reduces how far the fringe fields 57 radiate away from the active layer 1. This creates an area of exclusion or non- detecting region 55 in which objects will not be detected by the controller 5.

Figure 15c shows a similar concept to Figure 15a, except with the addition of a fringe field guard 59, next to one of the active layers 1. This attracts the electric field from the active layer in the near vicinity, creating an area of exclusion or non-detecting region 55 in which objects will not be detected by the controller 5.

Figure 16 shows one example of a connector or connecting means for use with a proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention, by using an intermediate connector 61 , separated from the active layer 1 by an electrically conductive adhesive 63. The electronic controller 5 is connected to the intermediate connector 61 with wires, which then transmits the electrical signal to the active layer 1 through the electrically conductive adhesive 63. Fastening means comprising fasteners 65 serve to firmly secure the intermediate connector 61 to the active layer 1. Figure 17 shows one realisation of false trigger rejection in a proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention, with the recognition of a double wave 71 but the rejection of a triple wave 73. The electronic controller 5 waits for a pre-defined time period after the second wave before recognising the double-wave gesture 71. This allows the electronic controller to reject the gesture if a third wave is detected after the second.

Figure 18 shows signal strength at various locations (represented by the white dot) near the active layer 1 of a proximity sensing and control system in accordance with the present invention, between the additional electrically conductive layers 45 and/or connecting means 7. Due to the additional conductive layers 45, there is not a significant difference in signal strength (of the proximity event) between events occurring near the connecting means 7 or further away from the connecting means 7

Figure 19 is a perspective view of a connector in accordance with one aspect of the invention; and

Figures 20 to 22 are perspective, plan and sectional side views on a connector in accordance with an aspect of the invention, with some dimensions being shown as examples only.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Definitions

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words "comprise", "comprising" and the like, are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense, that is to say, in the sense of "including, but not limited solely to". "Substrate" or "substrate surface" within the context of this specification is intended to mean the surface to which the system is applied and is intended to include at least: any interior or exterior surface of a building, interior walls; exterior walls; fences; ceilings; furniture, doors, tables, cabinetry including drawers, cupboards; driveways, roads, parking spaces; exterior surfaces of vehicles including: automotive vehicles such as cars, trucks; boats; planes.

As used herein, the term "active layer" is used to mean the layer that is responsible for activity detected by a proximity sensing and control system through an electric and/or magnetic produced by the active layer.

As used herein, the term "electrically inactive layers" is used to mean a layer that has no electrical active property.

The term "coating" as used herein is intended to mean any material that may be applied to the surface of an object and includes coatings such as paint applied in liquid form, and coatings such as wallpaper or films applied in sheet form.

The term "control signal" as used herein is intended to include any signal generated by the proximity sensing and control system in dependence upon the detected disruption to the electric and/or magnetic field of the active layer. Such a control signal can include a monitoring signal; a recording signal; a data or signal transmitting signal, and/or derivatives of the control signal between electrical devices. The control signal may be configured to cause one or more action(s) to be performed external or internal of the proximity sensing and control system. Control signal also includes any combination of the aforementioned.

The term "object" as used herein is intended to mean any object capable of disturbing an electric and/or magnetic field including living bodies such as people and animals and metallic bodies such as vehicles. The term "movement" as used herein is intended to mean movement of an entire object or movement of one or more parts of an object relative to the substrate.

The proximity sensing and control system in some embodiments is configured to detect the presence and/or the absence of an object.

The term "proximity location" is intended to mean the location on the active layer which is the closest point to an object that is in proximity to the active layer. Description

The present invention relates to a proximity sensing and control system including one or more active layers that may be applied to one or more substrates.

The proximity sensing and control system can in some embodiments achieve entire, partial or substantial substrate surface coverage. In order to be active, the active layer has the capability to provide an electric and/or magnetic field after application to a substrate surface sufficient to function as a sensor that is configured, via a suitably connected detector and/or electronic controller, to detect a disruption to the electric and/or magnetic field that is provided by the electrically active layer. Typically an electric current is continuously or non-continuously applied to the active layer. When a body disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer, the disruption changes the electric and/or magnetic field, the controller being configured to detect this disruption or change.

The active layer is configured to have an electrical connection with the electronic controller. A differentiated gesture or movement of an object occurring in the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field. The disruption of the electric and/or magnetic field is interpreted by the electronic controller to execute a command. The active layer may include any active material that has an electrical property sufficient to generate an electric and/or magnetic field that may be disrupted. That is, the active layer must be able to conduct and/or retain some electrical charge such that an electric and/or magnetic field generated by the electrical charge may be disrupted by a person, animal or object.

A key feature of the active layer is that active layer must form a 3-dimensional

interconnected pathway over at least part of the substrate, or over different parts of the substrate. The 3-dimensional interconnected pathway allows for a possible passage of an electrical current through the active layer.

For example, in the case of an active layer where the electrical property of capacitance is detected, all conductive materials are useful to produce a capacitive coating suitable for use as an active layer. Where metals are incorporated into the active layer, stability, particularly to surface oxidation where the metal oxide is non-conductive or of low conductivity, is an important feature in order for the electrical property to be retained for an extended period of time.

Electronics

The active layer is connected to an electronic controller through inductive or capacitive sensing integrated circuits and/or micro control units (MCU) by connecting means. The sensing integrated circuits and/or micro control units are capable of sensing changes in capacitance and/or inductance when the presence, absence or movement of the object, or part of the object, disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer. When changes in capacitance and/or inductance are detected by the integrated circuits and/or micro control units, a control signal being, for example, instructions for controlling a relay or a dimmer circuit, may be generated. Those of skill in the art will readily understand that the system can be applied to other sensing methods and does not need to be limited to capacitive and inductive sensing, provided that the active layer contains the adequate active material to enable a change or disruption to an electric and/or magnetic field to be detected. Disruptions to the electric and/or magnetic field may be caused by specific human or service animal or conductive object interactions that the controller is programmed to recognise and differentiate, such as double waves, triple waves, multiple waves, slow and fast movements, stationary and/or temporarily stationary objects, and different shape movements such as movements along a straight path, or along an arcuate path.

The electronic hardware, namely the active layer and at least a sensor or intermediate/slave controller connected to the active layer, are connected through a connecting means. The connecting means may include a connector such as a physical connecting means which connects the master controller to the active layer, sensor or slave controller, for example over a wired network, or using a physical connection such as silver epoxy, conductive wires, additional electrically conductive layers, a screw plate, physical adhesive, conductive tape.

Alternatively the connecting means may be connected via a remote connection or wireless network that allows for commands to be executed over a wider, remote configuration. Such remote or wireless connecting means could include any combination of transmitters, receivers, transceivers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The connecting means may also further comprise an intermediate connector 81 , an example of which is shown in Figure 19. The intermediate connector 81 comprises a generally U shaped support 83 having a central portion provided with a PCB 85, and laterally projecting arms 87, each configured to from a connection between a respective active layer and a respective controller of the proximity sensing and control system. The intermediate connector 81 is configured to be able to provide an electrical connection between multiple active layers and multiple controllers.

A sandwich arrangement is preferred whereby the intermediate connector is situated between the conductive coating and an overlay. The overlay is held in place by connecting means and provides compressive force to the intermediate connector to assist with maintaining electrical connection to the active layer. Overlays include switchplates and switch covers secured with screw connectors or mouldings such as scotia, architraves and skirting boards secured by one or more of adhesives, plaster, nails or screws. The compressive force may be distributed through a compressible spacer layer, such as a foam layer, which is particularly useful where the overlay presents an uneven surface such as the reverse side of a switchplate. An example of an intermediate connector 91 comprising a PCB 93, a foam layer 95 and an adhesive layer 97 is shown in Figures 20 to 22. Electronic hardware could be configured to be controlled over a wired or wireless network, via computer, mobile phone, or any other connected control device. The electronic hardware, and in particular the controller, could be networked, for example to other devices in a building, so that global commands and system configuration could be carried out. For example multiple proximity sensing and control systems may be provided in separate locations, each having a controller configured to generate control signals, the signals from each controller being transmitted remotely to a central server or controller that is in a different location from one or more of the systems. In one example, the connected systems may comprise a master system, configured to control the other connected slave systems. The system may be configured to recognise particular types of disruption to the electric and or magnetic field produced by the active layer. For example, the electronic controller could be configured, either by predetermined programming, or in a configuration mode used by a user of the system, to recognise specific gestures and to map those specific gestures to specific control outputs/actions. Examples include: a double wave to turn off a relay; double wave and a stationary period to turn on locally connected relays; triple wave to turn off all lights in a building. An integrated circuit (IC) could be used for sensing, that is, for detecting disruptions in the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer, caused by objects being in proximity to the active layer. The sensing IC could be integrated with, or remote from but connected to, the controller.

The controller may include a real-time clock which could be used to control when and at what times an electrical appliance such as lighting for example is turned on and off.

An external switch may be used to override the controller as a fail-safe. For example, a standard light switch could be retained to override the control of lighting by the electronic controller via the active layer.

Capacitive Sensing It is known that a capacitor is comprised of at least two electrical conductors (plates) separated by a dielectric. The capacitor stores energy in the form of an electric field between its plates.

Quantitatively, the capacitance of a capacitor constructed of two parallel plates both of area A separated by a distance d, is given by the following formula:

where

C is the capacitance, in farads;

A is the area of overlap of the two plates, in square meters;

t, is the relative static permittivity (sometimes called the dielectric constant) of the material between the plates

«o is the electric constant and

d is the separation between the plates, in meters;

The active layer and the controller may be configured to detect changes in, or disruption to, the capacitance of the active layer, when a current is applied to the active layer to charge the active layer. In the case of capacitive sensing, the active layer is connected at one or more points or nodes, via connecting means to one or more corresponding nodes on the electronic controller. The electronic controller may optionally also be independently connected to an electrical earth. A system in accordance with this example is shown with reference to Figure 1 A. The electronic controller determines, by suitable control algorithms and hardware, the capacitance of the active layer. For example, the electronic controller may output a constant current into to the active layer. An electrical charge will flow into the active layer resulting in an increasing voltage over time, and voltage can be calculated according to equation (1):

The electronic controller is able to determine the capacitance by measurement of the voltage across the active layer over a fixed time. When an object, such as a human or animal, comes into proximity of the active layer, the capacitance of the active layer will change. The electrical properties of the object (e.g. the object's own inherent resistance, capacitance and inductance), and the dielectric properties (thickness and material) between the aforementioned influence the capacitive change measured by the electronic controller. Any capacitance can be interpreted by the electronic controller to issue a command or control signal.

When the active layer or multiple active layers are configured in a grid pattern as part of a capacitive system, it is preferred that the grid elements are electrically insulated from each other. That is, that there is no material capable of electrical conductivity between the multiple active layers. In some instances some row elements might be connected to other row elements or alternatively, may be connected to other column elements. Some or all of the grid elements can be connected via connecting means to multiple corresponding connecting means to the electronic controller. A system in accordance with this example is shown with reference to Figure 1 B. The electronic controller may also be independently connected to an electrical earth.

The active layer may be configured to act as part of a capacitor, whereby the active layer acts as one of the conductive plates of the capacitor, and whereby the active layer's surroundings (e.g.: ground, floor, walls, ceiling of a building) acts as the other plate of the capacitor. These plates are separated by a distance and by a dielectric material which may comprise primarily of air molecules, or other material. In this configuration, any foreign object existing within the electric field formed between the plates will effectively change the dielectric, which will by extension, disrupt the electric field and ultimately change the measured capacitance, as indicated in the formula above.

The active layer may be configured to act as part of a capacitor, whereby one active layer acts as one of the conductive plates of the capacitor, and whereby another separate active layer acts as the other plate of the capacitor. These plates are separated by a distance and a dielectric material which may comprise primarily of air molecules, or other material. In this configuration, any foreign object existing within the electric field formed between the plates, will effectively change the dielectric, which will by extension, disrupt the electric field and ultimately change the measured capacitance, as indicated in the formula above.

The first active layer may be configured to act as part of a capacitor, whereby one active layer acts as one of the conductive plates of the capacitor, and whereby the active layer's surroundings or another second active layer acts as the other plate of the capacitor. These plates are separated by a distance and by a dielectric material which may comprise primarily of air molecules, or other material. In this configuration, additional independent active layers (driven shield layers) may be applied, on the non-substrate side, to the first active layer. These driven shield active layers may be connected together or connected independently to the Electronic Controller. If these driven shield layers are driven at the same voltage as the first active layer, no electric field will exist between the first and second active layers at the location where the driven shields are present. This by extension, will result in no capacitance being formed at that location between the plates.

These driven shield active layers may intentionally be used to exclude specific regions from between the plates from being able to detect the presence, absence and or movement of an object. The first active layer may also be configured to act as part of a capacitor, whereby one active layer acts as one of the conductive plates of the capacitor, and whereby a second active layer acts as the other plate of the capacitor. These plates are separated by a distance and by a dielectric material which may primarily comprise of air molecules, or other material. In this configuration, an electric field will exist between the plates whenever the plates differ in voltage. Further, whenever the plates are not parallel from one another, the electric field will arc, through the dielectric material, from one plate to the other plate. As the plates are moved further and further apart, the electric field's arc will progressively extend further into space surrounding the plates. This is known as the electric fringe field.

Strategically positioning the plates (active layers) at known distances and known orientations will result in intentional fringe fields, which may be used to specifically detect or to specifically exclude the presence or movement of one or more objects at a given distance. For example, with reference to Figure 15, in the instance where the plates are closely spaced, and the corresponding fringe fields consist of arcs with limited extension into surrounding space, the presence or movement of one or more objects may be detected if the object is sufficiently close enough to disrupt the fringe field but ignored if the object is sufficiently far enough away to disrupt the fringe field.

Similarly, in the instance where the plates are more sparsely spaced, and the corresponding fringe fields consist of arcs that extend far into surrounding space, and where appropriate electric and/or magnetic shielding is utilised, the presence or movement of one or more objects may be ignored if the objects are too close to disrupt the fringe field but detected if the object is sufficiently far enough away to disrupt the fringe field.

Resistive-CapacWve Sensing

In the case of resistive-capacitive sensing, a capacitive active layer may also have resistive properties. The proximity sensor system may be configured as a capacitive-based position sensor by formulating the active layer to have resistive-capacitive electrical properties. Without wishing to be bound by theory, in the case of capacitive-resistive sensing, the active layer may be connected by one or more connecting means to the electronic controller. As seen for capacitive sensing, the electronic controller may be independently connected to an electrical earth. The electronic controller sequentially measures the capacitance of the active layer, at each connecting means.

When an object, such as a human, comes into proximity of the active layer, the electronic controller will measure a change in capacitance. However, due to the series of resistance properties of the active layer, the capacitance changes measured by the electronic controller become correspondingly smaller as the object moves further away from the connecting means. When two or more connecting means are utilised, the electronic controller can determine positional information of an object near the active layer, by comparing differences in capacitance as measured by the electronic controller at each connecting means. This positional information can be used by the electronic controller and used to issue a command.

This may be further expanded to include three or more connecting means to provide greater functionality. For example, with three connecting means that are connected along two perpendicular edges of the active layer, it is possible to obtain positional information in horizontal and vertical axes, resulting in a 2D positional co-ordinate of the object disrupting the electric field. Figure 2 shows an example comprising an active layer 1 and two connectors 7 configured to enable the position of an object in proximity to the active layer to be detected. In this example, for simplicity, the position of the object in only a vertical direction can be detected. In other examples, the position of the object in any other one or more directions can be detected.

Inductive Sensing

The proximity sensor system may also be configured as an inductive sensor by formulating the active layer to have inductive electrical properties. Such a system is shown with reference to Figure 3.

The active layer for the inductive sensor is also connected at one or more connecting means to the electronic controller, via connecting means. The electronic controller may also optionally be independently connected to an electrical earth.

The electronic controller calculates the inductance of the inductive active layer. Without wishing to be bound by theory, the inductive active layer may form part of a resonant resistor inductor capacitor electrical circuit when connected to the electronic controller.

When the electronic controller applies a short voltage pulse to the inductive active layer (typically in the range of from about 0.1 microseconds to about 100 milliseconds), and the voltage is then released, an oscillating 'ringing' voltage will result, in which the voltage decays over time, as a result of the resistance. The frequency of this oscillating voltage is known as the circuit's resonant frequency. The resonant frequency can be measured by the electronic controller and calculated according to equation (2):

Those of skill in the art will realise that the physical layout of the active layer influences the amount of inductance. For example, the active layer may be arranged in a straight line or alternatively may form a spiral pattern or a loop (Figure 3). The length and shape of the active layer may therefore have an effect on the amount of inductance.

It will also be understood by those of skill in the art that as an electrical current flows through the active layer, a magnetic field is created. When a magnetically permeable object (e.g. a metal pen/stylus) is brought into proximity of the active layer, the permeability of the material will cause the inductance to change. This change in inductance can be interpreted by the electronic controller and used to issue a command.

Active Layer

Conductive carbon black pigments may provide convenient and cost effective materials for use in the active layer. Incorporation of pigments into conventional coatings at appropriate levels (exceeding the concentration required to pass the percolation threshold) produce coatings with conductive resistive properties that are easily altered by the type and amount of carbon black added as well as by the state of carbon black dispersion. Typically more than 5 mass % of highly conductive carbon black are required to obtain conductivity in the active layer and more useful conductivity is afforded above 10 or 20 mass %. However, at these levels the mechanical properties of the active layer become compromised and appropriate polymeric binding agents and formulating techniques are required to allow uniform film formation without cracking which leads to reduced conductivity and worst case no conductivity.

With reference to Figures 4 and 5, the active layer (1) may be applied as a coating material or alternatively the active layer may be covered with a coating material in a sandwich or laminate type arrangement. Such coating materials may include paint formulations, lacquers and gels. Proximity detection

The present invention is designed to detect presence, absence, movements and/or intentional gestures (and not false gestures) in an area, volume or space surrounding a substrate surface when an object changes or disrupts the electric and/or magnetic field produced by the active layer applied to the substrate. For the purpose of the present invention, false gestures could be generated by a stationary object; sudden movement of a previously stationary object; continuous movement of an object near the active layer;

electrical noise sources; or random noises.

With additional reference to Figure 17, the present invention may overcome the problem of false gestures by the use of suitable control algorithms in the electronic controller. The control algorithms may be capable of detecting the number of movements near the active layer, and or a pattern of movements, and or or the duration of the disruption, and/or the relative size of the disruption to the electric and/or magnetic field produced the active layer. The control algorithms may therefore differentiate between a single movement or wave of short duration, which might be a false gesture which is not intended to generate a control signal, from a true gesture, which is intended to generate a control signal. The control algorithms do this by dismissing any single gesture below a predetermined time duration, or below a predetermined measure of disruption of the electric and/or magnetic field.

The control algorithms also work with low signal to noise environments, by using techniques such as averaging and other digital signal processing filtering methods, and also work well to filter out noise associated with a slow increase or decrease of offset capacitance such as might occur when a body is moving at the extreme limits of the electric and/or magnetic field or in the instance of when it is important to only sense moving objects, as opposed to stationary objects.

It has been found by the present inventors that two or more gesture events are more likely to remove false gesture events than a single such event. This therefore, provides improved reliability that the disruption of the capacitance is a result of an intentional, true gesture event, rather than false gesture event disruption. True gesture events may incorporate a number of gestures and/or a measure of for how long the gesture event has occurred. This allows for the detection of multiple gesture events and stationary object events as different commands, and allows the control algorithms to provide, and distinguish between, a number of different commands. A control algorithm processes the input data and, as shown in Figure 7, to create edge detection data. An edge detection algorithm compares this to a threshold to set the current state and to one of 3 states: Close Proximity (graph value = 1 ), Far Proximity (graph value = -1), or No Proximity (graph value = 0). Data is then fed into a decision tree along with current time to count the number of proximity events 39. Once no proximity events have been detected for a set time, the final count of proximity events are recorded and a control signal may be generated.

The control algorithm may be able to process, recognise, and generate particular outputs in response to, multiple different gestures. The gestures may differ in the number of movements and/or continuous events, and/or the duration of the movements and continuous events. The controller may be configured such that each gesture generates a corresponding control signal each configured to control a corresponding action such as turning on lights, changing dimming settings, or turning off all lights in a particular area of a building.

The proximity sensing and control system may also incorporate gestures such as a wave event where functionality is similar to a slider used to control domestic electrical appliances. Wave events open up the number of options available as input signals and commands. Wave events could be used to control activities in the home such as dimming lights or other indications. Further, wave events in proximity to the substrate surface may be implemented with a multi-layer system comprising additional electrically conductive layers, having an area that is less than the area of the active layer in the form of strips or channels such as those shown in Figure 9A. One, two or more channels 45 of additional electrically conductive material may be used for this purpose.

In one example, with reference to Figure 9A, the wave event is implemented on a wall with a two layer system having an active layer (such as conductive carbon paint), and additional electrically conductive areas (such as copper paint) in the form of horizontal strips 45, located on the upper and lower edges of the active layers. The capacitance measured at each respective additional conductive strip is inversely proportional to the distance between the additional conductive strip and the proximity location; the difference in measured capacitance at each additional conductive strip allows for calculation of the proximity location. Figure 10 indicates five distinct proximity events; the three in the centre 49 signify proximity events equidistant from the additional electrically conductive layers 45. The first proximity event 47 is closer to one additional electrically conductive layer 45, while the last proximity event 51 is closer to the other additional electrically conductive layer 45. Arrangement of the active layer

The active layer may be applied under and or on top of other layers. Other layers may be selected from primers/sealers, additional electrically active layers, topcoats, and base layers.

It is also possible to have more than one active layer on a substrate surface. When there is more than one active layer, the active layers may be sandwiched between a non-conductive layer. The layers may be arranged in a laminate form, for example, as shown in Figures 4 and 5. Those of skill in the art will realise that the layers may have alternative arrangements to those shown herein.

Where the active layer is used in conjunction with additional electrically conductive layers, the additional electrically conductive layers may be arranged as strips or bands on the periphery of the active layer as shown in Figure 9A. Alternatively, the additional electrically conductive layer may also be arranged in vertical or horizontal series as shown in Figure 9B.

The additional electrically conductive layer may take the form of a horizontal strip derived from a conductive material such as copper paint or similar between the sliding points. A problem of some prior art systems is that low cost conductive paints used for an active layer have high resistance, which also means that they have low conductance. Therefore, the capacitive signal of the active layer is smaller, the further away a proximity event occurs from the controller connection point. The present invention solves the problem by using an additional electrically conductive layer and/or a connecting means. The additional electrically conductive layer and/or a connecting means must have lower resistance and higher conductivity than the active layer. The higher conductivity prevents the signal from dropping off or diminishing in intensity, and may be seen in Figure 18.

It will be appreciated that the above described proximity sensitive system may find application anywhere where proximity to an otherwise passive substrate could be used to control an electrical device or appliance. Such a device or appliance might be a light for example, or might be an alarm, or might be a motor or other electrical actuator used to move a closure such as a door or gate, or a lock, or a relay which is used to connect a circuit to control an electrical appliance. Further, more detailed examples have been provided above. The following provides two non-limiting example compositions for forming an active layer in accordance with the current invention:

General Procedure A:

With mixing, a 20% portion of water was added to 25% of an alkali soluble dispersion followed by 25% of alkali. The mixture was stirred until a clear solution was obtained. With continued mixing, the surfactant, propylene glycol and defoamer were added and the mixture stirred under high shear conditions (e.g. high speed mixer with a cowles blade) while carbon black powder was slowly added in portions. Viscosity was adjusted by portion-wise addition of water until a paste was produced. The paste was further processed to break

agglomerates and produce a fine dispersion. A fine dispersion was achieved by additional processing methods by adjusting the viscosity with a further 50% of the total water and, after transferring the mixture to a round vessel, adding zirconia dispersion beads and subjecting the vessel to rotation by placing the vessel on a roller for several days. After the additional processing, the dispersion beads were removed by filtration and the remaining water, alkali soluble acrylic dispersion, alkali and biocide were added. After thoroughly mixing all components to a homogeneous state the material was ready for use.

General Procedure B:

To the alkali soluble acrylic dispersion was added 50% of the total water, alkali, wetting agent, defoamer and rheology modifier. The mixture was stirred until all rheology modifier had dissolved. Conductive metal powders were added while stirring and after complete wetting of the powders the remaining water and biocide were added. After mixing to a homogeneous state the coating was ready for use.