|1.||An apparatus for providing an audible spoken alert in response to the presence of combustion products comprising: a) means for detecting combustion products and generating a signal indicating that combustion products are present; b) means for sounding an alarm in response to the signal; c) means for selecting a recommendation for action in response to the signal; and d) means for producing an audible verbal statement of the selected recommendation.|
|2.||The apparatus of claim 1 comprising in addition means for sensing temperature disposed near the means for detecting combustion products, the means for sensing temperature producing a hightemperature signal.|
|3.||The apparatus of claim 1 comprising in addition means for sensing temperature disposed remotely from the means for detecting combustion products, the means for sensing temperature producing a hightemperature signal.|
|4.||The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the means for selecting a recommendation for action in response to the signal comprise in addition means for selecting a recommendation for action in response to the signal and to the hightemperature signal.|
|5.||The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the means for selecting a recommendation for action in response to the signal comprise in addition means for selecting a recommendation for action in response to the signal and to the hightemperature signal.|
|6.||The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the means for detecting combustion products comprises an ionization detector.|
|7.||The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the means for detecting combustion products comprises a photoelectric detector.|
|8.||The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the means for detecting combustion products comprises a combination of an ionization detector and a photoelectric detector.|
|9.||An apparatus for connection to a smoke detector to provide a spoken message in response to a signal produced by the smoke detector that indicates an alarm condition, the apparatus comprising: a) means connected to the smoke detector for detecting the presence of the signal indicating the alarm condition; b) means for presetting a desired response to the signal indicating the alarm condition; c) means for storing a plurality of verbal action statements; d) means for selecting an appropriate one of the plurality of verbal action statements in response to the signal indicating the alarm condition and also to a setting of the means for presetting a desired response; and e) means for rendering the selected one of the action statements into audible speech.|
|10.||The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the means for detecting the presence of the signal indicating the alarm condition comprises an electrical connection that is connected to the smoke detector and to a microprocessor.|
|11.||The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the means for detecting the presence of the signal that indicates an alarm condition comprises an acoustical link that produces an electrical signal for the microprocessor.|
|12.||The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the means for presetting a desired response to the signal indicating the alarm condition comprises a plurality of electrical switches that can be set to apply a predetermined combination of voltages as a data input to the microprocessor.|
|13.||The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the means for storing a plurality of verbal action statements comprises a readonly memory (ROM) connected to the microprocessor to store the verbal action statements in digital form.|
|14.||The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the means for selecting an appropriate one of the plurality of action statements comprises a connection between the microprocessor and the ROM to direct the recall of a predetermined message from the ROM in response to an input to the microprocessor of the signal indicating the alarm condition and also the setting of the means for presetting a desired response.|
|15.||The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the means for rendering the selected one of the action statements into audible speech comprises a speech synthesizer connected to the microprocessor to receive from the microprocessor a signal representing a digitally encoded action statement and to convert the digitally encoded statement to an electrical analog signal and a loudspeaker for converting the electrical analog Signal to an audible sound resembling human speech.|
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to smoke detectors. In particular, it is a means of providing a spoken alert to occupants of a structure having detectors of smoke or combustion products and heat. A synthesized voice message directs an occupant to take action appropriate to the conditions detected.
Smoke detectors are divided into two classifications. The first of these is residential smoke detectors, intended for use in single-family homes, townhouses, mobile homes, motel rooms, hotel rooms, or the like. The second is system smoke detectors for large buildings and the common areas of hotels and motels. A system smoke detector is typically subject to central control and has means for alerting a control center. The present invention is adapted to the first of these uses. It is a combination of a residential smoke detector, preferably an ionization detector, with a microprocessor that responds to various inputs from the smoke detector and other sensors such as heat sensors, light sensors, and the like, to select the most appropriate action and response to the inputs and to produce a synthesized voice message that is rendered audible for occupants of the building or living unit. This is in addition to the horn alarm or the like that signals either a smoke condition or a low battery voltage if the detector is powered by a battery.
The smoke detector has become a principal protective element for residents of buildings in recent years. The smoke detector typically includes means responsive to smoke or the ionization products of combustion to generate an alert signal for an occupant of
the building. If the occupant of the building is familiar with escape routes and with procedures for testing the safety of these routes, an audible alert may be all that is needed. However, visitors, children, elderly people, those with impaired vision, or panic-stricken people in a home may not be aware of the best way to escape or may become confused in trying to take proper action. Any of the above groups of people may be unfamiliar with the need to test the temperature of a door handle before opening a door and may be unaware of other safety measures that should be taken in case of a fire. For motels and hotels, visitors are the rule rather than the exception and alternative escape routes may not be obvious to visitors. While a prudent guest of a hotel or motel will check escape routes as a matter of routine, many people will not do this. Even those who have checked for an escape route may not remember the route under stress or may not check to see that it is safe to open the door of a motel room before opening the door. For such people, spoken instructions directing proper action can be lifesaving measures.
One approach to a solution of this problem is given by U.S. Patent 4,531,114, entitled "Intelligent Fire Safety System." This is a complete and comprehensive system detector of the second type described above, for use as part of the extensive system for a large building. The '114 patent includes exit signs with sensors of smoke and heat. Each exit sign has an audible alarm and has a radio transceiver that is connected to produce radio signals in case the unit detects heat or smoke, and to respond to radio signals from other units or from a central unit. Exit signs of this type on different floors of a building are connected together and taken to a central station which provides both monitoring and control. Each of the interface processors of the '114 patent is linked to interface processors on other floors of the building and to the central station by fiber optics. The radio connections
among exit sign units and the linkage from floor to floor by fiber optics make the system more complicated and expensive than is usually feasible for use in residences, mobile homes, recreation vehicles, motel rooms, or hotel rooms.
Another system for providing a speech signal of an alarm is given in U.S. Patent 4,622,539, entitled "Alarm System with Alarm Message Supervision." The '539 patent combines means for generating either speech or tone signals in response to an alarm condition with a supervisory signal that is added to the tone or voice message as a means of monitoring operation of the system. This differs from the ordinary use of supervisory tones that are applied to determine operability of the system and the absence of an alarm. Systems that have provisions for supervision are typically complicated building-wide system detectors in contrast to the residential or motel use that is envisioned for the present invention. Systems that have supervision typically have human operators, and the voice that is applied in such systems is typically either that of the human operator or that of a recorded voice that is selected and directed by the human operator.
In contrast, a system detecting smoke, combustion products, or high temperatures in residences, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, motels, or hotels must work without an operator. Most of the systems of this type now in use provide a steady, audible alarm if the detector senses smoke or combustion products and they provide a periodic chirp to indicate a low battery in the case of a battery-powered unit. The broadcast of verbal signals in addition to the sound of a horn would increase the utility of a smoke detector by telling occupants of a burning house or other enclosure what to do.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of the present invention to provide a smoke detector with speech capability.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a smoke detector that delivers spoken messages from a computer memory in response to detected alarm conditions.
It is a further object of the present invention to select one or more appropriate messages in response to a detected alarm condition and to render the message or messages audible to a person in the area subject to the alarm.
It is a further object of the present invention to permit the message selection to be tailored to a particular location to direct the most appropriate action in case of an alarm.
Other objects will become apparent in the course of a detailed description of the invention.
A detector of smoke, combustion products and high temperature produces both a horn alarm and a spoken alarm. The detector allows the selection of messages appropriate to the location of the detector and the detected condition, to direct an occupant to take the most appropriate action. The detector also makes logical decisions that enable the selection of a message telling the occupant not to leave a room. The detector may provide a spoken message alerting a low battery voltage, and this message may be provided only in a lighted environment or varied in response to the lighting level of the environment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Fig. 1 is a functional block diagram of the smoke detector with speech capability.
Fig. 2 is a detailed circuit diagram of the speech and logic portions of the present invention.
Fig. 3 is a perspective view of the smoke detector of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Fig. 1 is a functional block diagram of an apparatus for the practice of the present invention. In Fig. 1, a sensor 10 is positioned to detect smoke or combustion products. A battery 12 provides power to the sensor 10 and to an alarm generator 14. In the alternative, the sensor 10 and alarm generator 14 could be powered from an ac power line. A test unit 16 is connected to the sensor 10 and the alarm generator 14 to provide means for simulating detected event. The detection of smoke or combustion products by the sensor 10, a signal from the test unit 16, or a low voltage from the battery 12 will cause the alarm generator 14 to sound an alarm on a horn 18. The sensor 10 may be an ionization detector, a photoelectric detector, a heat detector, a detector of a light spectrum associated with flames, or any other appropriate detector that indicates heat, smoke or fire. In the preferred embodiment, the items described were lumped as smoke detector 20, which was an ionization detector described in detail in U.S. Patent applications serial 06/892,668 and 06/893,051 (design) which are assigned to the assignee of the present invention and which are incorporated by reference as if set forth fully here. Those applications disclose a device in which the sensor 10 is a two-chamber ionization detector, having a smoke chamber and a reference chamber. Circuitry in the alarm generator 14 of the '668 application detected the change in electrical conductivity of the reference chamber with respect to electrical conductivity of the smoke chamber. This change is caused by the presence in the smoke chamber of smoke or combustion products. The alarm generator 14 of the reference caused
the horn 18 to sound an alarm in such a case. A low-voltage signal from the battery 12 also caused the alarm generator 14 of the reference to emit a brief chirp at intervals of the order of forty-five seconds.
The smoke detector 20 of Fig. 1 provides an alarm signal on a line 26 that is taken to a microprocessor 28. A control signal on a line 30 is taken to the alarm generator 14 to interrupt sound from the horn 18 during intervals of speech. The smoke detector 20 may supply power to the rest of the circuit on a line 32 or the circuit may be powered by its own battery 34. Either or both may also be powered from an ac power line. In the preferred embodiment, the line 26 represents an alarm signal indicating the detection of smoke, combustion products or other events detected by the sensor 10. The line 26 may also carry signals indicating that voltage of the battery 12 is low. It may indicate that the smoke detector 20 has been desensed or reduced in sensitivity by a silence button as taught by the application serial 06/892,668.
The microprocessor 28 is connected to a programmable read-only memory (PROM) 36 which contains digitized speech representing a plurality of messages to be delivered by the apparatus of Fig. 1. The PROM 36 may also contain all or part of the program necessary to operate the microprocessor 28. A temperature sense 38 is connected to the microprocessor 28 to supply information about a temperature if that information is not produced by the sensor 10. A program in the microprocessor 28 or the PROM 36 or both responds to alarm information on the line 26, the temperature sense information from the temperature sense 38 and information from a message selector 40 to determine the desired words to be used in case of an alarm condition. That message is converted into speech in a speech converter 42 and is broadcast over a speaker 44. Thus, the smoke detector
20 functions like an ordinary smoke detector in providing an audible alarm. The speaker 44 provides a valuble supplement to that alarm by directing the action to be taken in response to the alarm condition.
Fig. 2 is a detailed circuit diagram of a circuit that has been built to provide a spoken alert in response to a detected alarm condition. In Fig. 2, the smoke detector 20 is connected by a line 26 to a latch 50. A temperature sense device 38 is also connected to the latch 50. As is a test switch 52, the temperature sense switch 38 is typically a thermostat, thermocouple, bimetallic switch or the like, and the test switch 52 is a mechanical switch. Each applies a positive voltage representing the corresponding information to the latch 50. A message selector 40 comprises three switches that provide a possibility of eight informational combinations that are taken as inputs to the latch 50. These outputs and others to be described are taken to a diode OR gate 54, the output of which is applied through a transistor 56 to a timer 58. An output from the transistor 56, representing an input to any one of the diodes of the OR gate 54, will set the timer 58 and connect a battery 34 through a pass transistor 60 to supply voltage to the entire circuit on a line 62. The voltage on the line 62 is also taken to a resistor 64 and then to a Zener diode 66 to supply a reference voltage. The reference voltage is compared with a divided amount of the voltage on the line 62 in a comparator 68. This provides a signal indicating low voltage that is taken on a line 70 to the latch 50. The voltage on the line 62 is also applied to a divider consisting of a resistor 72 and a photoresistor 74. The voltage across the photoresistor 74 is compared with the voltage of the Zener diode 66 in a comparator 76 to produce on a line 78 a signal indicating whether the detector is in the light or in darkness. The signal on the line 78 is taken as an input to the microprocessor 28.
The output of the latch 50 is taken to data bus 90 which is connected to the microprocessor 28, the PROM 36, and a speech processor 92. An address bus 94 connects the microprocessor 28, a latch 96, and the PROM 36. A second address bus 98 is connected to the latched output of the latch 96, the PROM 36, a NAND gate 100 and a NAND gate 102. The NAND gate 100 operates a relay 104 that causes a pause in the audible signal from the alarm generator 14, during which pause a spoken statement can be provided. The NAND. gate 102 provides a signal to strobe the latch 50 and the PROM 36. The speech processor 92 produces on a line 106 a speech message that is filtered in a filter 107 and taken to an amplifier 108 then to the speaker 44. The remaining parts of the circuit of Fig. 2 include a voltage converter 110 that develops a negative voltage that is applied both directly and through a variable resistor 112 to the speech processor 92. A control signal from the speech processor 92 is taken through a NAND gate 114 to time operation of the microprocessor 28.
In operation, most of the circuit components of Fig. 2 may be assembled in any conventional fashion. The most probable method is to attach components by way of soldering to a printed-circuit (PC) board that is laid out for the purpose. However, it may be useful to provide a separate socket for the PROM 36, since the PROM 36 may be programmed differently for different message choices. Table I is a list of a useful set of messages that will cover many installations of the speaking smoke detector of the present invention.
TEXT OF MESSAGES IN PROM 36.
3. Leave immediately.
4. Leave by your primary escape route.
5. Leave by your secondary escape route.
6. Do not leave by this door.
7. Roll out of bed.
8. When there is smoke, crawl on the floor.
9. Feel closed doors before you open them.
10. When a door is warm, do not open it. Take another way out.
11. Do not open doors that feel warm.
12. Meet your family outside the house.
13. Stop and drop to the floor.
14. Stay calm.
15. Use the door.
16. Turn left.
17. Turn right.
18. Go straight.
19. Follow the exit signs down the stairs.
20. Hang a towel out the window.
21. Leave by the fire escape.
22. Call the Fire Department.
23. Please change the smoke detector battery.
24. Please change the VocAlert battery.
25. The voice system is working. Test your detector.
26. Hello. I am your VocAlert talking smoke escape system. Please ask for a demonstration.
However, different installations may require different messages, and it may be desirable to have messages that are spoken in languages other than English. Such changes are made most readily by programming a PROM at a central
location and installing it in a socket reserved for the purpose. These are matters of obvious design choice that contribute to the versatility of the talking smoke detector. Table 2 is a list of the circuit elements of Fig. 2.
Fig. 3 is a perspective view of a smoke detector with a spoken alarm that has been built for the practice of the present invention. In Fig. 3, the smoke detector 20 is essentially the detector for which the design is disclosed in the design patent application serial 06/893,051, already incorporated here by reference. The smoke detector 20 includes a sound outlet 120 that delivers an audible alarm produced by the smoke detector 20. A test switch 122 is molded into the housing 124 of the smoke detector 20. A corresponding switch is disposed on the opposite side of the smoke detector 20 to silence or desense the smoke detector 20. A number of openings 126 admit smoke or combustion products to the inside of the smoke detector 20. A removable battery case 128 permits replacement of batteries without the necessity of detaching the smoke detector 20 from its mounting. These and other features are disclosed in the patent applications incorporated here by reference. The smoke detector 20 is connected mechanically and electrically to housing 130 that includes the electronic components shown in Figs. 1 and 2. A light sensor 132 admits light to affect the photoresistors 74 of
INTEGRATED CIRCUITS IN FIG. 2
Fig. 2, and a heat sensor 134 is connected to the temperature sense 36 of Fig. 2. The test switch 52 of Fig. 2 is represented as a deformable cut portion of the housing 130 in Fig. 3. The test switch 52 is pressed into the housing to test operation of the vocal portion of the speaking smoke detector. Openings 136 broadcast speech as programmed and delivered by the circuit of Fig. 2. A battery compartment 138 permits access to batteries for replacement as needed. The housing 124 of the smoke detector and the housing 130 of the speech portion are preferably made of an injection-molded plastic.
The circuits of Figs. 1 and 2 provide the possibility of many ways of operating the speaking smoke detector. A preferred method of selecting instructions is as follows. If the smoke detector detects smoke but the heat sensor is not activated, the audible alarm would sound for a period of time of the order of five seconds or so and then the audible alarm would be silenced during a period when the vocal message instructed a person to leave the room. Previously selected messages would give proper directions, such as turn right, follow the exit signs down the stairs, and the like. The alarm signal would be alternated with either the same or different spoken messages as programmed. If the heat sensor detected a rise in temperature, the microprocessor would call for the person in the room to remain in the room, exit by the window, or the like. The desired messages could be broadcast in one language or in several depending upon the anticipated patronage of a hotel or motel. Other scenarios are available to the user, to be selected so as to provide the most useful set of emergency instructions for a given location.
Table 3 is a Truth Table showing a preferred selection of messages from Table 1 that are selected in response to varous conditions. The conditions are listed here in order of their number in Table 3. Condition 1 is smoke (day) , meaning that a smoke alarm is received on the line 26 and a photoresistor 74 is detecting a high light level. Condition 2 is smoke and heat (day), which is the inputs of Condition 1 and also a signal from the closure of the temperature sense 38. Condition 3 is heat (day) , meaning the photoresistor 74 detects a high light level and the temperature sense 38 is closed. Condition 4 is smoke (night) , meaning an alarm signal on the line 26 and a low light level at the photoresistor 74. Conditions 5 and 6 are analogous to Conditions 2 and 3 with low light levels on the photoresistor
74. Condition 7 is a test condition caused by closing the switch 52 when the battery voltage is within limits and Condition 8 is a test resulting from a low battery voltage on the line 70.
Each of the conditions in Table 3 is modified by the switch 40 of Fig. 2 which permits the selection of eight different inputs to the microprocessor 50. A preferred selection of the eight messages is listed in Table 3. The microprocessor 50 is programmed to select two different sets of messages for each condition and each switch setting, and these selections are tabulated in Table 3. Thus, Condition 1: smoke (day), with the three switches of message select 40 open (indicated as 000) provides spoken messages 1, 1, and 3, followed by 1 and 4. The listeners would hear "Alert," "Alert," "Leave immediately," followed by "Alert," "Leave by your primary escape route." Other messages from Table 1 are selected as indicated in Table 3.
TRUTH TABLE FOR MESSAGES OF TABLE 1
CONDITION C DE
1. SMOKE (DAY)
2. SMOKE + HEAT (DAY)
3. HEAT (DAY)
4. SMOKE (NIGHT)
5. SMOKE + HEAT (NIGHT)
6. HEAT (NIGHT)
8. TEST LOW BATTERY
1. SMOKE (DAY)
2. SMOKE + HEAT (DAY)
3. HEAT (DAY)
4. SMOKE (NIGHT)
5. SMOKE + HEAT (NIGHT)
6. HEAT (NIGHT)
8. TEST LOW BATTERY
S2.3.4 S2.3-4 110 111 1 2 1 2
The description given above of the best mode of practicing this invention is intended to explain its operation and not to limit the scope of protection afforded to the invention. The scope of protection should be limited only by the appended claims.