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Title:
SYSTEM, METHOD, AND COMPUTER PROGRAM PRODUCT FOR OPERATING A WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM VIA SONIC COMMUNICATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/216903
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Described are a system, method, and computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The method includes receiving an item identifier of the item to be purchased, a communication including transaction data representative of a transaction being completed, item warehouse location data, and identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node. The method also includes determining an end node positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the item. The method further includes generating an inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device to the end node in the sonic communication network using sonic signals, and causing the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more actions in response.

Inventors:
MALLIK, Rahul (Vijay Sai PG, 48/3 Near Ragam Mega Stores,AECS Layout A Block, Chinnapanahalli, Bangalore 7, 560037, IN)
Application Number:
US2018/032176
Publication Date:
November 14, 2019
Filing Date:
May 11, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
VISA INTERNATIONAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION (P.O. Box 8999, San Francisco, California, 94128, US)
International Classes:
G06Q10/08; G06Q20/32; H04B11/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO1990011572A11990-10-04
Foreign References:
US20160205819A12016-07-14
US20040099735A12004-05-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EHRET, Christian D. et al. (The Webb Law Firm, One Gateway Center420 Ft. Duquesne Blvd., St. 120, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, 15222, US)
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Claims:
THE INVENTION CLAIMED IS

1 . A computer-implemented method for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, the method comprising:

receiving, with at least one processor, an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant;

receiving, with at least one processor, a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item;

determining, with at least one processor and based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network;

determining, with at least one processor and based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item;

generating, with at least one processor, an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals, the inventory update request being encoded and/or encrypted for transmission; and

in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, causing, with at least one processor, the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

2. The method of claim 1 , further comprising communicating, with at least one processor, a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

5. The method of claim 1 , wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

6. The method of claim 1 , wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving the sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

7. The method of claim 6, further comprising:

receiving, with at least one processor, routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and

determining, with at least one processor and based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

8. The method of claim 1 , further comprising, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generating and transmitting, with at least one processor, at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

9. The method of claim 1 , wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

10. The method of claim 1 , further comprising repeatedly communicating, with at least one processor, the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

1 1 . The method of claim 10, further comprising, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generating, with at least one processor, an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

12. A system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, comprising:

a merchant point of sale device for facilitating purchase of at least one item;

at least one warehouse communication node associated with a warehouse of the merchant, configured to transmit and receive sonic signals, and comprising an end node positioned in a section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item;

a warehouse inventory database configured to store identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node and item warehouse location data of the at least one item; and

at least one processor programmed and/or configured to:

receive an item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant; receive a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item;

determine, based on the item identifier, (i) the item warehouse location data from the warehouse inventory database, and (ii) the identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node;

determine, based on the item warehouse location data, the end node of the at least one warehouse communication node;

generate an inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals, the inventory update request being encoded and/or encrypted for transmission; and

in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

15. The system of claim 12, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

16. The system of claim 12, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

17. The system of claim 12, wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to:

receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and

determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

19. The system of claim 12, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

20. The system of claim 12, wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

21 . The system of claim 12, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

22. The system of claim 21 , wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

23. The system of claim 12, wherein the at least one processor is the merchant point of sale device.

24. A computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, the computer program product comprising at least one non-transitory computer- readable medium including program instructions that, when executed by at least one processor, cause the at least one processor to:

receive an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant;

receive a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item;

determine, based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network;

determine, based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item;

generate an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals, the inventory update request being encoded and/or encrypted for transmission; and in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

25. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device.

26. The computer program product of claim 25, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

27. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

28. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

29. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

30. The computer program product of claim 29, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to:

receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and

determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

31 . The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

32. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

33. The computer program product of claim 24, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

34. The computer program product of claim 33, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

Description:
SYSTEM, METHOD, AND COMPUTER PROGRAM PRODUCT FOR OPERATING A WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM VIA SONIC COMMUNICATION

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

[0001] Disclosed embodiments or aspects relate generally to computer-driven centralized warehouse management, and, in one particular embodiment or aspect, to a system, method, and computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. Technical Considerations

[0002] Short-range communication networks can be costly and expensive to implement, especially for many small merchants that have storefront operations substantially adjacent to their own storage/warehouse space. Merchant communication systems, especially when integrated with external networks, may have technical complications related to installation and ongoing management and operation. Many merchants may seek to avoid the shortcomings of checkout and inventory systems having technologies such as: near-field communication (NFC), Bluetooth®, magnetic secure transmission (MST), and/or the like. For example, NFC is an expensive technology and many small-scale merchants may hesitate to invest in NFC hardware or upgrade their point-of-sale (POS) systems with the latest NFC technology in the market, especially as advancements are continually released. Bluetooth® can pose pairing issues, and the communicative“handshaking” process is not always smooth or reliable. MST, like the others, may be vulnerable to security threats, as account data from the magnetic strips can be compromised. Communicative interactions between the consumer and the merchant, and the merchant’s POS device and its own warehouse inventory management systems, require a flexible blend of efficiency, simplicity, and security.

[0003] Therefore, there is a need in the art for an efficient and secure communication system for merchants to facilitate transactions with customers, in addition to communicate with and manage their associated warehouse inventories.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Accordingly, and generally, provided is an improved system, method, and computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. Preferably, provided is a system, method, and computer program product for receiving an item identifier of an item to be purchased, a communication including transaction data representative of a transaction being completed, item warehouse location data, and identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node. Preferably, provided is a system, method, and computer program product for determining an end node positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the item. Preferably, provided is a system, method, and computer program product for generating an inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device to the end node via the sonic communication network using sonic signals, and causing the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more actions in response.

[0005] According to non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provided is a computer- implemented method for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The method includes receiving, with at least one processor, an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant. The method also includes receiving, with at least one processor, a communication including transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant. The transaction includes the at least one item. The method further includes determining, with at least one processor and based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network. The method further includes determining, with at least one processor and based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item. The method further includes communicating, with at least one processor, an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals. The method further includes, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, causing, with at least one processor, the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction including the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

[0006] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the method may include communicating, with at least one processor, a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device. The communication including transaction data representative of the transaction being completed may be a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in an ultrasonic range. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0007] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the end node may be located beyond a range capable of receiving the sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device. The at least one warehouse communication node may include two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node. The method may include receiving, with at least one processor, routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node. The method may also include determining, with at least one processor and based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0008] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the method may include, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generating and transmitting, with at least one processor, at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device. The at least one notification may be representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction. The at least one item may include two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node may include one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals. The method may also include repeatedly communicating, with at least one processor, the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device. The method may further include, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generating, with at least one processor, an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

[0009] According to non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provide is a system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The system includes a merchant point of sale device for facilitating purchase of at least one item. The system also includes at least one warehouse communication node associated with a warehouse of the merchant, configured to transmit and receive sonic signals, and including an end node positioned in a section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item. The system further includes a warehouse inventory database configured to store identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node and item warehouse location data of the at least one item. The system further includes at least one processor programmed and/or configured to receive an item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant. The at least one processor is also programmed and/or configured to receive a communication including transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction including the at least one item. The at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to determine, based on the item identifier, (i) the item warehouse location data from the warehouse inventory database, and (ii) the identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node. The at least one processor is also programmed and/or configured to determine, based on the item warehouse location data, the end node of the at least one warehouse communication node. The at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to communicate an inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals. The at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction including the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

[0010] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the at least one processor may be programmed and/or configured to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device. The communication including transaction data representative of the transaction being completed may be a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in an ultrasonic range. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0011] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the end node may be located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device. The at least one warehouse communication node may include two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node. The at least one processor may be further programmed and/or configured to receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node. The at least one processor may be also programmed and/or configured to determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0012] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the at least one processor may be further programmed and/or configured to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction. The at least one item may include two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node may include one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals. The at least one processor may be further programmed and/or configured to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device. The at least one processor may be further programmed and/or configured to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network. The at least one processor may be the merchant point of sale device.

[0013] According to non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provided is a computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The computer program product includes at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium including program instructions that, when executed by at least one processor, cause the at least one processor to receive an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant. The program instructions also cause the at least one processor to receive a communication including transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction including the at least one item. The program instructions further cause the at least one processor to determine, based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network. The program instructions further cause the at least one processor to determine, based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item. The program instructions further cause the at least one processor to communicate an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals. The program instructions further cause the at least one processor to, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction including the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

[0014] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the program instructions may cause the at least one processor to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device. The communication including transaction data representative of the transaction being completed may be a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in an ultrasonic range. The sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node may have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0015] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the end node may be located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device. The at least one warehouse communication node may include two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node. The program instructions may cause the at least one processor to receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node. The program instructions may also cause the at least one processor to determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0016] In further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the program instructions may cause the at least one processor to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction. The at least one item may include two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node may include one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals. The program instructions may also cause the at least one processor to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device. The program instructions may further cause the at least one processor to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

[0017] Other non-limiting embodiments or aspects of the present invention will be set forth in the following numbered clauses:

[0018] Clause 1 : A computer-implemented method for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, the method comprising: receiving, with at least one processor, an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant; receiving, with at least one processor, a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item; determining, with at least one processor and based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network; determining, with at least one processor and based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; communicating, with at least one processor, an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals; and, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, causing, with at least one processor, the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

[0019] Clause 2: The method of clause 1 , further comprising communicating, with at least one processor, a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device. [0020] Clause 3: The method of clause 1 or 2, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

[0021] Clause 4: The method of any of clauses 1 -3, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

[0022] Clause 5: The method of any of clauses 1 -4, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0023] Clause 6: The method of any of clauses 1 -5, wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving the sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

[0024] Clause 7: The method of any of clauses 1 -6, further comprising: receiving, with at least one processor, routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and determining, with at least one processor and based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0025] Clause 8: The method of any of clauses 1 -7, further comprising, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generating and transmitting, with at least one processor, at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

[0026] Clause 9: The method of any of clauses 1 -8, wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

[0027] Clause 10: The method of any of clauses 1 -9, further comprising repeatedly communicating, with at least one processor, the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

[0028] Clause 1 1 : The method of any of clauses 1 -10, further comprising, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generating, with at least one processor, an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

[0029] Clause 12: A system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, comprising: a merchant point of sale device for facilitating purchase of at least one item; at least one warehouse communication node associated with a warehouse of the merchant, configured to transmit and receive sonic signals, and comprising an end node positioned in a section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; a warehouse inventory database configured to store identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node and item warehouse location data of the at least one item; and at least one processor programmed and/or configured to: receive an item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant; receive a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item; determine, based on the item identifier, (i) the item warehouse location data from the warehouse inventory database, and (ii) the identifying information of the at least one warehouse communication node; determine, based on the item warehouse location data, the end node of the at least one warehouse communication node; communicate an inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals; and, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof. [0030] Clause 13: The system of clause 12, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device.

[0031] Clause 14: The system of clause 12 or 13, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

[0032] Clause 15: The system of any of clauses 12-14, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

[0033] Clause 16: The system of any of clauses 12-15, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0034] Clause 17: The system of any of clauses 12-16, wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

[0035] Clause 18: The system of any of clauses 12-17, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to: receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0036] Clause 19: The system of any of clauses 12-18, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

[0037] Clause 20: The system of any of clauses 12-19, wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

[0038] Clause 21 : The system of any of clauses 12-20, wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

[0039] Clause 22: The system of any of clauses 12-21 , wherein the at least one processor is further programmed and/or configured to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

[0040] Clause 23: The system of any of clauses 12-22, wherein the at least one processor is the merchant point of sale device.

[0041] Clause 24: A computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network, the computer program product comprising at least one non-transitory computer- readable medium including program instructions that, when executed by at least one processor, cause the at least one processor to: receive an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer from the merchant; receive a communication comprising transaction data representative of a transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction comprising the at least one item; determine, based on the item identifier of the at least one item, (i) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and (ii) identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node in the sonic communication network; determine, based on the item warehouse location data, an end node of the at least one warehouse communication node that is positioned in a section of a warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; communicate an inventory update request from a merchant point of sale device to the end node using sonic signals; and, in response to the end node receiving the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device, cause the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more of the following actions: physically remove at least one stored item from the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; physically add at least one stored item to the section of the warehouse corresponding to the at least one item; update the warehouse inventory database to reflect the transaction comprising the at least one item; or any combination thereof.

[0042] Clause 25: The computer program product of clause 24, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to a customer mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer mobile device.

[0043] Clause 26: The computer program product of clause 24 or 25, wherein the communication comprising transaction data representative of the transaction being completed is a sonic signal transmitted from the customer mobile device to the merchant point of sale device.

[0044] Clause 27: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-26, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in an ultrasonic range.

[0045] Clause 28: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-27, wherein the sonic signals communicated in the sonic communication network between the merchant point of sale device and the end node have frequencies in a predetermined audible range corresponding to the category of the at least one item.

[0046] Clause 29: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-28, wherein the end node is located beyond a range capable of receiving sonic signals directly from the merchant point of sale device, and wherein the at least one warehouse communication node comprises two or more nodes configured to relay sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device to the end node.

[0047] Clause 30: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-29, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to: receive routing information of the at least one warehouse communication node; and determine, based on the routing information, a sonic communication route for the inventory update request to be communicated by the sonic signals between the merchant point of sale device and each node of the at least one warehouse communication node.

[0048] Clause 31 : The computer program product of any of clauses 24-30, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to, in response to the end node receiving the sonic signals from the merchant point of sale device, generate and transmit at least one notification to a warehouse personnel communication device, the at least one notification representative of a change in inventory corresponding to the at least one item of the transaction.

[0049] Clause 32: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-31 , wherein the at least one item comprises two or more items, and the at least one warehouse communication node comprises one or more additional end nodes to receive the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device using the sonic signals.

[0050] Clause 33: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-32, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to repeatedly communicate the inventory update request from the merchant point of sale device at predefined intervals, until receiving an acknowledgement of receipt from the end node via sonic signals at the merchant point of sale device.

[0051] Clause 34: The computer program product of any of clauses 24-33, wherein the program instructions further cause the at least one processor to, in response to receiving the acknowledgement of receipt from the end node at the merchant point of sale device, generate an audible feedback signal at the merchant point of sale device representative of successful transmission of information through the sonic communication network.

[0052] These and other features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as the methods of operation and functions of the related elements of structures and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of this specification, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts in the various figures. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. As used in the specification and the claims, the singular form of “a,”“an,” and“the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0053] Additional advantages and details of the invention are explained in greater detail below with reference to the exemplary embodiments that are illustrated in the accompanying schematic figures, in which: [0054] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment or aspect of a system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network;

[0055] FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment or aspect of a system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network;

[0056] FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment or aspect of a system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network; and

[0057] FIG. 4 is a process diagram of one embodiment or aspect of a system for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0058] No aspect, component, element, structure, act, step, function, instruction, and/or the like used herein should be construed as critical or essential unless explicitly described as such. Also, as used herein, the articles“a” and“an” are intended to include one or more items, and may be used interchangeably with“one or more” and “at least one.” Furthermore, as used herein, the term“set” is intended to include one or more items (e.g., related items, unrelated items, a combination of related and unrelated items, and/or the like) and may be used interchangeably with“one or more” or“at least one.” Where only one item is intended, the term“one” or similar language is used. Also, as used herein, the terms“has,”“have,”“having,” or the like are intended to be open-ended terms. Further, the phrase“based on” is intended to mean“based at least in partially on” unless explicitly stated otherwise.

[0059] As used herein, the terms "communication" and "communicate" may refer to the reception, receipt, transmission, transfer, provision, and/or the like, of information (e.g., data, signals, messages, instructions, commands, and/or the like). For one unit (e.g., a device, a system, a component of a device or system, combinations thereof, and/or the like) to be in communication with another unit means that the one unit is able to directly or indirectly receive information from and/or transmit information to the other unit. This may refer to a direct or indirect connection (e.g., a direct communication connection, an indirect communication connection, and/or the like) that is wired and/or wireless in nature. Additionally, two units may be in communication with each other even though the information transmitted may be modified, processed, relayed, and/or routed between the first and second unit. For example, a first unit may be in communication with a second unit even though the first unit passively receives information and does not actively transmit information to the second unit. As another example, a first unit may be in communication with a second unit if at least one intermediary unit (e.g., a third unit located between the first unit and the second unit) processes information received from the first unit and communicates the processed information to the second unit. In some non-limiting embodiments, a message may refer to a network packet (e.g., a data packet, and/or the like) that includes data. It will be appreciated that numerous other arrangements are possible.

[0060] As used herein, the term“transaction service provider” may refer to an entity that receives transaction authorization requests from merchants or other entities and provides guarantees of payment, in some cases through an agreement between the transaction service provider and an issuer institution. For example, a transaction service provider may include a payment network such as Visa® or any other entity that processes transactions. The term“transaction processing system” may refer to one or more computer systems operated by or on behalf of a transaction service provider, such as a transaction processing server executing one or more software applications. A transaction processing server may include one or more processors and, in some non-limiting embodiments, may be operated by or on behalf of a transaction service provider.

[0061] As used herein, the term“issuer institution” may refer to one or more entities, such as a bank, that provide accounts to customers for conducting transactions {e.g., payment transactions), such as initiating credit and/or debit payments. For example, an issuer institution may provide an account identifier, such as a personal account number (PAN), to a customer that uniquely identifies one or more accounts associated with that customer. The account identifier may be embodied on a portable financial device, such as a physical financial instrument, e.g., a payment card, and/or may be electronic and used for electronic payments. The term“issuer system” refers to one or more computer systems operated by or on behalf of an issuer institution, such as a server computer executing one or more software applications. For example, an issuer system may include one or more authorization servers for authorizing a transaction.

[0062] As used herein, the term“merchant” may refer to an individual or entity that provides goods and/or services, or access to goods and/or services, to customers based on a transaction, such as a payment transaction. The term “merchant” or “merchant system” may also refer to one or more computer systems operated by or on behalf of a merchant, such as a server computer executing one or more software applications. A“point-of-sale (POS) system” or“point-of-sale (POS) device” as used herein, may refer to one or more computers and/or peripheral devices used by a merchant to engage in payment transactions with customers, including one or more card readers, near-field communication (NFC) receivers, RFID receivers, and/or other contactless transceivers or receivers, contact-based receivers, payment terminals, computers, servers, input devices, and/or other like devices that can be used to initiate a payment transaction.

[0063] As used herein, the term“mobile device” may refer to one or more portable electronic devices configured to communicate with one or more networks. As an example, a mobile device may include a cellular phone (e.g., a smartphone or standard cellular phone), a portable computer (e.g., a tablet computer, a laptop computer, etc.), a wearable device (e.g., a watch, pair of glasses, lens, clothing, and/or the like), a personal digital assistant (PDA), and/or other like devices. The term“client device,” as used herein, refers to any electronic device that is configured to communicate with one or more servers or remote devices and/or systems. A client device may include a mobile device, a network-enabled appliance (e.g., a network-enabled television, refrigerator, thermostat, and/or the like), a computer, a POS system, and/or any other device or system capable of communicating with a network. A client device may further include a desktop computer, laptop computer, mobile computer (e.g., smartphone), a wearable computer (e.g., a watch, pair of glasses, lens, clothing, and/or the like), a cellular phone, a network-enabled appliance (e.g., a network- enabled television, refrigerator, thermostat, and/or the like), a point of sale (POS) system, and/or any other device, system, and/or software application configured to communicate with a remote device or system.

[0064] As used herein, the terms “electronic wallet” and “electronic wallet application” refer to one or more electronic devices and/or software applications configured to initiate and/or conduct payment transactions. For example, an electronic wallet may include a mobile device executing an electronic wallet application, and may further include server-side software and/or databases for maintaining and providing transaction data to the mobile device. An“electronic wallet provider” may include an entity that provides and/or maintains an electronic wallet for a customer, such as Google Wallet™, Android Pay™, Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay®, and/or other like electronic payment systems. In some non-limiting examples, an issuer bank may be an electronic wallet provider.

[0065] As used herein, the term“financial device” may refer to a portable payment card (e.g., a credit or debit card), a gift card, a smartcard, smart media, a payroll card, a healthcare card, a wrist band, a machine-readable medium containing account information, a keychain device or fob, an RFID transponder, a retailer discount or loyalty card, a mobile device executing an electronic wallet application, a personal digital assistant, a security card, an access card, a wireless terminal, and/or a transponder, as examples. The financial device may include a volatile or a non-volatile memory to store information, such as an account identifier or a name of the account holder. The financial device may store account credentials locally on the device, in digital or non-digital representation, or may facilitate accessing account credentials stored in a medium that is accessible by the financial device in a connected network.

[0066] Non-limiting embodiments or aspects of the present invention are directed to a system, method, and computer program product for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. Prior systems require expensive hardware with cumbersome procedures for securing information transmitted within a network. Using sound waves provides technical advantages over existing short-range communication technology (e.g., NFC, Bluetooth, MST, etc.). Special processors and integrated devices with analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and digital-to-analog (DAG) converters may be used to convert digital data into analog signals. Non-limiting embodiments of the invention improve on prior systems by increasing interoperability in local communication networks and increasing the efficiency of communications by implementing a sonic communication network for a merchant and an associated warehouse. In this arrangement, both the storefront and warehouse have the advantage of shared communication protocols with real-time feedback between each location. Sonic signals can be encoded, encrypted, and modulated, which improves the security of local communications. Moreover, sonic signals can either be configured for generation outside the audible range, in which case they are able to be transmitted without being noticed, or for generation inside the audible range, in which case their audible quality can be chosen to represent meaningful heuristics (e.g., item category, warehouse location, etc.). Furthermore, non-limiting embodiments of the invention leverage comparatively minimalistic hardware components of a sonic communication network, which has nodes (e.g., communicative network computing devices) that can be as minimal as a processor, sonic transducer (e.g., microphone), and sonic transmitter (e.g., speaker). As such, further data and scale efficiencies may be realized.

[0067] In non-limiting embodiments, once a customer is ready to purchase his set of products at the merchant store, he presents his mobile device near the POS terminal. A transmission control protocol (TCP) three-way handshaking process may be initiated at the customer end to ensure a reliable exchange of data. The customer’s mobile device prepares the initial message, including customer identifier information and the customer’s public key digitally signed by a certification authority. The public key need only be transmitted for the first new transaction at the merchant, and thereafter may be stored in the merchant’s local database, and thereafter only the identifier may need to be sent for later purchases made by the customer to initiate the handshaking process. Once the data preparation is complete at the application level, the customer mobile device transfers the data to the merchant in the form of sound waves (i.e., sonic signals). The digital data is encoded, encrypted (with the merchant’s public key, which may be provided to the customer during a customer-side merchant authentication process), and modulated into a sound signal using a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) before transmission.

[0068] In non-limiting embodiments, the merchant POS device receives the sound signal from the customer, demodulates the sound signal using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), decrypts the sound signal using its own private key, decodes the signal using a Huffman algorithm, and processes the customer related information. The merchant POS device prepares the product purchase data (e.g., product SKU information that is loaded into the merchant database through barcode scanning of all the products) and the billing information to be sent to the customer for processing the payment transaction. The merchant-to-customer data may be encoded, encrypted, and modulated to be sent to the customer as a sonic signal.

[0069] In non-limiting embodiments, the data bundle (e.g., product SKU and billing information) is received by the customer mobile device in the form of an analog sonic signal (sound wave). In preferred non-limiting embodiments, the mobile device is equipped with a higher quality microphone to detect the sound wave and process it with an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The ADC converts the analog signal back to the digital format, which was encoded and encrypted. The data bundle is decrypted (e.g., using an elliptical curve cryptography (ECC) algorithm, using the private key that is stored in the customer’s mobile device). The decrypted data bundle may then be decoded using the header and the Huffman tree provided by the Huffman encoding algorithm. Once the data is available as plaintext, the payment may be completed by the customer mobile device by integrating with a user-side payment processing service.

[0070] In non-limiting embodiments, after the customer completes their user-side payment transaction, the customer’s mobile device prepares a payment confirmation message to transfer back to the merchant. The customer mobile device may follow the same process as the above mentioned steps, namely, encoding, encrypting, and modulating the payment confirmation message to be sent back to the merchant via sonic signals. The merchant’s ADC may then convert the sound into the underlying payment confirmation message, and may complete the handshaking process by sending an acknowledgement back to the customer through sound waves.

[0071] In non-limiting embodiments, the customer-to-merchant payment message exchange process may be integrated with a warehouse management system to automate the control and management of the inventory of the warehouse at the merchant store. A typical warehouse consists of various categories of products at different geographical locations within the merchant store and within the warehouse. A data payload which contains the product information may contain a separate field for identifying the computing device (e.g., a communication node) that manages a particular sub-unit in a warehouse. A warehouse inventory, stored in a local merchant database, may include the details of all the merchant’s products, including the GPS coordinates of the products. When products are moved within the inventory, the database may be updated with the latest GPS coordinates of the product, along with the displacement of the coordinates. Based on the current GPS coordinates of a product, the category/section of the product in the warehouse may be identified. The category/section of a product may be identified by relatively measuring the distance between the focal coordinate of a particular section/category of an inventory and the current coordinate of the product. If the coordinates of the product fall within the range of a certain category/section of the warehouse, the product may be associated with that category/section and the database may be updated with the new coordinates along with the category/section. Once the purchase by a customer is complete, the corresponding identity of the computing device (e.g., a MAC address) associated/deployed at the product category/section of the warehouse may be retrieved from the centralized database of the warehouse inventory. The same process may be followed by the sender and the recipient of the sound waves to exchange data.

[0072] With specific reference to FIG. 1 , and in non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provided is a system 100 for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. Depicted is a financial device holder (FDH) 102 (also referred to herein as a “customer” for ease of understanding), who is seeking to complete a financial transaction with a merchant. The customer 102 interacts with the storefront of a merchant by browsing displayed items and selecting one or more items for purchase. The customer 102 may select items for purchase by physically collecting them, e.g., in a shopping cart or basket, or by scanning item identifiers of display items with a mobile device 104. For a merchant storefront setup with display-only items, the customer 102 may receive the equivalent purchased items from an adjacent warehouse upon completion of a checkout process, or may receive the equivalent items by shipment to a customer-designated address. For a storefront setup with customer-removable items for purchase, the merchant may restock the storefront shelves and displays with surplus equivalent items from an adjacent warehouse. In either configuration, the merchant’s inventory may be managed by a centralized management system 122, depicted further in FIG. 2, and item information may be stored in an inventory database 1 10, which may be in communication with the merchant POS device 108. Many configurations are possible.

[0073] With further reference to FIG. 1 , if the customer 102 desires to complete their purchase payment through their mobile device 104, they may first engage with a merchant authentication system 1 16, such as by using a native application on the mobile device, communications with a server of a merchant authentication service, an internet browser, and/or the like. The customer 102 may physically enter the storefront and configure their mobile device 104 by scanning a merchant identifier (e.g., a QR code, a bar code, an RFID tag, etc.), which will allow the customer to verify the merchant through the merchant authentication system 1 16. The merchant authentication system 1 16 may receive merchant identification information (e.g., merchant identifier, merchant name, merchant code) from the mobile device 104, determine the merchant from a database of verified merchants, and generate and transmit a communication back to the mobile device 104 with payment configuration information specific to the merchant. Alternatively, the mobile device 104 and/or merchant authentication system 1 16 may determine a merchant identifier by comparing known merchant locations with a location of the mobile device 104, which may be determined from geolocation hardware/software on the mobile device 104. Alternatively, the customer 102 may manually enter merchant identification information (e.g., store name, store location, store type), and select an authenticated merchant from a list provided by the merchant authentication system 1 16. Alternatively, the customer 102 may receive a merchant identifier via a communication from the merchant POS device 108. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0074] With further reference to FIG. 1 , when the customer 102 is ready to initiate the checkout process, and if the customer physically collected the items for purchased, they may be given to a merchant POS personnel 106 to scan for checkout. The merchant POS device 108 may then compute a total sum due, with any applicable sales tax, and display a total purchase price to the customer 102. If the customer 102 wishes to proceed, the merchant POS device 108 may then communicate item identification information (e.g., SKU data) and billing information to the customer’s mobile device 104 for payment. This interaction between the mobile device 104 and the merchant POS device 108 may be executed by an exchange of sonic signals. For example, the customer may initiate the exchange of data by transmitting a sonic signal containing customer identifier information to the merchant POS device 104. The sonic signal may be received by the merchant POS device 108 through a transducer, e.g., a microphone, and the customer identifier information that is transmitted may be encoded and encrypted. The merchant POS device 108 may authenticate the customer 102 by demodulating the received sonic signal, such as by an analog-to- digital converter, followed by decryption and decoding. After the customer 102 is authenticated, the merchant POS device 108 may respond with the item identification information (e.g., SKU data) and billing information, which may be encoded, encrypted, modulated (using a digital-to-analog converter), and communicated via sonic signal to the mobile device 104. The mobile device 104 receives the sonic signal from the merchant POS device 108, and likewise demodulates, decrypts, and decodes. Having received the item identification information, the customer 102 may complete the checkout process on the mobile device 104 through communication with a transaction processing server 1 12. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0075] With further reference to FIG. 1 , one or more of the above-described checkout steps may be allocated to a mobile device-side interaction, where the customer 102 may use their mobile device 104 to communicate with a remote transaction server (e.g., a vendor service interface) to identify one or more items for purchase, determine the total amount due, provide payment information, and complete the purchase. In an example that requires minimal merchant personnel interaction, the customer 102 may scan item identifiers from displays in the storefront with their mobile device 104, initiate a checkout process with a compiled virtual shopping cart on an application on their mobile device 104, and provide payment information (and optional item delivery parameters, if not taking physical items from the store). The amount of checkout processing by the merchant POS device 108 may vary. If the customer 102 uses their mobile device 104 to at least complete the payment process with a transaction processing server 1 12, the mobile device 104 may communicate a confirmation of transaction completion to the merchant POS device 108, such as through a sonic signal. Alternatively, confirmation may be transmitted by the transaction processing server 1 12 to the merchant POS device 108. Purchase data may be stored by the transaction processing server 1 12 in an associated transaction database 1 14. The merchant POS device 108 may transmit a final acknowledgment communication to the mobile device 104 and thereafter complete the communication exchange. Completion of the checkout process by the customer’s mobile device 104 provides the advantage of the customer 102 maintaining control over potentially sensitive payment information, and it allows for a merchant to operate without its own connection to an external communication network. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0076] With specific reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, and in non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provided is a system 100 for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The system 100 includes a central warehouse management system 122 that may be accessible by one or more merchant POS devices 108 of a merchant. For example, merchant POS devices 108 may be computers at fixed-location checkout counters that are operated by POS personnel 106, or the merchant POS devices 108 may be mobile devices associated with POS personnel 106 who are free to move through the storefront (i.e., a“floating” checkout) and interact with customers 102. Once a payment acknowledgment for a transaction is received by a merchant POS device 108, either from a customer mobile device 104 or from a transaction processing server 1 12, the merchant POS device 108 may communicate with an inventory database 1 10 to determine item warehouse location data, identifying information for warehouse nodes (e.g., location, unit identifier, product category, etc.), routing information for a sonic communication network, and any additional item data, e.g., item count in stock, item description, item cost, item variety, and/or the like. With regard to routing information, the inventory database 1 10 may store a distance table or routing table that consists of distance information between any two or more sonic communication nodes 1 1 Sa i l 8d. A node 1 18a- 1 18d may include at least a processor, a transducer for receiving a sonic signal (e.g., a microphone), and a transmitter for producing a sonic signal (e.g., a speaker). It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0077] With further reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, if the distance between the merchant POS device 108 and a given node 1 18a-1 18d is less than or equal to the range of the sonic signals produced by the POS device 108 (e.g., less than or equal to 17m), the node 1 18a-1 18d may sense the transmitted sonic signal and process the information. For example, upon receiving a communication of a transaction being completed between the customer 102 and the merchant, a merchant POS device 108 may communicate an inventory update request into the sonic communication network, configured to cause the centralized warehouse management system 122 to add an item, remove an item, or update item information. Based on the network information retrieved from the inventory database 1 10, the merchant POS device 108 may identify one or more end nodes 1 18a- 1 18d that are positioned in or associated with sections of the warehouse corresponding to one or more purchased items. When the merchant POS device 108 produces its sonic signal including an inventory update request, if an end node 1 18a-1 18d is within range, it may receive the inventory update request directly. However, if it is out of range of the POS device 108, the sonic signals may be relayed between nodes 1 18a-1 18d until received by the intended end node 1 1 Sa i l ed. One or more warehouse personnel 120a-120d may be nearby or within range of end nodes 1 18a-1 18d and be notified/alerted with the inventory update request. Through direct interaction with the end node 1 18a-1 18d, or through separate communication devices associated with warehouse personnel 120a-120d, they may be directed to remove an item, add an item, or move an item. The end node 1 18a- 1 18d may also cause the centralized warehouse management system 122 to automatically remove an item using automated warehouse equipment/controls, add an item using automated warehouse equipment/controls, or update the warehouse inventory. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0078] With specific reference to FIG. 3, consider a non-limiting example of a customer 102 shopping at a merchant’s housewares store. The customer 102 peruses housewares on display and collects a number of items for purchase. The customer 102, ready to check out, goes to a fixed checkout counter where a POS personnel 106 operating a merchant POS device 108 scans each item. The merchant POS device 108 tabulates a total price. The customer 102 presents their mobile device 104 for payment, which produces a sonic signal containing encrypted customer identification data. The merchant POS device 108 receives the sonic signal, generates item purchase information for the customer, and transmits its own encrypted sonic signal to the mobile device 104. The customer 102 then uses their mobile device 104, connected to an external communication network (e.g., cellular towers), and inputs payment information to complete the transaction via a transaction processing server 1 12. Payment information may already be saved and stored on the mobile device 104 for easy checkout. The transaction processing server 1 12 transmits a confirmation back to the mobile device 104, which generates and transmits a sonic signal to the merchant POS device 108 to verify completion of the transaction. The customer 102 is then free to depart the store with their purchased housewares. However, because items have been removed from the storefront, the merchant POS device 108 communicates with an inventory database 1 10 to determine identifying information of an end node 1 18d in an adjacent warehouse, and may communicate an inventory update request in a sonic communication network. As depicted in FIG. 3, a first node 1 18a relays the request to a second node 1 18b, which relays to a third node 1 18c, which relays to the end node 1 18d. The relay of sonic signals between nodes may occur as a triggered action in response to a node receiving signals, or it may be determined as a sonic communication route by the merchant POS device, based on routing information stored in an inventory database 1 10. At the end node 1 18d, a nearby warehouse personnel 120d receives a notification on their communication device to remove a related item from storage and bring it into the storefront to restock. It will be appreciated that this scenario is a non-limiting example, and many configurations are possible. [0079] With specific reference to FIG. 3, consider another non-limiting example of a customer 102 shopping at a merchant’s clothing store. The merchant has clothing items on display in the storefront for perusal and trying on, but not for collection and removal by customers 102. The customer 102 peruses clothing on display and assembles a list of one or more items for purchase, either on their mobile device 104 (e.g., by scanning tags), or by working with a POS personnel 106 (e.g., a sales associate) who scans item on request. The customer 102, ready to check out, may interact with a POS personnel 106 in a floating checkout scenario, where the customer’s 102 mobile device 104 communicates with a merchant POS device 108 (e.g., a merchant mobile device) without having to go to a physical checkout counter. The merchant POS device 108 or the mobile device 104 tabulates a total price. If tabulated by the merchant POS device 108, the merchant POS device 108 generates item purchase information for the customer and transmits an encrypted sonic signal to the mobile device 104. The customer 102 then uses their mobile device 104, connected to an external communication network (e.g., cellular towers), and inputs payment information to complete the transaction via a transaction processing server 1 12. Payment information may already be saved and stored on the mobile device 104 for easy checkout. The transaction processing server 1 12 transmits a confirmation back to the mobile device 104, which generates and transmits a sonic signal to the merchant POS device 108 to verify completion of the transaction. The customer’s 102 purchased items may then be retrieved from an associated warehouse, or later shipped to a customer-designated address. In either scenario, the merchant POS device 108 may communicate with an inventory database 1 10 to determine identifying information of an end node 1 18d in an adjacent warehouse, and may communicate an inventory update request in a sonic communication network. The relay of sonic signals between nodes may occur as a triggered action in response to a node receiving signals, or it may be determined as a sonic communication route by the merchant POS device, based on routing information stored in an inventory database 1 10. As depicted in FIG. 3, a first node 1 18a relays the request to a second node 1 18b, which relays to a third node 1 18c, which relays to the end node 1 18d. At the end node 1 18d, a nearby warehouse personnel 120d receives a notification on their communication device to remove a related item from storage and either bring it to the customer 102, or prepare the item for shipping. It will be appreciated that this scenario is a non-limiting example, and many configurations are possible. [0080] With specific reference to FIG. 4, and in non-limiting embodiments or aspects, provided is a method 200 for operating a centralized warehouse management system of a merchant via a sonic communication network. The method 200 may be carried out by one or more processors associated with a merchant, such as by merchant POS devices, communication nodes, and/or the like. Although the singular “the” may be used when referring to steps executed by“the processor,” it will be appreciated that more than one processor may be involved in those steps. In step 202, the processor receives an item identifier of at least one item to be purchased by a customer form the merchant. For example, if the customer compiled a list of items for purchase on their mobile device, a merchant POS device may receive the item identifiers via sonic signal from the mobile device. In another example, merchant POS personnel may scan one or more items presented by the customer for purchase. In step 203, the processor may communicate a price and the item identifier of the at least one item to be purchased to the customer’s mobile device for completion of the transaction via the customer’s mobile device. For example, merchant POS personnel may scan all of the items to be purchased and the merchant POS device may calculate a total price and transmit the item purchase information to the mobile device by sonic signal. In step 204, the processor receives a communication including transaction data (e.g., a transaction authorization request confirmation in an electronic payment processing network, a confirmation code/message showing completion of a payment, a total amount paid in the transaction, and/or the like) representative of the transaction being completed between the customer and the merchant, the transaction including the at least one item. For example, if the transaction is completed by receiving payment information from the customer and submitting a transaction authorization request via the merchant POS device to a transaction processing server, the communication including transaction data representative of completion may return from the transaction processing server. In another example, if the transaction is completed by the customer using their mobile device, the communication may be a sonic single transmitted from the mobile device to the merchant POS device. Many configurations are possible.

[0081] With further reference to FIG. 4, in step 206, the processor determines (based on identifiers of the purchased items) item warehouse location data from a warehouse inventory database, and identifying information of at least one warehouse communication node. If purchased items are located in different sections of the warehouse, the identifying information may include more than one end node and/or more than one location in the sonic communication network. At step 208, the processor may determine a sonic communication route, based on routing information stored in an inventory database. The sonic communication route may be a shortest-distance path between warehouse nodes, where sonic signals from the merchant POS device are relayed between one or more nodes until they reach the intended end node. At step 210, the processor communicates an inventory update request from the merchant POS device to one or more end nodes in the sonic communication network, and if determined, via the sonic communication route. At step 21 1 , the processor may generate and transmit a notification to warehouse personnel, which may be a communication to a communication device of the warehouse personnel, related to the inventory update request. The warehouse personnel may then act on the inventory update request if needed. At step 212, the processor causes the centralized warehouse management system to take one or more actions in response to the inventory update request. Responsive actions may include: remove a stored item from a warehouse section (either manually or by automated process), at step 214; add a stored item to a warehouse section (either manually or by automated process), at step 216; and/or update the warehouse inventory database, at step 218. At step 213, the processor may receive an acknowledgement back from the end node that the inventory update request was received and/or acted upon, and feedback may be initiated at the merchant POS device (e.g., auditory feedback, such as a sound alert, visual feedback, such as a text notification, haptic feedback, such as a vibration, etc.). It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0082] With further reference to the foregoing figures, and in further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the nature and frequency of the sonic signals may be customized to the merchant’s storefront and warehouse implementation. For example, to reduce background noises that may be disruptive or annoying to customers/personnel, the sonic signals may be designed to be supersonic (above human auditory range) or subsonic (below human auditory range). In other implementations, it may be advantageous to configure the sonic signals in frequencies capable of human perception, for positive feedback of the communication network operating. Although tones may be encoded, encrypted, and modulated, frequency ranges of transmissions of sonic signals may be separated into distinguishable bands based on purchased item category or stock level. The frequencies may also be configured to represent success of the prior transmission of communications, successful completion of payments, and/or acknowledgements of detection. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0083] With further reference to the foregoing figures, and in further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, it will be appreciated that the sonic signals within the sonic communication network can be configured to avoid failed detections and dropped transmissions. A merchant POS device may transmit an inventory update request at predefined intervals until receiving an acknowledgment of receipt from the end node. For example, the POS device may transmit an inventory update request into a sonic communication network of warehouse nodes, which is directed or relayed to the end node. If the end node receives the request and the centralized warehouse management system reacts as requested, an acknowledgement may be transmitted back through the sonic communication network by sonic signals to the merchant POS device. If the merchant POS device does not receive acknowledgment within a predefined time period (e.g., 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, etc.), the POS device may re-transmit an inventory update request, and the POS device and/or warehouse nodes may increase the volume of the sonic signals in an attempt to improve connectivity. The inventory update request may be repeatedly communicated until an acknowledgement is received. When an acknowledgment is received, the merchant POS device may communicate a feedback signal (e.g., auditory, visual, haptic, etc.) to the customer and/or POS personnel. It will be appreciated that many configurations are possible.

[0084] With further reference to the foregoing figures, and in further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the sonic communication network may be leveraged for the addition of new items to the merchant’s warehouse inventory. When a new product arrives at the merchant store, the warehouse personnel belonging to a specific category of the products may associate the new product with a given communication node of the sonic communication network. Data packets for that product may be redirected to the centralized warehouse management unit via the node indicated by the updated product inventory data, and a new entry may be created in the product inventory database. When purchases are made or locations are updated, the data packet (e.g., sonic signals) may be routed to the centralized warehouse management unit through the specific device (e.g., communication node) at the respective category. [0085] With further reference to the foregoing figures, and in further non-limiting embodiments or aspects, the sonic communication network may be leveraged for the deletion of products from the inventory. When a purchase is made and the product is out of stock, the corresponding node of the product category is identified by the management system, and the data packet is redirected to centralized warehouse management unit for removing the product instance from the database. When a warehouse personnel decides to remove the products from the product stock, the personnel may remove the association of the product with the section node, and the product instance may be removed from the inventory database.

[0086] In non-limiting embodiments, data bundles for sound transmission (e.g., product SKU and billing information) may be algorithmically encoded using state-of- the-art encoding algorithms like Huffman coding. Huffman coding is a lossless compression algorithm which uses prefix codes to encode the data. The prefix code assigned to each character is unique and is in the form of binary digits (i.e., bits). A Huffman coding algorithm uses shorter length codes for the most frequent characters and longer length codes for the least frequent characters. Variable length codes are used for the characters present in the data (e.g., billing information, product information, etc.). Huffman coding offers a higher degree of lossless compression and saves storage space. A Huffman tree is constructed based on the input characters (e.g., using a min-heap based approach), after which the prefix codes are assigned to each node by traversing the Huffman tree. Example steps in Huffman coding include: (1 ) count the frequency of each character in the data to be encoded; (2) store characters as tree nodes and put them into a priority queue {e.g., using a min-heap data structure); (3) build the Huffman tree; (4) create an encoding map; (5) include the encoding map in the header of the compressed data; (6) encode the input data using the Huffman tree and the encoding map. Once the Huffman coding algorithm runs, the stream of bits is ready for encryption.

[0087] In non-limiting embodiments, data bundles for sound transmission (e.g., product SKU and billing information) may be encrypted. Encryption is performed after compression, as the size of the data string is reduced after the compression algorithm runs. Encrypted data directed to a customer may be performed using the public key of the customer. Prevailing research shows that AES-256 keys can be sniffed in seconds using public available software kits. Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) may be used as an alternative choice for a more secure encryption algorithm. ECC is a public key cryptographic technique which can be used to create faster, smaller, and more efficient cryptographic keys. ECC exploits the properties of the elliptic curve equation instead of using the conventional method of finding the product of very large prime numbers. ECC guarantees the same level of security as an RSA algorithm, but with a smaller key size, which helps to reduce the processing power and the battery usage of the computing device. An ECC algorithm is well-suited to the applications described herein, as it may be deployed on mobile devices that have lower thresholds for computing power and battery resource usage. An ECC algorithm may be platform dependent and can be used in conjunction with most public key encryption algorithms like RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and/or the like.

[0088] In non-limiting embodiments, data bundles for sound transmission (e.g., product SKU and billing information) may be converted to an analog signal by a digital- to-analog converter (DAC), which is inbuilt in many common mobile devices, such as smartphones. The sound wave may be analog encrypted using a random background noise encrypted with the public key of the customer, thus providing a second level of security.

[0089] In non-limiting embodiments, sound waves may be susceptible to interference where there are multiple sound waves with different frequencies. To avoid the problem of interference, frequency modulation may be used to deviate the sonic signal frequency either above the normal frequency range or below the normal frequency range. When the audio signal is modulated, the new modulated signal moves up and down in frequency. A DAC may perform frequency modulation for the sound signal which is in turn demodulated by the AD. Frequency modulation is resilient to background noise and frequency interference, which makes it a suitable modulation method for the applications described herein.

[0090] In non-limiting embodiments, sonic signal collision may be avoided by implementing an intelligent bus network topology, particularly at the merchant POS device. To avoid collisions, a hybrid algorithm of carrier sense multiple access - collision detection (CSMA CD) and carrier sense multiple access - collision avoidance (CSMA CA) may be used. In CSMA CD, communication devices detect the collision and transmit after a random time. In CSMA CA, collisions are avoided as each device signals the intent to transmit before initiating the transmission process. A hybrid algorithm may identify whether the data bundle is a connection establishment packet or a data transfer packet. Depending upon the intent of the data transmission, the data transmission is performed. The CSMA CA method can be applied for connection establishment, e.g., for the three-way handshake process associated with payment transaction completion, as it is a critical step and of high priority in the handshaking process. The CSMA CD method can be applied for the data transfer process. Thus, the choice of algorithm may be configured to be dependent on the data bundle used in the data exchange process.

[0091] In non-limiting embodiments, because the interactions described herein occur in a physical environment, there may be human and/or physical object obstructions in the path/direction of transmitted sound. A sound wave may encounter obstruction when one of the two following scenarios happen: (a) when the sound wave travels from its original medium to a new medium of greater density, e.g., a living or a non-living obstacle; or (b) when the sound wave travels through the same medium but different regions of temperature, pressure and density. The sound wave may be absorbed, reflected, or transmitted through the obstacle/medium if one of those situations occur. Middle and higher frequency sound waves are more likely absorbed by obstacles, and lower frequency sound waves are more likely transmitted through obstacles. A solution is to perform frequency modulation, i.e., reduce the frequency of the sound waves that carry the data payload, and design the warehouse in such a way that the dimensions of any known obstacle is almost the same as the wavelength of the sound. The existing solution described above for interference can be reused to avoid the problem of interference when the sound wave hits the obstacle. The elasticity of the materials at the warehouse should be comparatively higher in order to achieve a near perfect solution. Additional communication nodes can be deployed in the warehouse to reduce the error rate involved in the transmission of sound waves.

[0092] In non-limiting embodiments, customer interaction information may be stored, such as customer purchase frequency, purchase history, purchased product information, and/or the like. From the stored data, behavioral patterns may be determined by applying data analysis, and communications may be sent to customers in regular intervals, such as reminders, offers, promotions, and/or the like. Additionally, customers may be clustered based on their purchase patterns and segmented based on shared attributes. This information may be used to foster a more inviting atmosphere at the merchant store based on which customer clusters are present. Moreover, marketers may be able to more efficiently focus their efforts based on the segmented data available, to guide their offer/promotion system, which may increase marketing profits and help collect customer feedback in a more meaningful way. Merchants will also be able to generate offers to the customers directly based on historic customer interaction data.

[0093] Although the invention has been described in detail for the purpose of illustration based on what is currently considered to be the most practical and non limiting embodiments, it is to be understood that such detail is solely for that purpose and that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, but, on the contrary, is intended to cover modifications and equivalent arrangements that are within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For example, it is to be understood that the present invention contemplates that, to the extent possible, one or more features of any embodiment can be combined with one or more features of any other embodiment.