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Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/248990
Kind Code:
The general scope of this invention is the field of fire-fighting systems understood in a broad sense, and in particular fire-fighting systems in which very high levels of effectiveness are intended to be acieved, and which, therefore, tend to become systems of increasing complexity. This complexity substantially depends on the fact that the ways in which a fire originates can be different and numerous, and it is evident that the timeliness of detection is crucial in triggering effective reaction measures. Fire-fighting systems must therefore be prepared to make use of an increasing quantity of sensors, both in number and in type. In other words, a high-performance fire-fighting system must have a large number of sensors. The evolution of fire-fighting systems, like for of all systems, in general, must necessarily be framed in the wake of the so-called "smart buildings", that is highly computerized buildings, characterized by the presence of a multitude of systems, in which information acquired by each system are exploited to the benefit of the other systems as well. The intuition behind the present invention consists in having overturned the definition of the technical problem underlying the integration of the different systems that characterize the so-called "smart buildings", proposing not to start from the systems and then look for ways to integrate them, but starting from the sensors. The problem of integration was thus formulated by putting it in different terms: i.e. in the definition of a multi-sensor not specifically linked to a particular system or to a particular function, but suitable for collecting a wide variety of information, some of which not typical of the current systems installed in "smart buildings", but certainly useful in order to collect general information on the state of the "smart building", so as to activate any implementation functions of various types and nature, including the management the events related to fires.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
December 01, 2022
Filing Date:
May 19, 2022
Export Citation:
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International Classes:
G08B19/00; G08B29/18
Foreign References:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRUNI, Giovanni (IT)
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1 . A multi-sensor device integrated in a fire-fighting system for “smart buildings” that integrates at least the following components: a) a component for measuring time intervals, b) a component for measuring the temperature, c) a component for measuring air pressure, d) a microphone for the detection of sound waves, e) an ultrasound sensitive microphone, f) an accelerometer, at least three-axial, g) a component for measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, h) a component for measuring the amount of humidity in the air; moreover, said multi-sensor device integrates electronic components that implement computing means, memory means and two-way communication means.

2. Multi-sensor device according to claim 1 , which also integrates a sensor for Particulate Matter (PM) detection.

3. Multi-sensor device according to claim 1 , which also integrates a sensor sensitive to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

4. Multi-sensor device according to claim 1 , which also integrates means for autonomous supply of electric power.

5. Multi-sensor device according to the previous claim also characterized by the fact that said means for autonomous supply of electric power also comprise a capacitor of sufficient capacity to store a quantity of electric energy sufficient for the radio transmission of a signal containing its own identification, in a format that is receivable from another multi-sensor device with the same characteristics at a distance of at least 10 meters.

6. Multi-sensor device according to claim 1 , in which said computing means and said memory means are suitable for executing programs for the processing of the measurements detected.

7. Multi-sensor device according to the preceding claim, in which said calculation means, on the basis of the information produced by said component for measuring time intervals, performs processing which produces an estimate of the time derivative of at least one of the other measurements detected by said multi-sensor device.

8. Multi-sensor device according to claim 1 , wherein said two-way communication means comprise radio transceivers.

useful in order to collect general information on the state of the "smart building", so as to activate any implementation functions of various types and nature, including the management the events related to fires.




Technical Field of the Invention The general field of application of the present invention is the field of fire fighting systems, understood in a broad sense. In fact, with the expression fire fighting systems we mean everything that, in the face of the automatic detection of a fire beginning, or a fire threat, puts into practice interventions aimed at containing, or preventing, the development of the fire itself, as well as warning people of the danger, activating appropriate alarms or highlighting the safest escape routes. Fire fighting systems generally include everything that, in the event that the fire breaks out, puts into practice measures to limit damages or to save the lives of the people involved.

The functions of the so-called fire-fighting systems are therefore multiple, and for this reason these systems must consist of a plurality of subsystems, suitably integrated and, typically, designed on a case-by-case basis.

State of the Art

There are many known fire-fighting systems in the broad sense referred to at the beginning of this description. As regards the detection sensors, the known technique is generally to be considered satisfactory, therefore, for the purposes of the description of the present invention, a first assumption, which is certainly correct to adopt, concerns the availability of sensors capable of detecting the presence of a fire, and also the possible presence of dense and/or toxic fumes inside a closed environment.

A second assumption, also certainly plausible, concerns the presence of a specific fire prevention plan for each environment in which a fire-fighting system is installed. This assumption, in many cases, even constitutes a legal obligation and, in addition to providing a series of instructions that must be carried out in the event of a fire, provides for safe escape routes and emergency exits to be indicated and appropriately marked.

These signals typically consist of luminous or acoustic devices, which attract people's attention and, in the simplest and clearest way possible (we must not forget that in the circumstance of a fire people can be agitated and confused), indicate some instructions that must be followed.

Normally, these instructions can be traced back to the following types: indication of a path to follow to move away from a danger zone, indication of an emergency exit (if it is possible to exit the environment in which the fire is developing), indication of a concentration point where to wait for help (if it is not possible to exit the environment in which the fire is developing), indication of the location of devices useful to extinguish a fire or to open escape routes (for example, indication of the location of fire extinguishers, or hydrants, or hatchets to break down windows).

Without going into the details of the possible signals that can be implemented, what should be emphasized in the context of the present invention is the fact that these signals, whether they are only luminous signs and whether they also include acoustic signals, typically require power supply, and of course it must be a suitably redundant or safe power supply, in the event that the fire could compromise the ordinary power supply systems of the building concerned.

In addition to the detection subsystems, and the signaling or alarm subsystems, mentioned above, which can be considered essential subsystems of any fire-fighting system, fire-fighting systems normally also provide for the presence of other subsystems that come into action when a fire is flaring up, or has flared up, and they carry out actions to combat the fire itself, turn off the low voltage power supply and keep any safety circuits active.

Examples of such fire-fighting subsystems are diffusers of extinguishing substances, with properties suitable for extinguishing flames. These substances are sprayed using nozzles suitably installed in the environments to be protected. The installation of these nozzles is a fairly invasive operation as it must include real hydraulic systems to convey the extinguishing substances to the nozzles that must be activated. Alternatively, to reduce the impact caused by the installation of pipes, it is possible to distribute in the various environments to be protected from the fire a large number of tanks with the substances to be sprayed, in this case each nozzle can be connected to a nearby tank, requiring thus of the shorter pipelines. Furthermore, and in any case, nozzle control typically also presupposes a form of data connection (albeit very simple) between a control unit and each nozzle. In general, excluding the simpler fire-fighting systems, in which the diffusion of extinguishing substances to extinguish the flames can be manually maneuvered using fire extinguishers positioned in various points of the environments to be protected, it is typical that an advanced fire-fighting system also includes a telecommunication subsystem suitable for collecting all data from the various sensors, and designed to activate all the actuation systems, both the alarm and signaling devices, and the devices for the actual implementation of fire containment measures (in general, as said, dispensers of extinguishing substances).

The brief review of the main subsystems that make up a typical fire-fighting system, allows us to immediately highlight an element that is generally neglected, that is the danger caused by fumes: in this regard, it is noted that in the event of a fire, more deaths occur due to intoxication by fumes than by the direct action of fire. Moreover, the very rapid formation and propagation of fumes compromises visibility, making it difficult for people involved in a fire, even if they are well educated, to carry out the operations provided for in the fire prevention plan. In fact, it could be difficult to locate fire extinguishers or tools, possibly available in specific points, to break down windows and create new escape routes.

In GB 2 296 388 B ("Fire smoke safety apparatus", T.D. McCann et al. 16/12/1998 [UK]) the problem of abatement of the fumes that develop during a fire is explicitly addressed, and an interesting solution is proposed. The teachings presented in [GB 2 296 388 B] are based on the use of an ionizing grid to be installed along the ceilings of the escape routes. This ionizing grid loads the surrounding air with negative ions (typically anions) so as to combine with the positive ions contained in the fumes, providing a very clear and rapid effect of abatement of the fumes themselves. The indicated system is certainly effective in theory, but in practice it is too expensive and complex to install, so that, in fact, it is not a solution that has been significantly and widely adopted in practice.

A first picture of the known art highlights how fire-fighting systems are extremely complex systems, which must be designed on a case-by-case basis. After all, they are systems that must adapt to fire prevention plans which, in fact, are real project documents, mandatory for a large number of environments. Moreover, known fire-fighting systems tend to become systems of increasing complexity, as soon as it is desired to guarantee increasingly better levels of effectiveness. This is because the ways in which a fire originates can be different and numerous, and it is evident that the timeliness of detection is crucial in triggering effective reaction measures.

The complexity, then, is not limited only to the problem of timely detection, as also the actuation devices (for example nozzles for the spray of fire-retardant substances, or more or less automatically activated hydrants) are decisive in determining the effectiveness of a fire extinguishing system as a whole, and their effectiveness largely depends on their quantity and their positioning.

The actuation devices must also include the signaling systems that help people perform the most correct behaviors to get to safety, and the alarm systems that bring (or should bring) accurate information to whoever is appointed to take care of the rescue. With reference to the signals to be activated in the event of a fire, many improvements can be made depending on the accuracy and timeliness with which a fire is detected. In fact, having timely and reliable information available, it is possible to activate only the strictly necessary reports, instead of activating indistinct and general alarms which, in many cases, generate the counterproductive effect of spreading panic among people.

Faced with such variety and complexity of cases, the known art proposes many solutions that can certainly offer answers to almost all the questions considered individually. However, there is a practical limit that prevents the use of excessively complex fire-fighting systems. This is because we cannot imagine inserting sensors dedicated to every possible source of fire, nor can we think of installing fire-fighting devices to offer an answer to any possible event.

For example, in the case of the very important need to thin out the fumes along the escape routes, to reduce the toxicity of the air that is breathed by people who try to save themselves, and to preserve sufficient visibility to follow correctly various paths or instructions, some solutions appear too complex and ultimately expensive (see for example [GB 2 296 388 B] previously cited). The practical result is that truly operational fire extinguishing systems that accurately manage the problem of fumes’ thinning are very rare, and the consequence is found in the fact that fume poisoning, and even deaths from intoxication, are statistically one of the most serious effects of fires, which happen in reality.

Finally, the fire-fighting systems according to the known technique appear as fairly static systems, and not very predisposed to updates, while the evolutionary scenarios concerning buildings must be intended in the wake of the so-called "smart buildings", that is buildings that are highly computerized and susceptible to frantic updating, as it is typical of electronic and computer technologies.

Ultimately, the evolutionary path, and consequently the innovation, which must also affect fire-fighting systems, can only be a path that leads to a very strong integration between all the information systems supporting the "smart buildings". All the more so, since the fight for the prevention of fires, for what has just been argued, and especially if you want to pursue the goal of significantly improving performance, must necessarily make use of a great variety of information and means, in order to be truly effective.

In fact, more and more, "smart buildings" will be equipped with numerous IT devices placed on the network, the so-called "smart objects", which make up a crucial part of the infrastructure of any "smart building". And given the growing number of such "smart objects", those already present and those that will gradually be installed in buildings, both in terms of sensors and for actuation functions, it is foreseeable a growth of devices that can be shared by multiple applications.

In this context, however, the known art relating to the field of fire-fighting systems still seems to be not very receptive to this trend; and, therefore, an acceleration in developments is hoped for the integration of the other computer systems that make up the nervous system of a "smart building" into the fire-fighting systems (which today are normally conceived and designed as systems in their own right).

The current practice, which today is still that of developing individual systems dedicated to a homogeneous set of functions, in which each system makes use of its own "smart objects", gives rise to an excess of devices to be installed and a series of rigidity with respect to evolutionary needs that it would be appropriate to support in the more modern buildings.

Much can be done from the control subsystems. In fact, the so-called "smart building", in general, presupposes the presence of a "control server", that is a computer that supervises the various computer and home automation systems of the house. At an IT level, therefore, the first way to achieve possible functional integrations certainly consists in acting through the installation of new programs that can be run on this "control server".

For example, appropriate programs can be developed that interrupt the power supply to certain systems when a fire is about to break out (thus avoiding increasing some causes of greater danger); or these programs can activate auxiliary power systems, which are present in the building and possibly also prepared for other purposes; or again, in the case of buildings with good home automation equipment, programs can be developed which, based on information from fire detection sensors, act through the automatic opening of doors and windows to facilitate the evacuation of the building, or to ventilate the environment.

Other integrations may involve surveillance systems (video surveillance or other access control systems) in the definition of fire prevention plans, so as to take into account the number of people who are in an environment during a fire, and possibly their location. The exploitation of this information can be used in various ways, one of these, for example, concerns the coordination of rescue operations.

Ultimately, regardless of the examples that can be reported here, it can be understood how a first level of integration of the systems that characterize a "smart building" can be implemented at the level of centralized management of all information, which are provided by the many systems present in "smart buildings", at least those in line with future scenarios which are however foreseeable even in the short term.

The next step in this process of integration of intelligent systems concerns the physical systems that make up the sensors. It is now quite clear that the installation of "smart objects" with sensor function is one of the bottlenecks in the actual emergence of scenarios that lead to the widespread diffusion of "smart buildings". In IT102019000020715 (“Wall-mounted box for electrical systems and installation method thereof”, D. De Fecondo [IT]), o in IT102020000019156 (“Structured cabling for intelligent buildings", D. De Fecondo [IT]) there are indicated solutions that facilitate the installation of “smart objects”, in a quick, flexible and minimally invasive way. Flowever, although it is useful to facilitate the installation of new "smart objects", it is always important to provide installations which, once completed, maintain their usefulness and effectiveness over time and for as long as possible. The known art seems to be lacking precisely on this front, as a large number of sensors are proposed, but normally dedicated to individual applications, effectively limiting their usefulness in relation to their actual potential. Furthermore, the proliferation of essential "smart objects", each dedicated to a single function, delegates all the integration burden to the functions performed at the level of a "control server", imposing a considerable complexity in maintaining the "software" installed at central level, which obviously must always be updated with respect to changes made at the peripheral level, i.e., in the network of the "smart objects". Therefore, even if, on the information management front, the systems according to the known art that make up the "smart buildings", including the fire-fighting systems, can theoretically be integrated at the "control server" level, their peripheral parts are still separate; in particular, the various sensors are distinguished, i.e., those devices that collect information on the state of the building.

In fact, the known technique highlights a contradictory situation with regard to fire protection systems: on the one hand, to improve their performance it would be necessary to install a greater number of sensors and actuators, on the other hand, the affirmation of the paradigm of "smart buildings ", while offering solutions aimed at facilitating the installation of "smart objects" (among which the sensors and actuators of fire systems can certainly be included), it suffers from an excessive crowding of these "smart objects", a fact that should be managed by rationalizing their location.

The solution should therefore be sought in the integration of sensor and actuator networks, so as they may become functional for a plurality of purposes. Instead, the known technique continues to propose numerous systems dedicated to single functions, multiplying the quantity of "smart objects" that need to be installed. If on the front of systems linked to comfort, home automation and energy saving, this negative trend begins to be managed, and the market begins to offer some systems that offer some form of integration of the various functions; however, the sector of fire-fighting systems still appears to be a system in its own right. Purpose and summary of the invention

The general purpose of the present invention is therefore to indicate a device suitable for providing sensor functions for a generic fire-fighting system and that, at the same time, detects information suitable to be used also to implement other service applications in the context of "smart buildings" (i.e., buildings with highly computerized environments).

In particular, the device must be able to detect information for the benefit of the systems for the environmental comfort, i.e., they must be able to provide for the control and appropriate adjustments of temperature, humidity and air quality, detecting the presence of the main compounds which, being in the air, compromise its quality (e.g., C02, or other gases or fine particles).

Furthermore, the indicated device should also find application in time and attendance systems, energy consumption optimization and home automation systems in general.

The device must therefore satisfy multi-sensorial requirements, and must be conceived in such a way as to be coherent with the general vision of a "smart building", in which the information detected in real time is exploited synergistically to optimize all the adjustments for which the deep automation is foreseen.

In addition, the device must have features that facilitate its installation in the best positions from a functional point of view; therefore, aspects of compactness and sharing of some components must be taken care of: for example, the power supply and communication means.

It is noted that the aspects of compactness, power supply and communication (so as not to introduce excessive constraints on the installation positioning) are anything but secondary in the considered application area, and they can really make the difference between the success or failure of a solution.

The aims set for this invention are achieved by using a sensor device which integrates at least the following components: a. a component for measuring time intervals (or a clock), b. a component for measuring the temperature, c. a component for measuring air pressure, d. a microphone for the detection of sound waves and, optionally, also an ultrasonic sensitive microphone, e. an accelerometer, at least three-axial, f. a component for measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, g. a component for measuring the amount of humidity in the air; furthermore, said multi-sensor device integrates calculation means and memory means, able to execute calculation programs on the detected measurements, transceiver communication means, and, optionally, autonomous electric power supply means.

In particular, is very recommended the presence of a capacitor, with sufficient capacity to store, albeit at modest voltages, a quantity of electricity sufficient to transmit via radio an end of operation signal, this signal containing its own identification, in a format that can be received by another multi-sensor device with the same characteristics placed at a distance of at least 10 meters. In a typical application context, it can be considered a good practice to install, in the same "smart building", at least two other multi-sensor devices that are at a distance such that it is possible for them to receive, from each other, the aforementioned end of operation signal.

The main advantage of the present invention consists in the fact that its teachings make it possible to offer a first concrete answer to the problem of equipping a building with advanced sensors with respect to the danger of fire, optimizing the invasiveness of the sensor installations, so as to also benefit of concrete synergies with all the other IT systems that characterize "smart buildings". Furthermore, the proposed device is consistent with the evolutionary vision concerning the management of buildings in a holistic sense; therefore, a building is conceived as a system that must be manageable, also through automations, in order to increase its safety, the living comfort it can guarantee, energy performance, healthiness, maintainability, etc ...

Therefore, the invention, in addition to satisfying all the main objectives for which it was conceived, also favors the triggering of a very virtuous evolutionary path, which, at the state of the art, still has bottlenecks that slow down its development.

This invention also has further advantages, which will become more evident from the following description, which illustrates further details of the invention itself through some forms of implementation and from the attached claims, which form an integral part of this description.

Detailed description

The basis of the invention is the intuition that the evolutionary process according to which the buildings of the future will increasingly be "smart buildings", is a process that can no longer develop adequately by continuing to superimpose systems on systems side by side; nor is it possible to entrust all the integration between different systems to centralized processing, operated at the level of a "control server" which acts as a collector of all the information from the various systems installed in the so-called " smart buildings".

It is necessary to set the process of subsequent installations in a different way: passing from vertical applications, in which each macro-function is performed by a specific system (a fire alarm system, an intrusion alarm system, an air conditioning system, a home automation system, and so on) to three large horizontal subsystems: i. a sensor subsystem, which collects the overall information on the state of the "smart building"; ii. a processing and control subsystem, which analyzes all the information that the sensor subsystem provides; iii. and a plurality of actuator systems (these can continue to be specialized on specific functions) which, controlled by the processing and control subsystem, undertake physical actions on the "smart building".

The intuition of thinking of a transversal sensor subsystem, on the one hand, contributes to providing a rational answer to the problem of the uncontrolled proliferation of sensors that would take place in a scenario of flanking numerous vertical systems (still the current practice), on the other hand poses a new technical problem which consists in identifying the most effective information to characterize the state of a "smart building", so that a processing and control subsystem has actually useful data, suitable for controlling the actuator devices of the "smart building". To date, there are a lot of sensors. The market often offers them in the form of devices in their own right, and the applications that use them tend to integrate them, as already observed, in the context of vertical applications, so that the use of the information collected by these sensors is often confined inside proprietary systems, which limit or complicate their analysis by other systems.

In any case, regardless of the problems, not strictly technical (i.e., problems related to industrial strategy issues), concerning the opening of the interfaces of such sensors, a first conclusion can be drawn, which consists in affirming that the technology is already sufficiently it mature to offer an adequate sensory capacity suitable for providing absolutely significant information on the state of a building.

A second observation consists in affirming that some status information is of transversal interest for a plurality of applications, including fire-fighting applications that can be considered among the applications of primary interest in "smart buildings".

The present invention therefore proposes a very precise objective which consists in the search for a set of sensory data that have two characteristics in common:

1 ) they are transversal information for a plurality of applications including, preferably, fire-fighting applications, and

2) they are information that can be acquired substantially in the same point, in order to be significant.

This research is the first step to define a multi-sensor (i.e., a single and compact device that integrates a plurality of sensors) suitable for constituting an essential device for the realization of the sensor subsystem foreseen in the general vision, i.e., a vision which is alternative to the current vision that foresees the development of "smart buildings" through the support of vertical systems, as discussed above. It is clear that the multi-sensor according to the present invention cannot be exhaustive of all the information that defines the state of an "intelligent building", however, the mere fact of combining in a single device a certain number of measurements (of significant value) certainly represents a significant step forward, and represents a concrete advantage because it helps to contain the number of "smart object" installations.

The invention therefore proposes, among other things, to select some components which, if integrated in a multi-sensor, installed in several points, inside an "intelligent building", can generate information of considerable interest, and suitable for being processed at the level of a "control server".

Said "control server", on the basis of the analyzes on this information (possibly integrated with information from other sources), will therefore be able to issue commands to one or more actuator systems or "smart objects", also installed in the same environment, inside an "intelligent building", being able to implement a plurality of applications with considerable effectiveness, including fire-fighting applications.

A first very useful component is a “clock”, that is an electronic circuit that allows measurements of time intervals to be made. The presence of this component, together with the presence of other sensors that detect other quantities, allows to measure not only the punctual value of these other quantities, but also their rate of change, i.e., an estimate of the time derivative of these quantities.

It is clear that rapid changes in some values, such as changes in temperature, can represent very clear indicators of sudden events, such as the flare-up of a fire. Another essential component is a thermometer. As stated above, together with the “clock”, this component allows you to measure both the temperature and its derivative.

A similar argument applies to air pressure; even this datum is easily measurable with an electronic barometer that can be integrated into the multi-sensor according to the invention, and can provide extremely interesting information. For example, explosions generate very intense pressure shocks, and this sensor component is clearly capable of detecting them.

Still in the field of pressure wave detection, it is particularly interesting to detect sound waves and ultrasounds. The frequency analysis of this data can be used in numerous contexts. In addition to the fire-fighting context, which exploits the fact that some typical sounds of fires, both in the audible field and in the ultrasound field, are recognizable and interpretable, the sound analysis can be of great use in the context of presence detection or for applications of security and anti-intrusion. The sound measurements can also be interpreted in the light of other events and in the light of their temporal variations.

A further component that can be easily integrated into a multi-sensor device, even quite compact, is an at least triaxial accelerometer. In fact, although the multi sensor device is designed for its fixed installation, the detection of vibrations affecting the building is certainly very useful. For example, in combination with the detection of sounds, explosions or other events also external to the building can be detected, such as the traffic of heavy vehicles or other events, the knowledge of which could be useful in the analysis, at the level of “control server”.

Another area of detection that must be monitored by the multi-sensor according to the invention concerns a basic air analysis. It is believed that at least the percentage amount of carbon dioxide C02 and humidity should be measured. These two quantities are quite simple to measure, and provide essential information regarding the detection of fires.

However, they are both very useful quantities for carrying out a general analysis of air quality, in order to activate other systems in the comfort sector, for example to act on more or less forced ventilation systems.

The air quality can certainly be monitored also by detecting other substances dispersed in the air, and even such additional measurements are certainly useful for conducting analyzes to be exploited in different contexts, including the fire prevention context.

The issue of air quality is very topical and interesting, for this topic there are many systems designed to be integrated in "smart buildings" that require the use of a wide range of sensors, aimed at monitoring air quality, and with the purpose of controlling forced ventilation systems and air sanitizing devices. It is clear that some of these detections, essential for the operation of such systems, can be advantageously integrated into the device according to the present invention.

Regarding the fundamental parameters that can determine poor air quality, it is noted that a first risk factor is linked to the presence in the air of the so-called human "bioeffluents", i.e., chemical compounds that are emitted by the human body in form of water vapor, carbon dioxide, esters, alcohols, aldehydes, methane, sulfur compounds, fatty acids, etc.: all substances that are theoretically detectable by equipping the multi-sensor according to the invention with suitable specific detection components. A second factor that has an impact on air quality is given by the so-called PM (Particulate Matter), which is a set of solid and liquid particles, also called fine dust, which are suspended in the air.

PM can originate both from natural phenomena (soil erosion processes, forest fires, dispersion of pollen, etc.) and, and mainly, from anthropogenic activities, in particular from combustion processes and vehicular traffic (primary particulate matter).

Also these substances can be detected by suitably equipping the multi-sensor according to the present invention, i.e. integrating a fine dust sensor too, at least as regards some of the substances that make up this particulate. There is also a particulate of secondary origin that is generated in the atmosphere by the reaction of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (S02), ammonia (NH3) and the so-called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), to form sulfates, nitrates and ammonium salts.

The levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) present in the environments of any building can be controlled upstream through a correct and thoughtful choice of building and furniture materials, but above all of the systems and infrastructures serving the building. The scientific community, in addition to the many advices on the choice of the most suitable construction materials and products, recommends paying particular attention to: - adequately ventilate the premises when there are possible sources of

VOCs, during and immediately after the laying of construction materials or the installation of new furnishings (e.g., furniture, carpeting, coverings);

- always keep the rooms well ventilated;

- equip the premises with regularly maintained mechanical ventilation systems. Ultimately, it is necessary to resort to a plurality of precautions, including, of particular importance, to ensure a constant recirculation of air between the internal environment and the external atmosphere (a measure which, by itself, is able to ensure good levels of living comfort), and which can be guaranteed with optimal performance by forced ventilation systems, if well controlled on the basis of reliable indications on the composition of the air.

Therefore, in addition to the carbon dioxide and humidity sensors, considered essential in the multi-sensor according to the invention, in particularly interesting forms of implementation, it is also recommended to integrate other sensors, including VOC sensors, which are very important for applications aimed at controlling of air quality, but certainly very significant also for the analyzes that can be carried out in the field of fire detection.

In addition to the detection components listed above, the multi-sensor according to the invention can obviously integrate other ones. However, even just the essential equipment of the listed sensors, defines a "smart object" of considerable utility, and can be used for almost all the applications of a "smart building".

Without going further on the possible implementation variants linked to the presence of further sensor components, we focus on two other very important aspects of the multi-sensor object of the invention: power supply and connectivity for data transmission.

Evidently, the multi-sensor according to the invention, being in effect a "smart object", is an active device, and as such must be powered; it must also be an object that must communicate, therefore, connected to a telecommunications network. These two aspects, therefore, require that the multi-sensor according to the invention also integrate means of power supply and means of communication, but, above all, these are aspects that have a significant impact on the issue of installation. In fact, the installation difficulty concerns precisely the fact that the power supply must arrive at the installation point, as well as a telecommunications network (the latter presents very different problems depending on whether it is carried out on wired lines or on radio transmissions).

As mentioned in the first part of this description, the prior art proposes a series of solutions that offer a satisfactory solution to the technical problems related to the flexible and rapid installation of "smart objects", and the present invention therefore makes explicit reference to the installation scenario supported by the teachings of IT102019000020715 (“Wall-mounted box for electrical systems and installation method thereof ", D. De Fecondo [IT]), and of IT102020000019156 ("Structured wiring of intelligent buildings", D. De Fecondo [IT] ): these teachings are proposed by the same author of the present patent application.

In particular, the solutions indicated make it possible to guarantee a very robust electrical connection, capable of resisting for a long time even in extreme fire conditions, and therefore, if the multi-sensor according to the invention is installed in the installation contexts indicated above, it can be configured to perform some function even in very critical contexts, such as a fire context.

Flowever, in a preferred form of implementation (also useful in cases of other installation contexts, or in the case of battery-operated installation), the multi-sensor according to the invention, integrates a further technical device aimed at providing one last piece of information even in the event that a destructive event definitively compromises its functioning. In fact, it is very important that before going completely out of service, a multi-sensor communicates this fact. This can be done, and with considerable reliability, if each multi-sensor has a small amount of stored energy with the maximum possible reliability, as can happen in a high-capacity capacitor, and an essential transmitter capable of transmitting its own identification, using the energy stored in that capacitor. This mechanism allows a nearby receiver, integrated into another multi-sensor, to receive the out of service information of a particular multi-sensor. Thanks to this communication, the "control server" can know which multi-sensors are active, at least until the number of those that go out of service becomes excessive, for example if a fire or explosion seriously destroys the building. In any case, by equipping all multi-sensors with a radio transceiver, it is possible to organize a "mesh" type network capable of guaranteeing a connection between the functioning sensors, each other, and with the "control server", and such communication can be supported even in emergency conditions.

In this regard, it is noted that the power supply network that can be guaranteed in emergency situations is quite reliable and capable of withstanding fire for longer than data networks. Therefore, the possibility of activating a "mesh" network in emergency conditions is a further feature of great interest that can be integrated into the multi-sensor according to the invention.

This performance requires the presence, in said multi-sensor according to the invention, of a radio transceiver, which can therefore be indicated as a further element to be integrated in a form of implementation of interest of the present invention. However, this is a performance (i.e., the activation of a "mesh" network) which, for the time being, can realistically be implemented with proprietary telecommunication standards (therefore hardly open standards); however, especially from an evolutionary perspective (for example by using so-called “software radio” technologies), it could become a very powerful performance even in scenarios with the presence of many “multi-vendor” sensors.

Everything illustrated up to now requires the presence of a local control microprocessor. Therefore, the multi-sensor according to the invention must obviously integrate calculation means and memory means. The presence of these means is essential to perform some minimal functions, which are the control of the individual sensor components and the management of the communications. However, the growing computing and memory power that can also be integrated into very miniaturized peripheral devices allows these multi-sensors to be set up to host an operating system and to perform local processing, even of a certain complexity.

In fact, the availability of a fair range of sensors on a single device, allows to perform several analyzes and, above all, allows to activate new detections according to what is already detected, in order to optimize the information to be transmitted at the "control server" level, so that the latter is in a position to quickly activate any actions using the various actuator systems that are under his supervision.

In the context of the present invention, it is not intended to address the problem of the use of the information found by the multi-sensor, as the object of the invention is only to indicate the essential characteristics of an innovative "smart object" which can be used in the evolutionary context of "smart buildings": however, the integration of processing electronics, with significant computing and memory powers (such as to manage an operating system open to the installation of even numerous and complex programs) is highly recommended, as opens up very interesting prospects for distributed processing. In fact, the medium-term vision consists in making "smart buildings" evolve in the wake of artificial intelligence, that is, supporting programs that involve more and more decision-making aspects. It means the implementation of commands generated on the basis of increasingly complex and articulated analyzes and predictive hypotheses, in which an artificial intelligence system can also be programmed to autonomously recognize (by learning) specific state situations. These last considerations indicate a very long evolutionary path (in some ways still uncertain) but with enormous potential, which, however, can be started, right away, with very simple forms of implementation, if there is a transversal sensory subsystem that provides with sufficient wealth of information on the state of a building; and said transverse sensory subsystem has, in the multi-sensor made according to the teachings of the present invention, an essential building block.

Variants and Concluding Remarks

The intuition behind this invention consists in having overturned the definition of the technical problem underlying the integration of the systems that characterize the so-called "smart buildings".

In fact, the known practice plans to start from existing systems, and then to think about their integration. In this case, some systems (unlike other systems, such as home automation systems, for environmental comfort and energy saving), certainly including the fire-fighting systems, have remained substantially isolated from this integration process for various reasons: the fact that they are traditionally designed as separate systems, the fact that they are generally supplied by specialized subjects, the fact that they integrate some technologies that seem to be of exclusive applicability to perform fire-fighting functions. This evolutionary process, implicitly adopted by practice, has produced a series of obstacles to improving the effectiveness of fire-fighting systems, and in particular has, in fact, limited their sensory functions. Fire-fighting systems, in fact, essentially for practical reasons, must rely on a detection subsystem based on an often too limited quantity of sensors, with a negative effect on the timeliness of identifying the beginning of a fire.

The present invention has overturned the problem of system integration by proposing not to start from systems but from sensors, and thus has defined the problem of identifying a multi-sensor not specifically linked to a particular system or to a particular function, but suitable for collect a wide variety of information, some of which not typical of the current systems installed in "smart buildings", but certainly useful in order to collect general information on the overall state of the "smart building", so as to activate any actuation functions of various type and nature, these yes, belonging to distinct systems. In summary, the teachings of the present invention have the purpose of offering a substantially universal multi-sensor, usable for the benefit of all the actuator systems present in an "intelligent building". In this way, being able to use the same "smart object" (as is the multi-sensor according to the invention) for many systems, the practical limit to the number of installations is mitigated, since it is possible to benefit from a greater quantity of sensor points (i.e., points where there is a detection function) serving each system.

The present invention is therefore to be considered a "pioneer" invention since the inventive activity does not manifest itself so much in the development of the invention itself, but rather in having posed the technical problem of integrating multiple systems in a new way that characterize (and will increasingly characterize in the future) the "smart buildings".

In fact, the invention largely benefits from technological progress that offers increasingly miniaturized components; therefore, once the technical problem has been defined, it does not appear difficult to design a multi-sensor such as the one indicated in the teachings of the present invention, since it is possible to integrate a considerable number of components.

Instead, what is certainly the subject of an inventive activity is the identification of a series of sensory functions, some even atypical, which are useful for defining the state of an environment in order to provide important information for a multitude of systems typical of the "smart buildings".

Using multi-sensors made according to the teachings of the invention in a widespread manner, the result is automatically obtained that the various systems of the "smart building" do not have to be integrated, because they are already substantially integrated.

In general, then, the present invention lends itself to numerous variations while maintaining the claimed prerogatives. In fact, it can be developed in different shapes and sizes, and can include different quantities of components in addition to the essential ones, and some of the details described can be replaced by technically equivalent elements. It can also be designed to integrate with different architectures that may be present in the "intelligent building" to transport electricity, or to create the communication infrastructure.

Even the use of specific technologies and materials does not constitute an essential part of this invention, which concentrates its essential teachings in the functional field. Therefore, if in the future the materials sector were to make available new technologies, particularly advantageous that allow the present invention to be implemented efficiently, further improvements could be made without changing the inventive nature and the principles that inspired the invention itself.

Especially in the context of evolutionary scenarios, the invention lends itself to incorporating and supporting further development and improvement efforts, capable of improving the performance of the described system. Therefore, many further developments can be made by the person skilled in the art without thereby departing from the scope of the invention, as it results from this description and the attached claims, which form an integral part of this description; or, if said developments are not included in the present description, they may be the subject of further patent applications associated with the present invention, or dependent on it.