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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR RESCUING AN OVERBOARD PASSENGER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/152659
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A system and method for rescuing an overboard passenger that provides a system for connecting individuals wirelessly to a base location, especially for maritime applications. The method accomplishes this by providing a wearable transmitter that is equipped to send signals to a centralized computer, enabling response to the wearable transmitter being outside of a certain radius or pre-mapped area. The wearable device decreases the time it takes for a maritime vessel to rescue a person who has fallen overboard. Maritime vessels are enabled to receive an alarm as soon as a person falls overboard and becomes out of range of the wireless connection. The system and method are suitable for sailors, fishermen, yachtsmen, passengers, and/or anyone on the sea. In addition, the system can be modified to be used by individuals with memory loss such as Alzheimer's, Dementia, or other medical diseases that require some monitoring over the individuals.

Inventors:
PHYFER ROBERT DANIEL (US)
DOMIGAN LAUREN (NZ)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2020/050622
Publication Date:
July 30, 2020
Filing Date:
January 27, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PHYFER ROBERT DANIEL (US)
DOMIGAN LAUREN (NZ)
International Classes:
B63C9/08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
YU, Hanjen (US)
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Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method comprises the steps of:

(A) providing at least one wearable device;

(B) providing at least one user profile managed by an onboard computing system, wherein the user profile is associated with the wearable device;

(C) pinging the wearable device with the onboard computing system;

(D) relaying a date-and-time entry and a geospatial location entry from the wearable device to the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system;

(E) logging the date-and-time entry and the geospatial location entry into the user profile with the onboard computing system;

(F) outputting an out-of-range alarm for the user profile with the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system; and

(G) executing a plurality of iterations for steps (C) through (F) at a constant interval.

2. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing a current iteration and a plurality of previous iterations, wherein the current iteration and the plurality of previous iterations are from the plurality of iterations for steps (C) through (F), and wherein the wearable device in the current iteration is not in communication range of the onboard computing system, and wherein the wearable device in each previous iteration is in communication range of the onboard computing system;

compiling the date-and-time entry and the geospatial location entry from each previous iteration into a tracking log for the user profile; and

outputting the tracking log for the user profile with the onboard computing system after step (G) of the current iteration.

3. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing the user profile with personal medical information; and outputting the personal medical information with the onboard computing system after step (F), if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system.

4. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system through a wireless connection.

5. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the wearable device is configured to be waterproof.

6. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the wearable device is configured with a wristband.

7. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing the wearable device with a global positioning system (GPS) module; and

generating the geospatial location entry with the GPS module during step (E).

8. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing the wearable device with a reflective sheet, wherein the reflective sheet is initially rolled up within the wearable device; and

deploying the reflective sheet out of the wearable device, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system.

9. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 8 comprises the steps of:

providing the wearable device with an illumination beacon, wherein the illumination beacon is oriented towards a deployment position of the reflective sheet; and

activating the illumination beacon, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system.

10. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing the wearable device with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), wherein a normal range of user motion data is stored on the onboard computing system;

capturing spatial positioning data with the IMU;

relaying the spatial positioning data from the wearable device to the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system;

comparing the spatial positioning data to the normal range of user motion data with the onboard computing system in order to identify at least one user motion outlier from the spatial positioning data; and

alternatively outputting the out-of-range alarm for the user profile with the onboard computing system, if the onboard computing system identifies the user motion outlier.

11. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing a signal strength map stored on the onboard computing system, wherein the signal strength map is centered around the onboard computing system;

providing a previous iteration and a current iteration, wherein the previous iteration and the current iteration are from the plurality of iterations for steps (C) through (F), and wherein the wearable device in the previous iteration is in communication range of the onboard computing system, and wherein the wearable device in the current iteration is not in communication range of the onboard computing system; and

executing step (F) in the current iteration, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system, and if the geospatial location entry of the previous iteration is positioned outside of a false positive radius, wherein the false positive radius is centered around a dead zone in signal strength map.

12. The method of rescuing an overboard passenger, the method as claimed in claim 1 comprises the steps of:

providing at least one third-party emergency contact stored on the onboard computing system; and

sending the out-of-range alarm for the user profile from the onboard computing system to the third-party emergency contact after step (F), if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system.

Description:
System and Method for Rescuing an Overboard Passenger

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a system and method for overboard rescue. More specifically, the present invention relates to a system and method for rescuing an overboard passenger which alerts when users have fallen off a maritime ship and helps locate the fallen users on a body of water.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Maritime operations comprise some of the most dangerous jobs and activities in the world. From fishing to leisure and transportation, many maritime operations involve dangerous situations where people can get hurt or killed on the vessel. In addition, there is always the danger of people falling off the vessels. Many systems and technologies have been provided over the years which aid in the search and rescue of people who have fallen overboard. Most of these systems and technologies provide means to visually locate the fallen people on the body of water. These means often increase the visibility of the people on the body of water, and sometimes also provide audio means to help locate the people on the body of water. Newer technologies have included tracking capabilities to more efficiently locate the fallen people. However, these systems and technologies often lack a method to promptly alert the people on the vessel when someone has fallen overboard. Most of these systems rely on the fallen people to trigger the system to alert the people on board. However, the alarm can often take time to trigger which can result on the fallen people to further separate themselves from the vessels. There is a need for a system and method which instantly alerts people on a maritime vessel whenever someone has fallen overboard.

An objective of the present invention is to provide systems and methods for overboard rescue. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the present invention provides a waterproof wireless-enabled (preferably following IEEE 802.1 lx protocols) wearable device able to send an alarm when the connection to the host is lost. The wearable device of the present invention decreases the time it takes for a maritime vessel to rescue a person who has fallen overboard. The present invention enables maritime vessels to receive an alarm as soon as a person falls overboard and becomes out of range of the preferably IEEE 802.1 lx connection. The present invention is suitable for sailors, fishermen, yachtsmen, passengers, and/or anyone on the sea. In addition, the present invention can be modified to be used by individuals with memory loss such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or other medical diseases that require some monitoring over the individuals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating the system of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating the overall process for the method of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of creating a user location log.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of providing medical information.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of collecting geospatial location data. FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of providing and using a reflective sheet. FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of providing and using an illumination beacon.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of collecting and processing user motion data.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of generating a signal strength map.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustrating the subprocess of contacting third-party emergency contacts.

DETAIFED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION All illustrations of the drawings are for the purpose of describing selected versions of the present invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention.

The present invention is a system and method for rescuing an overboard passenger that provides a system for connecting individuals wirelessly to a base location, especially for maritime applications. The present invention accomplishes this by providing a wearable transceiver that is equipped to send signals to a centralized computer, enabling response to the wearable transmitter being outside of a certain radius or pre-mapped area, as represented in FIG. 1. The system of the present invention includes at least one wearable device (Step A) and at least one user profile managed by an onboard computing system (Step B), wherein the user profile is associated with the wearable device. The at least one wearable device relates to an electronic tool that enables transmission of signals to and from the onboard computing system. In a preferred embodiment, the at least one wearable device utilizes a wristband; however, alternative embodiments exist in which the at least one wearable device utilizes a necklace, ring, cap, or a variety of other connection mechanisms, and the preferred embodiment of a bracelet is not meant to be limiting. The at least one user profile is a set of user information, including, but not limited to, any or all of the user’s name, age, height, weight, contact information, and more. The onboard computing system relates to a module that communicates with the at least one wearable device, stores relevant user information, and displays information as necessary. In this way, the present invention is equipped to manage the location of a user and respond to unauthorized or unexpected user positioning.

The method of the present invention follows an overall process that allows for monitoring of the user’s position while the user is connected to the at least one wearable device. The overall process, as represented in FIG. 2, begins by pinging the wearable device with the onboard computing system (Step C). Thus, the wearable device is in wireless communication with the onboard computing system. A date-and-time entry and a geospatial location entry are relayed from the wearable device to the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system (Step D). By providing this information, the onboard computing system is effectively made aware of the user location at an exact time. Next, the date-and- time entry and the geospatial location entry are logged into the user profile with the onboard computing system (Step E). In this way, the date-and-time entry and the geospatial location entry are associated with the appropriate user account. An out-of- range alarm for the user profile is outputted with the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system (Step F). This out-of-range alarm may take the form of an audible or visual alert, including lights, alert notifications, sirens, speaker noises, and a variety of other such stimuli capable of notifying an administration of the out-of-range status of the user profile.

Finally, a plurality of iterations for Steps C through F is executed at a constant interval (Step G). Therefore, the onboard computing system is equipped to receive periodic notifications that constantly monitor the user’s location at specific times.

During Step G, the present invention is capable of determining the location of the user profile, thus enabling the onboard computing system to respond to the wearable device being positioned at what is determined to be an out-of-bounds location. To determine and react to such a scenario, a current iteration and a plurality of previous iterations are provided, wherein the current iteration and the plurality of previous iterations are from the plurality of iterations for Steps C through F, and wherein the wearable device in the current iteration is not in communication range of the onboard computing system, and wherein the wearable device in each previous iteration is in communication range of the onboard computing system, as represented in FIG. 3. The current iteration reflects a representation of the current status of the user profile. The previous iteration relates to the prior statuses of the user profile before the current status. This arrangement enables the onboard computing system to predict or assist in identifying the user’s current location by comparing the last known location of the user profile to the time in which the current iteration exited the communication range of the onboard computing system. Consequently, the date-and-time entry and the geospatial location entry from each previous iteration compiles into a tracking log for the user profile. The tracking log enables a user of the onboard computing system to navigate through the user profile’s movement history. The tracking log for the user profile is outputted with the onboard computing system after Step G of the current iteration.

Therefore, the user profile can be positionally tracked to identify likely areas in which the user profile may currently be located.

On many occasions, a user profile may require special care based upon the medical history of the user. To achieve this, the user profile is provided with personal medical information, as represented in FIG. 4. The personal medical information may include, but is not limited to, user age, family history, surgery history, allergies, and more. The personal medical information is then outputted with the onboard computing system after Step F, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. This arrangement provides a rescue team or individual with information required to make a safe rescue of a user, who has gone overboard of a ship or vessel, and then to readily be able to medically treat the user.

There are a variety of methods which can be utilized to wirelessly connect the onboard computing system with the wearable device; however, many of these methods are not optimized for the range, power availability, and data transfer potential required for the present invention. To achieve the desired specifications, the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system through a wireless connection. In an exemplary embodiment, the wireless connection relates to a local area network (LAN); however, it is to be understood that a variety of short-range wireless connections exist which enable sufficient transmission of data, and the preferred embodiment of a LAN is not intended to be limiting. In a further exemplary embodiment, the LAN follows IEEE 802.1 lx protocols, thus enabling transmission of required frequencies.

The present invention is particularly adapted for maritime applications and thus often benefits from components that enable utilization in the water. To achieve this, the wearable device is configured to be waterproof. Such design eliminates the potential for the wearable device to become damaged due to a user falling overboard, or due to splashing or poor weather conditions.

A user of the present invention requires easy accessibility and convenience for interacting with the wearable device. To this end, the wearable device is configured with a wristband. The wristband may be any of a variety of materials that enables secure connection around the wrist of a user. The wristband configuration may further utilize a clasp or locking mechanism to secure the wearable device in position, thus ensuring convenient positioning of the wearable device.

The present invention benefits from the ability to track the location of a user in order to best determine appropriate reactions and responses. To achieve this, the wearable device is provided with a global positioning system (GPS) module, as represented in FIG.

5. The GPS module relates to a set of electronic sensors that collect and transmit a series of coordinates that indicate the positioning of the wearable device. The geospatial location entry is generated with the GPS module during Step E. This arrangement ensures that the geospatial information provided by the wearable device is reliable and up-to-date.

A user who has fallen overboard or otherwise gone out of range of the maritime vessel may desire to signal others onboard the maritime vessel from the user’s current position. To achieve this, the wearable device is provided with a reflective sheet, wherein the reflective sheet is initially rolled up within the wearable device, as represented in FIG.

6. The reflective sheet is a preferably flexible surface which reflects incident light. The reflective sheet upon the wearable device enables the user to reflect light back to the maritime vessel without requiring electrical power. The reflective sheet is deployed out of the wearable device, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. Thus, the user may determine if and when to reveal the reflective sheet.

The user may desire further mechanisms for revealing the user’s position. To this end, the wearable device is provided with an illumination beacon, wherein the

illumination beacon is oriented towards a deployment position of the reflective sheet, as represented in FIG. 7. This arrangement enables the wearable device to display the position of a user who is overboard the maritime vessel. Also, the illumination beacon is activated, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. In this way, a user who is unable to control the position or orientation of the wearable device may still receive aid from automatic activation of the illumination beacon in a nighttime situation.

The user may desire a mechanism for communicating with the maritime vessel.

To achieve this, the wearable device is provided with a flashlight, wherein the flashlight includes a manual switch. The flashlight is a toggleable light source that illuminates a given area, while the manual switch is an actuator that toggles the illumination status of the present invention. This arrangement enables the user to reflect light by aiming the reflective sheet. The flashlight is automatically activated, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. In this way, a user does not have to worry about manually indicating the user’s position. The flashlight is deactivated, if the manual switch is actuated into an off position. This arrangement enables the user to adjust settings according to situation severity in order to save electrical power, and further enables the user to send Morse code signals to the maritime vessel.

The present invention may further define an acceptable range upon which a user may travel without setting off an alarm; for example, the onboard space of a maritime vessel. To achieve this, the wearable device is provided with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), wherein a normal range of user motion data is stored on the onboard computing system, as represented in FIG. 8. The IMU is capable of determining normal positioning of users through collection of data points. Next, spatial positioning data is captured with the IMU. This arrangement allows the wearable device to continuously track the spatial positioning of the wearable device and collect raw data for general tracking purposes.

The spatial positioning data is relayed from the wearable device to the onboard computing system, if the wearable device is in communication range of the onboard computing system. The onboard computing system manages spatial positioning data to determine regular positions for users. The spatial positioning data is compared to the normal range of user motion data with the onboard computing system in order to identify at least one user motion outlier from the spatial positioning data. This arrangement enables the onboard computing system to determine whether a user has exited and/or fallen from an expected or normal range or area. Alternatively, the out-of-range alarm for the user profile is outputted with the onboard computing system, if the onboard computing system identifies the user motion outlier. In this way, the onboard computing system is able to automatically assist a user who has fallen overboard.

An active user of the onboard computing system may be aware of, and wish to avoid issues with, areas of weak or nonexistent signals. To achieve this, a signal strength map is provided and stored on the onboard computing system, wherein the signal strength map is centered around the onboard computing system, as represented in FIG. 9. This relationship allows an administrator to interact with and observe the signal strength map. A previous iteration and a current iteration are provided, wherein the previous iteration and the current iteration are from the plurality of iterations for Steps C through F, and wherein the wearable device in the previous iteration is in communication range of the onboard computing system, and wherein the wearable device in the current iteration is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. Such a scenario may potentially indicate to the onboard computing system that the user is outside of an area of strong signal strength. However, such situations do not necessarily indicate that a person has fallen overboard. Step F is executed in the current iteration, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system, and if the geospatial location entry of the previous iteration is positioned outside of a false positive radius, wherein the false positive radius is centered around a dead zone in signal strength map. This arrangement enables the onboard computing system to predict the location of a user who entered a dead zone, without necessarily sending an alarm or alert to the user.

In some scenarios, the wearable device and an administrator of the onboard computing system may be unable to adequately assist a user who has fallen overboard.

To assist the user in such cases, at least one third-party emergency contact is provided and stored on the onboard computing system, as represented in FIG. 10. The third-party emergency contact may include personal contacts or emergency rescue services as preferred by the user. The out-of-range alarm for the user profile is sent from the onboard computing system to the third-party emergency contact after Step F, if the wearable device is not in communication range of the onboard computing system. Such an arrangement enables emergency response to a variety of extremely urgent emergency situations.

Although the invention has been explained in relation to its preferred

embodiment, it is to be understood that many other possible modifications and variations can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.