RFID Life Jacket / PFD Used to Detect Human Presence in Boat Kill Switch Applications invention
Our RFID Life Jacket / RF Reflector Life Jacket Used to Detect Human Presence in Boat Kill Switch Applications invention disclosure below was posted on 29 August 2011. It is one of five related Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) invention disclosures we posted today. We will make no changes to the invention disclosure that begins with text below the horizontal line following this paragraph except to correct misspellings, punctuation, and to update html/computer codes and links. Any updates to the invention will be posted below the horizontal line marking the end of the invention disclosure.
Passive RFID Fob Background Information
Rather than repeat it, we cite the “Passive RFID Fob Background Information” section of our Non-unique RFID Fob / RF Reflector Used to Detect Human Presence and/or Human Proximity and/or Human Location invention disclosure of this same date and include it here by reference.
Detecting the Presence of Humans
Rather than repeat it, we cite the “Detecting the Presence of Humans” section of our Implantable Non-Unique RFID Tag / RFID Chip / RF Reflector Used to Detect Human Presence and/or Human Proximity and/or Human Location Invention disclosure of this same date and include it here by reference.
Purpose of Boat Engine Kill Switch Systems
Boat operators are frequently ejected when the boat strikes a submerged object, hits a rogue wave, hits a large wake, takes a sharp turn, suddenly accelerates, collides with another boat, or suddenly stops. The outboard or stern drive of an unmanned boat often swings to one side due to propeller torque, and the boat begins to circle tightly. This is known as the “Circle of Death”. Stopping the engine before the boat operator is stuck by the propeller, struck by the boat, or drowns is critically important for their personal safety. Stopping the boat quickly can also reduce potential property damages.
Boat operator presence systems are used with a boat operator kill switch (emergency engine cut-off switch) that kills the engine when underway (in gear) if the boat operator falls overboard or leaves the operators station.
If no kill switch system is present on a recently built vessel involved in a “Circle of Death” accident, manufacturers may face legal costs and potentially lose a product liability suit.
Kill switch lanyards are commonly used to detect boat operator presence. The boat operator attaches one end of the lanyard to their life jacket, belt, or other article of clothing. The other end is attached to the kill switch. If the boat operator falls overboard, the lanyard pulls the “key” from the kill switch and the engine is killed if the boat is in gear.
RFID Life Jacket / RF Reflector Life Jacket Used to Detect Human Presence in Boat Kill Switch Applications invention
A life jacket incorporating an RFID tag (or tags) that is capable of being detected to determine boat operator presence. RFID Life Jacket Activated Kill Switches (RFIDLJAKS), or LJAKS for short, effectively combine a virtual lanyard with a life jacket.
LJAKS have two major life saving features:
1. Provide floatation
2. Serve as a virtual lanyard to the kill switch
Lets face it, life jackets and kill switch lanyards both have some hassle factor associated with taking them off and on. The ability to get both life saving features for putting on just one of them one will entice more people to make the right choice. We anticipate lives will be saved because a larger percentage of people will use both safety features (life jackets and kill switches) because:
1. Some people who now use one of the two features (wear a life jacket or wear a lanyard) will add the other feature by wearing a LJAKS.
2. Some people who have been considering adding either feature will now take the plunge and start using both features.
In addition, LJAKS offer:
1. Greater freedom of movement than being tied to a lanyard.
2. Potential for greater range of movement (greater distance from helm) than a lanyard.
Also, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has been discussing the possibility of making the wearing of life jackets mandatory on small recreational boats, they have also been discussing the possibility of making it mandatory to use kill switches on boats less than 26 feet if they are equipped with a kill switch. If either, or both of those rules were to come to pass, an LJAKS would be a good way to obey the rule with minimum hassle and maximum protection (a possible slogan for LJAKS).
The RFID tag (or tags) utilized in the LJAKS may be active, passive, semi-passive, or battery assisted passive (BAP).
Currently, lanyard kill switches, Virtual Lifeline and Cast (by MariTech), and Autotether are among the options to detect a boat operator falling overboard. Lanyard kill switches, also known as emergency engine cut-off switches, are often not worn due to the hassle of hooking them up. Virtual Lifeline, Cast, and Autotether options all require significant financial investment for performance of a single safety function.
LJAKS provide two safety devices for the use of one.
When queried for additional information, the LJAKS RFID tags could all broadcast the same alphanumeric response, such as “HUMAN”.
Having the same serial number AND / OR broadcasting the same alphanumeric response, such as “HUMAN” provides two alternative means of verifying the operator is at the helm.
RFID tags can be incorporated in the the life jacket as:
1. Attached fobs, as fobs contained within a closeable, sealable pouch in the life jacket (sealable by sewing, zipper, snaps, buttons, or other means to retain the fob).
2. Washable RFID tags of the nature of those manufactured by Fujitsu, Linen Technology Tracking, the several manufacturers on Alibaba.com, and others.
3. Sew on patches or adhesive patches (possibly resembling military or scouting patches)
4. Many other ways
RFID tags can also be incorporated into life jackets after the time of manufacture, such as by the retailer or end user. This can be done by using:
1. The life jacket manufacturer providing a pouch or other secure retaining method in which RFID tags could be later added.
2. Sew on or adhesive patches could be used to convert existing life jackets to LJAKS. These patches could be clearly marked with a logo, such as LJAKS.
LJAKS could be designed so RFID tags could be temporarily removed from LJAKS for service, replacement, washing, or drying.
In one embodiment, a passive washable UHF RFID tag is securely built into the life jacket at the time of manufacture. This method works equally well with inflatable or non-inflatable life jackets, Personal Floatation Devices, or life vests.
LJAKS could be plainly marked as incorporating kill switch RFID tags. For example they could bear a name or logo such as LJAKS.
LJAKS life jackets would normally only be worn by the boat operator. They would not be worn in the water when the boat is running (not worn for water skiing, etc.). When the boat engine is off, the boat operator can enter the water wearing them.
The LJAKS RFID tags could be built by several different manufacturers. They would just have to all use the same agreed upon serial number on every single RFID tag and be capable of being read by the same RFID reader.
As an alternative, unique RFID tags (each with their own unique serial number) or non-unique RFID tags (all with the same serial number) could be programed to broadcast the same alphanumeric response, such as the words “HUMAN” or “OPERATOR” when queried for additional information.
LJAKS can be used to determine the presence of the boat operator wearing it to the helm. LJAKS can similarly be used to determine the proximity of the boat operator wearing it to the helm (distance from the helm).
RECCO is well known for producing RECCO reflectors for finding people buried under snow avalanches. RECCO reflectors function similar to RFID tags but do not contain a serial number. RECCO reflector tags are primarily built for sewing onto clothing, attaching to boots or helmets, or embedding in clothing. RECCO tags focus on reflecting as much energy as possible. They do not require a chip to modulate the energy to return their serial number.
A “RECCO like” RF tag could be designed similar to a RECCO reflector, in that the RF tag could be manufactured to reflect the maximum amount of energy, would not have a chip, and would not broadcast a serial number. Without the need to expend energy to modulate the antennae to broadcast a serial number, “RECCO like” RF reflector tags could send back stronger signals allowing detection over greater distances. While “RECCO like” RF reflector would not generate the same magnitude of signal as a RECCO reflector, they would generate a stronger signal than existing passive RFID tags and could be used in all the applications discussed in this invention disclosure.
The antennae of the “RECCO like” RF reflector tag above could be manufactured to send back a few bits of data (Chipless RFID / RF Fibers). Each “RECCO like” reflector tag could broadcast the same few bits of data. For example they could be all 1’s. This would help prevent the “RECCO like” RF reflector tag from being confused with other reflected signals.
The “REECO like” RF reflector tags just discussed could be used in LJAKS as an alternative to RFID tags.
Knowledge of location of the reader on the boat and the design of life jackets allows optimal design of the RFID tag or of the “RECCO like” reflector tag for maximum signal and minimum noise. It also allows optimal placement of the RFID tag(s) or “RECCO like” RF reflector(s) in the life jacket for maximum signal and minimum noise.
It is well known that some RFID tags have difficulties near fluids, metals, and humans (humans are mostly water). These problems can be overcome properly selecting the type of tag, selecting the proper frequencies, positioning the tag(s) on the LJAKS, by the use of multiple RFID tags, by use of multiple antennas to saturate the tag(s), and by proper design and positioning of the reader(s) on the boat.
LJAKS can be easily manufactured in the form of in traditional life jackets, life vests, inflatable life jackets, inflatable belts, personal floatation devices (PFDs), and other forms of floatation devices used by boat operators.
LJAKS can be used with multiple helms on the same boat.
Conventional lanyard kill switch systems can still be optionally used with LJAKS.
A random generated numeric or alphanumeric code could be written to RFID tags in LJAKS by the reader to identify the specific LJAKS that is the operator at this time.
Proper care must be taken in design of LJAKS to assure the system does not interfere with wireless, radio, cell phone, video, television, gps, engine electronics, or other electronic systems on the vessel AND that those systems do not interfere with LJAKS.
We recognize the optimal design for this system is to be reading passive RFID tags up to a few meters in distance in a boating environment. Reading a single passive RFID tag at those distances, considering the freedom of orientation of the operator, in the boating environment can be challenging today. New improved RFID tags and readers are coming out at a frenzied pace. The use of passive tags in this system with minimal false positives is now possible or will be very soon. Until then, semi-passive, battery assisted passive (BAP),or active RFID tags are very capable of getting the job done with relatively long battery life. At the moment, UHF laundry RFID tags look like an excellent approach due to their larger size, greater reading distances, and ease at which they could be built into life jackets. See InvoTech Systems UHF RFID YouTube Demo in the references below as an example of their reading distances.
- Emergency Shut Off Devices. ABYC-A-33. A standard for emergency engine cut-off switches.
- Installation and Use of Engine Cut-Off Switches on Recreational Vessels. United States Coast Guard Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Federal Register. June 8, 2011. Pages 33161-33166.
- Recreational Vessel Propeller Strike and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Casualty Prevention. United States Coast Guard Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Federal Register. August 26, 2011. Pages 53364-53369.
- U.S. Patent 6,450,845 Passive Occupant Sensing System for a Watercraft. Richard Snyder assigned to Brunswick. Infrared sensor used to detect boat operator presence in conjunction with a kill switch system.
- U.S. Patent 7,081,028 Portable Control Device Used as a Security and Safety Component of a Marine Propulsion System. John Crane assigned to Brunswick. Portable remote control allows starting the engine and functions as an operator presence system in conjunction with a kill switch system.
- U.S. Patent 7,083,482 Marine Engine Stopping Device invented by Keith Jackson and Harry Bouge of MariTech. A Virtual lifeline / CAST patent.
- U.S. Patent 7,109,851 Presence and Recognition System. Assigned to Teleflex. RFID tag is used for RKE (Remote Keyless Entry function) and as a vehicle kill switch. They teach of a circuit checking about every .2 seconds for its presence to conserve battery power. The tag is attached to a lanyard. The tag is physically slipped onto the kill switch and the other end of the lanyard is attached similarly to conventional lanyard kill switches.
- U.S. Patent 7,201,619 Safety Shut-Off System for a Powered Vehicle. Assigned to Autotether. One of several Autotether patents including U.S. Patent 7,448,925 and U.S. Patent 7,553,205.
- U.S. Patent 7,355,518 Cordless Lanyard System Using E-Field. Richard Staerzl assigned to Brunswick. Electronic field system placed under the operator’s seat detects changes in the electronic field between the seat and the helm to detect operator presence in conjunction with a kill switch system.
- U.S. Patent 7,589,636 Methods and Systems for Automated Safety Device Inspection Using Radio Frequency Inspection. Assigned to Boeing Corporation. RFID reader counts RFID life vests stored in the correct place on a plane. A companion Boeing patent, U.S. Patent 7,598,868 covers a similar system.
- U.S. Patent 7,854,639 Floatation Assembly With Monitoring Device. RFID tag affixed to airline life jackets / floatation assemblies stored below passenger seats. Purpose of RFID tag is to quickly associate the specific life jacket with its database record containing specifications, inspection information, service history, and additional information AND to allow a quick inventory of floatation devices onboard. The RFID tag is essentially acting as a virtual barcode for interfacing additional information.
- U.S. Patent Application US 2007/0232164 Tamper-Evident Live Vest Package. Assigned to 3M. Frangible RFID tag breaks if people tamper with airplane life vests. That vest will no longer be counted by the RFID life vest counting system.
- U.S. Patent Application US 2008/0108261 Human Floatation Device Configured for Radio Frequency Identification. Assigned to 3M. RFID system to count life jackets on airplanes.
- U.S. Patent Application US 2011/0068916 Life Saving System With RFID Tag Having IP Communications Function. The RFID tags on one or more life jackets are communicating with a local smart point (such as a waterproof buoy) reads the tags in its region that are in distress and communicates their status with another location. Use of multiple smart points allows estimation of position of the people in distress.
- WO 2008/074971 Marine Safety System. Applied for by Vision Engineering Ltd. of the U.K. System of transmitters is used to identify the number of people wearing them onboard and respond if one goes overboard by pulling out the “kill-switch”, sounding an alarm, or other actions. The system is fairly similar in operation to the Autotether system. The text of the patent does mention the possibility of using passive RFID tags but does not develop their use nor does it focus only on the operator’s station. The patent does not mention integrating RFID tags with life jackets / PFDs for use with kill switches.
- RFID Proximity Kill Switch. Half Baked Bakery. auto de. August 14, 2006.
- New Washable RFID Chips Track Hotel Towels and Bathrobes. Popular Science. April 14, 2011.
- Washable RFID Tags to Benefit Clothing Logistics. Gizmag. October 15, 2007. Reports Fijitsu is showing durable soft linen RFID tags for sewing into / onto rental uniforms for tracking real time inventories.
- Fujitsu Washable UHF RFID Tag. WT-A511/A611 tag in product catalog.
- UHF RFID Laundry Tags @ Evertrend Tags. Read distance 3 to 8 meters.
- InvoTech Systems UHF RFID Demo 2010. Uploaded to YouTube May 3, 2011. Video of InvoTech Solutions RFID GIMS uniform system demonstration at HITEC trade show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d25p4Cl3gPc
- Intelliflex FBT-8400 RFID tag. Example of a battery assisted passive UHF (Ultra High Frequency) RFID tag that operates well close to metals, fluids, and the human body, and provides long range reading capabilities.
- RFID: Life Jacket Rental Management Solution Using RFID Tags. Fukuda Kenji of NEC Corporation. NEC Technical Journal. Vol.1. No.2. Pages 110-111. 2006. Use of RFID tags on life jackets in a water sports center life jacket rental operation.
- Circle of Death Propeller Accident Invention disclosure. Propeller Guard Information Center. June 17, 2010.
- MOJIX long range reading technologies for passive RFID tags.
- Autotether a wireless lanyard system.
- MariTech manufacturer of Virtual Lifeline and CAST wireless lanyard systems.
- All five RFID Invention Disclosures we posted today.
It is clear that the present invention is well adapted to carry out the objects and attain the ends and advantages mentioned as well as those inherent therein. While some presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been described for purposes of this disclosure, numerous changes may be made which will readily suggest themselves to those skilled in the art and which are encompassed within the spirit of the invention disclosed and as defined in the appended claims.
We (Polson Enterprises, owner of the Propeller Guard Information Center) claim the the inventions described in this invention disclosure not previously legally claimed or patented by others and now make a public disclosure of them. At this time we retain all rights to these inventions. Any changes in that position will be placed in the Updates section below.
More specifically we claim:
Note: use of the term life jacket below includes traditional life jackets, life vests, inflatable life jackets, inflatable belts, personal floatation devices (PFDs), and other forms of floatation devices used by boat operators.
1. A life jacket containing, holding or attached to an RFID tag(s) for the purpose of being detected by a boat kill switch system (Emergency Engine Cut-Off Switch) as a means of detecting presence of the boat operator.
2. A life jacket containing, holding or attached to RFID tag(s) for the purpose of being detected by a boat kill switch (Emergency Engine Cut-Off Switch) as a means of detecting presence of the boat operator in which the RFID tags are similar to the RFID fobs described in our “Non-Unique RFID Fob / RF Reflector Used to Detect Human Presence and/or Human Proximity and/or Human Location” invention disclosure of this same date. Note that includes unique RFID tags, non-unique RFID tags, and RF Reflector tags as a substitute for RFID tag(s) in this claim.
3. A life jacket that provides floatation and serves as a virtual lanyard to the kill switch
4. The life jackets described in Claims 1 though 3 in which the RFID tag (or tags) utilized in the LJAKS (RFID Life Jacket Activated Kill Switch) may be active, passive, semi-passive, or battery assisted passive (BAP).
5. When queried for additional information, the RFID tag(s) of the LJAKS in Claims 1 through 4 could all broadcast the same alphanumeric response, such as the word “HUMAN” or “OPERATOR”.
6. LJAKS in Claims 1 through 5 with rewritable RFID tags.
7. LJAKS in Claim 6 to which the RFID Boat Kill Switch System writes a random generated numeric or alphanumeric code to the boat operators RFID tag(s) to signify which LJAKS is on the boat operator for this particular session.
8. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 7 with RFID tags attached as fobs, as fobs contained within a closeable, sealable pouch in the life jacket (sealable by sewing, zipper, snaps, buttons, or by some other means).
9. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 8 with washable RFID tags of the nature of those manufactured by Fujitsu, Linen Technology Tracking, and several manufacturers on Alibaba.com built into them (sewn in, sewn onto, or otherwise affixed to the LJAKS).
10. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 9 with RFID tags attached as sew on patches or as adhesive patches (possibly resembling military or scouting patches).
11. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 7 with RFID tags attached for use with boat operator kill switches in any manner.
12. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 9 with a pouch or other secure retaining method in which RFID tags could be added after manufacture.
13. Sew on or adhesive patches containing RFID tags for use in convert existing life jackets to LJAKS.
14. LJAKS with temporarily removable RFID tags for the purpose of service, replacement, washing the LJAKS, drying the LJAKS, or other activities.
15. In one embodiment, a passive washable UHF RFID tag is securely sewn into / sewn onto the LJAKS at the time of manufacture.
16. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 15 in which the life jacket is clearly marked as incorporating kill switch RFID tags (either by phrase, name, or logo).
17. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 16 that utilize an RF reflector instead of an RFID tag.
18. LJAKS as described in Claim 17 in which all the RF reflectors are designed to send back the same few bits of data. For example they could be all send back four 1’s (1111).
19 LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 16 in which each RFID tag has its own unique ID / serial number.
20. Large populations of LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 16 that all utilize the same agreed upon ID / serial number on every single RFID tag and are capable of being read by the same RFID reader. For example, they could all use the 16 digit ID number of 1111111111111111.
21. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 16 utilizing unique RFID tags (each with their own unique serial number) or non-unique RFID tags (all with the same serial number) all programed to broadcast the same alphanumeric response, such as the words “HUMAN” or “OPERATOR” when queried for additional information.
22. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 21 that contain more than one RFID tag or RF reflector.
23. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 22 that contain both an RFID tag(s) and an RF reflector(s).
24. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 23 in which the placement of the RFID tag(s) and/or RF reflector(s) is selected for maximum signal, minimum noise, and minimum false positives.
25. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 24 for determining the presence of a boat operator at the helm.
26. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 24 for determining the proximity of a boat operator to the helm (distance from the helm).
27. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 though 26 capable of being energized by multiple antennas.
28. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 27 capable of being used with multiple helms on the same vessel.
29. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 28 capable of being used simultaneously or alternately with traditional lanyard kill switch systems.
30. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 29 utilized in conjunction with an RFID Boat Engine Kill Switch System and other sensors to minimize false positives.
31. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 30 designed to minimize interference from and with other electronic systems on a boat.
32. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 31 capable having their position in 2D or 3D space triangulated.
33. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 32 containing RFID tag(s) used in combination with a human presence detection system and a Boat Kill Switch System to kill the engine(s) of a boat if the operator is absent. Together they act as a replacement for conventional emergency engine cut-off switches (kill switches).
34. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 33 utilized by a boat RFID Kill Switch System utilizing RFID reading and/or RFID writing systems capable of variable detection ranges or multiple detection ranges.
35. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 32 that alert the boat operator when they are about to go out of of range (engine would be shut off) and/or are about to loose contact with the presence system due to orientation of the RFID tag (engine would be shut off). This alert could be a beeping sound and alert the boat operator they need to move closer to the helm or reorient the RFID tag.
36. An alert / alarm as described in Claim 35 triggered by a certain low signal strength of the signals returned from the RFID tag(s) or RF reflector(s) to the Human Presence Detection System portion of the Boat Kill Switch System.
37. Use of any of the LJAKS systems above (Claims 1 through 36).
38. LJAKS as described in Claims 1 through 37 utilized in a Personal Watercraft (PWC).
39. Use of any system described in Claims 1 through 38.
END OF INVENTION DISCLOSURE
Effective 29 August 2012 – We (Polson Enterprises and the Propeller Guard Information Center) now place all parts of the invention described above not previously patented by others in the public domain for use by all who wish to manufacture or use them. The world is certainly welcome to patent improvements to this invention but the basic concepts not previously patented by others are now open to all.
RFID Recognition Award
My work on the RFID life jacket resulted in me being one of five nominees for the ID Limelight Award (to the person who has attracted the highest media attention for his revolutionary ideas on the possible applications of auto ID technology) at the 10th Annual ID World International Congress in Milan Italy, November 2011.
We encourage public comments about this invention disclosure, please leave them on the Summary Page of the Five RFID Invention Disclosures we made today.