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184UKPD         © 2004-5 PatentlyProtected.com
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ABSTRACT
A light switch able to receive electronic instructions from a computer via a data cable, and to controllably
transmit AC power with a root mean squared voltage of at least up to 100 volts according to received
instructions with optionally the capability to transmit a controlled variable power level, also a method and
computer program for the same.


A remotely controlled light switch

This invention relates to a data bus controlled light switch and a method, remote computer and computer
software for a remote computer for the same. It is applicable to the fields of security, energy saving,
entertainment and leisure.  

In the past various types domestic light switches have been known which may be categorised broadly as
on-off switches and as dimmer switches. There are of course also many specialised light switches
suitable for specific functions. Known domestic light switched have the disadvantage that it is necessary
to travel to the switch location to turn a respectively controlled light on, off or to a different brightness.
Attempts have been made to solve this problem including recourse to providing wirelessly controlled light
switches. Infra-red remote control being arguably the cheapest of the available wireless technologies has
been attempted as normal light switches are relatively inexpensive and a vast price increase would be a
deterrent to most consumers, and because consumers could then control the switches with their TV
remote controls. This technology has the disadvantage of requiring a user to be roughly within line of
sight or at least in the same room as the receiving Infra-red device. And so it is difficult to enable a user to
control all the lights in a building and generally is it again often necessary for a user to move to a
controlling location even if the location is as broadly defined as a room.
The data transfer protocol X10 has been used to substantial effect to control devices such as light
switches. This technique involves sending data along the power cables already wired into the building so
that a computer can control devices such as X10 enabled light switches. Although this might have been
an ideal solution, users typically do not install X10 unless they plan to invest in and connect a variety of
X10 devices within their home. As a result, uptake of the technology has been relatively slow and the
associated costs are not envisaged to reduce greatly in the coming years.
Other wireless technologies are still prohibitively expensive and so the vast majority of users (I.e. the
majority of the worlds population) still have to get up and walk across the room every time that a different
ambient light level is wanted.
It would therefore be desirable to provide a means whereby users need not install specialist data transfer
equipment but can control affordable light switches from anywhere in a building.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a means by which a user may control a light switch
remotely.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an affordable means by which a user may control a
light switch remotely.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a light switch comprising a data cable
connector and adapted to at least receive electronic instructions via the data cable connector, to receive at
least alternating electric current with a root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts, and to controllably
transmit electrical power therefrom on the basis of received instructions.
According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of controlling a light
having the steps of receiving alternating electric current with a root mean squared voltage of at least 100
volts, transmitting electrical power, receiving electronic instructions via a data cable connector and
controlling the transmitted electrical power according to received electronic instructions.
According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer system comprising a
data cable connector, adapted to send electronic instructions to the light switch of the first aspect via the
data cable connector to control the controllably transmitted electrical power.
According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program adapted to
control a computer to perform the method having the steps of:
recognising at least one connected light switch;
displaying a user interface displaying a representation of the at least one connected light switch;
accept user instructions at least for controlling the connected light switch;
transmitting data instructions electronically via a data cable connector to a light switch adapted to
controllably transmit electrical power to control a transmitted electrical power according to the user
instructions.
According to a fifth aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program adapted to
control a computer to recognise any connected light switch or switches, to display a user interface
displaying a representation of any connected light switch or switches,        to accept user instructions at
least for controlling any connected light switch or switches, and to transmit data instructions electronically
via a data cable connector to a light switch adapted to controllably transmit electrical power according to
the user instructions.

For a better understanding of the invention and to show how the same may be carried into effect,
reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is an illustration of a known wall light switch;
Figure 2 is a diagram of a light switch according to one embodiment of the invention;
Figure 3 is a diagram of a light switch according to another embodiment of the invention; and
Figure 4 is a diagram of a light switch according to a further embodiment of the invention.

According to a general embodiment of the first aspect there is provided a light switch comprising a data
cable connector and adapted to at least receive electronic instructions via the data cable connector, to
receive at least alternating electric current with a root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts, and to
controllably transmit electrical power therefrom on the basis of received instructions.
According to one embodiment the data cable connector may be a USB data cable connector.
According to another embodiment the data cable connector may be a firewire (TM) data cable connector.
According to another embodiment the data cable connector may be a serial data cable connector.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one single throw switch or
dimmer switch and be adapted to receive electronic instructions representing at least an ‘on’ command
and an ‘off’ command.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one single throw switch and
be adapted to receive electronic instructions representing at least an ‘on’ command and an ‘off’
command.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one dimmer switch and be
adapted to receive electronic instructions representing at least an ‘on’ command, an ‘off’ command, and
a power value command including power level information.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one dimmer switch and be
adapted to receive electronic instructions representing at least an ‘on’ command, an ‘off’ command, an
‘increase power’ command and a ‘decrease power’ command.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may be adapted to transmit information
representing at least a power level or a power status.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise a light measuring means and be
adapted to transmit information representing a measured light level via a data cable connector.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise a hub adapted to receive digital
information addressed to any of the light switch and any other connected devices and to provide the
digital information to the light switch if the digital information is addressed to the lights with and to
otherwise transmit the digital information to any connected device to which the digital information is
addressed.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may have a space for a hub.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise a mechanical switch adapted to
mechanically open and close an electrical circuit and to controllably transmit alternating current with a
root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one power button adapted to
electrically or electronically control a power switch adapted to controllably transmit alternating current with
a root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise a mechanical switch adapted to
mechanically open and close an electrical circuit and comprising a triode alternating current switch and a
mechanically adjustable rheostat adapted to control said triode alternating current switch to controllably
transmit alternating current with a root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts.
According to any of the embodiments the light switch may comprise at least one power button adapted to
electrically or electronically control a power switch adapted to controllably transmit alternating current with
a root mean squared voltage of at least 100 volts, a triode alternating current switch, and at least one
button adapted to electrically or electronically control said triode alternating current switch to vary a
transmitted electrical power.
According to a general embodiment of the fifth aspect there is provided a computer program adapted to
control a computer to recognise any connected light switch or switches, to display a user interface
displaying a representation of any connected light switch or switches,        to accept user instructions at
least for controlling any connected light switch or switches, and to transmit data instructions electronically
via a data cable connector to a light switch adapted to controllably transmit electrical power according to
the user instructions.
According to another embodiment of the fifth aspect there is provided a computer program adapted to
control a computer to recognise any connected light switch or switches, to recognise any additional
connected devices, to display a user interface displaying a representation of any connected light switch or
switches or any additional recognised connected devices, to accept user instructions at least for
controlling any connected light switch or switches or any additional recognised connected devices, and to
transmit data instructions electronically via a data cable connector to a light switch adapted to controllably
transmit electrical power according to the user instructions.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect the user instructions at least for controlling any connected
light switch or switches may include user instructions specifying a rule for controlling any recognised
connected light switches of additional recognised devices according to user specified parameters and
during user specified time periods.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect the accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting voice instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches via at least a microphone.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting voice instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches via a remote connection to a remote device.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting voice instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches via a wireless connection to a remote device.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting voice instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches via a Bluetooth (TM) connection to a Bluetooth (TM) enabled portable
device.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting digital instructions via any of at least one infra-
red receiving device from a remote control.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting remote instructions via the internet.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting remote instructions sent via a website.
According to any embodiment of the fifth aspect accepting user instructions at least for controlling any
connected light switch or switches may include accepting remote instructions sent via a wireless
keyboard.

A light switch controllable by a data bus or data cable is proposed which may receive digital instructions
from the data bus or data cable via a data cable connector. The light switch will preferably be controllable
both manually and electronically.
Such a controllable light switch may be constructed in a first fashion having a mechanical switch but
additionally have an actuator adapted to move the mechanical switch. In the case of a dimmer switch the
actuator is able to move the switch so as to perform both operations of dimming and of turning on and off.
Some cheap dimmer switches provide only the function of dimming and according to one embodiment
the light switch would only provide this function and the actuator would only be able to control this
function. Preferably the mechanical switch will change a power level on a part thereof being rotated. More
preferably the mechanical switch will change a power state between ‘on’ and ‘off’ on being depressed,
and change a power level on a part thereof being rotated.
Such a controllable light switch as described may be constructed in a second fashion having an
electronic switch and at least one power button adapted to provide electronic control of the electronic
switch. In the case of a dimmer switch there will be at least one power button adapted to provide
electronic control of the dimming function of the electronic switch. Preferably there will be separate
buttons to control each of changing a power status, increasing a power level and decreasing a power
level. More preferably there will be separate buttons to control each of turning power on, turning power off,
increasing a power level and decreasing a power level
Such a controllable light switch as described may be constructed in a third fashion having a mechanical
switch and an electronic switch each being single pole double throw switches, the mechanical switch
being manually switchable and the electronic switch being electronically controllable, the two switches
connected together in a three-way switch configuration such that switching either switch will change a
power state between ‘on’ and ‘off’. Preferably there may additionally be provided means to determine a
power state and to communicate such a determination via the data cable connector to a connected
computer. Preferably the means to determine a power state comprises an electronic voltage detector.
Alternatively the means to determine a power state may comprise a light detector.
Yet further alternatively the means to determine a power state may comprise a contact detector for a
contact arranged to be variably contacted according to a position of the mechanical switch. Yet further
alternatively the means to determine a power state may be the mechanical switch being a double pole
switch, the second part or pole of which need not be double throw and need not be adapted to convey
alternating current with a root mean squared voltage of at least 100V.
In any embodiment where there is an at least electronically controlled dimming switch not being manually
rotably controllable, additional attention must be paid to the manner in which the dimming operation is to
be performed.
According to any of the embodiments there may be provided a voltage controlled resistor or a transistor
which in combination with at least one capacitor provides a controlling voltage to the triode.
In general according to any of the embodiments any triode may be controlled by a controlling voltage from
at least one capacitor and a resistance varying means. The resistance varying means may be any of a
variable resistor or rheostat or a transistor.

Description of the Preferred Embodiments.
An embodiment of this invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. This invention is for
use as an audio data receptacle. Figure 2 shows a light switch according to one embodiment.
According to a preferred embodiment there is provided a light power switch adapted to receive and to
variably transmit electrical power, being alternating current with a root mean squared voltage of at least
100V. The light switch is able to be both manually switched and electronically switched. Manual switching
is performed by manually moving a power switch, and electronic switching is performed by sending
electronic instructions to the light switch via a USB data cable connector. Both the manual switch and the
electronic switch are double throw switches and are connected together in a three way switch
configuration. This ensures that even when no computer or hub is connected to the switch via USB it will
still be possible to control the light switch manually. The electronic switch either has a default state when
no power is available for electronic components or will remain in either state when power is cut to any
electronic components.
The manual switch is provided as a double pole double throw switch where only a first pole is connected
to the electronic switch. The second pole is connected to the electronic components such that an
electronic determination of the manual switch position may be made. One of the two throw connectors of
the second pole of the manual switch is either absent or may be disconnected such that the arrangement
may be equivalent to the second pole being a single throw switch.  
Accordingly the light switch may be controlled manually and may be controlled by a remote computer, and
in the case of not being connected to a USB cable the light switch will operate as a manual power switch.
The light switch will react to conflicting manual and electronic control by accepting manual control where
possible. The light switch is adapted to transmit information regarding a power status via the USB
connector to a connected computer.
Figure 3 shows a circuit diagram according to the above preferred embodiment.
According to a preferred embodiment there is provided a light dimmer switch adapted to receive and to
variably transmit electrical power, being alternating current with a root mean squared voltage of at least
100V. The light switch is able to be both manually switched and electronically switched. Manual switching
is performed by manually moving a power switch, and electronic switching is performed by sending
electronic instructions to the light switch via a USB data cable connector. Both the manual switch and the
electronic switch are double throw switches and are connected together in a three way switch
configuration. This ensures that even when no computer or hub is connected to the switch via USB it will
still be possible to control the light switch manually.
The manual switch is provided as a double pole double throw switch where only a first pole is connected
to the electronic switch. The second pole is connected to the electronic components such that an
electronic determination of the manual switch position may be made. One of the two throw connectors of
the second pole of the manual switch is either absent or may be disconnected such that the arrangement
may be equivalent to the second pole being a single throw switch.
The electronic switch either has a default state when no power is available for electronic components or
will remain in either state when power is cut to any electronic components. Electronic dimming control is
performed by sending dimming instructions via the USB connector to a voltage generator which varies a
voltage as required and manual dimming control is performed by selecting and pressing an ‘increase
power’ button or a ‘decrease power’ button to control the voltage generator to vary a voltage as
appropriate. The variable voltage is supplied to a terminal of a triode alternating current switch which
varies a transmitted power level accordingly. The variable voltage will naturally be zero in the case that
power is cut to any electronic components which will result in a power level being a maximum unless a
power state is ‘off’. Accordingly the light switch will not remain in an undesirably dimmed state in the case
that power is cut to any of the electronic components.
Accordingly the light switch may be controlled manually and may be controlled by a remote computer, and
in the case of not being connected to a USB cable the light switch will operate as a manual power switch
without any dimming function. The light switch will react to conflicting manual and electronic control by
accepting manual control where possible. The light switch is adapted to transmit information regarding a
power status and a power level via the USB connector to a connected computer.
Figure 4 shows a circuit diagram according to the above preferred embodiment.
The use of the term USB in this document means relating to the universal serial bus standard, sending
information thereby or having a cable or connector thereof.


CLAIMS

1. A light switch comprising a data cable connector and adapted to at least receive electronic instructions
via the data cable connector, to receive at least alternating electric current with a root mean squared
voltage of at least 100 volts, and to controllably transmit electrical power therefrom on the basis of
received instructions.

2. A light switch of claim 1 comprising at least one mechanical switch.

3. A light switch of claim 1 or 2 comprising at least one electronic switch.

2. A light switch of claim 1 comprising at least one mechanical at least double throw switch and at least
one electronic at least double throw switch.

3. A light switch of claim 1 or 2 comprising a triode alternating current switch.

4. A light switch of claim 3 wherein at least one terminal of the triode alternating current switch is
connected to a transistor.

5. A light switch of claim 1, 2, 3 or 4 wherein the data cable connector is a USB data cable connector and
said electronic instructions are received via USB.

6. A light switch of one of claims 1 to 5 adapted to transmit information via the data cable connector
indicating at least one of a power level and a power status.

7. A light switch of one of claims 1 to 6 comprising a wireless receiver and wherein the light switch is at
least adapted to transmit information received wirelessly via the data cable connector.

8. A light switch of one of claims 1 to 7 being wall mountable and being for use as a wall mounted light
domestic light switch.

9. A method of controlling a light having the steps of receiving alternating electric current with a root mean
squared voltage of at least 100 volts, transmitting electrical power, receiving electronic instructions via a
data cable connector and controlling the transmitted electrical power according to received electronic
instructions.

10. A computer system comprising a data cable connector, adapted to send electronic instructions to the
light switch of the first aspect via the data cable connector to control the controllably transmitted electrical
power.

11. A computer program adapted to control a computer to perform the method having the steps of:
recognising at least one connected light switch;
displaying a user interface displaying a representation of the at least one connected light switch;
accept user instructions at least for controlling the connected light switch;
transmitting data instructions electronically via a data cable connector to a light switch adapted to
controllably transmit electrical power to control a transmitted electrical power according to the user
instructions.

12. A computer program adapted to control a computer to recognise any connected light switch or
switches of any of claims 1 to 8, to display a user interface displaying a representation of any connected
light switch or switches,        to accept user instructions at least for controlling any connected light switch
or switches, and to transmit data instructions electronically via a data cable connector to a light switch
adapted to controllably transmit electrical power according to the user instructions.

13. A computer program of claim 12 wherein said user instructions include user defined rules relating to
later control of any connected light switch or switch.         
14. A computer program of claim 12 or 13 adapted to permit a user to set-up keyboard short-cut keys to
represent predetermined user instructions.

15. A computer program of claim 12, 13 or 14 wherein said user instructions include user instructions
received via any available internet connection or network connection.

16. A computer program of claim 12, 13, 14 or 15 wherein said user instructions include voice
instructions.

17. A computer program of claim 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 wherein said user instructions include an
instruction to control any connected light switch or switches according to detected features of a music
audio data signal.

18. A computer program of any one of claims 12 to 18 wherein said user instructions include instructions
received via a wireless connection.

19. A light switch adapted to be remotely controllable as hereinbefore described with reference to figures
2 to 4.

20. A method for controlling a light switch as hereinbefore described with reference to figures 2 to 4.

21. A computer program for controlling a computer to control and light switches connected thereto as
hereinbefore described with reference to figures 2 to 4.
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