Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20030164014 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/240,826
PCT numberPCT/IB2001/000572
Publication dateSep 4, 2003
Filing dateApr 5, 2001
Priority dateApr 6, 2000
Also published asWO2001078019A2, WO2001078019A3
Publication number10240826, 240826, PCT/2001/572, PCT/IB/1/000572, PCT/IB/1/00572, PCT/IB/2001/000572, PCT/IB/2001/00572, PCT/IB1/000572, PCT/IB1/00572, PCT/IB1000572, PCT/IB100572, PCT/IB2001/000572, PCT/IB2001/00572, PCT/IB2001000572, PCT/IB200100572, US 2003/0164014 A1, US 2003/164014 A1, US 20030164014 A1, US 20030164014A1, US 2003164014 A1, US 2003164014A1, US-A1-20030164014, US-A1-2003164014, US2003/0164014A1, US2003/164014A1, US20030164014 A1, US20030164014A1, US2003164014 A1, US2003164014A1
InventorsYoshiharu Matsushita, Noriko Matsushita
Original AssigneeYoshiharu Matsushita, Noriko Matsushita
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Lock-confirmation supporting device
US 20030164014 A1
Abstract
To provide a lock-confirmation supporting device which helps a user to do the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being easily and surely at the time right after the locking operation, and to do the lock reconfirmation easily after being locked. A lock-confirmation supporting device is constituted of a key holder portion (2) in which a key is held and out of which it is taken by a user for locking and an electronic clock portion (3) comprising a clock circuit, CPU, ROM, RAM and a display unit. The lock-confirmation supporting device generates a lock-confirmed signal upon the user's key-returned action right after the locking oepration. Upon the lock-confirmed signal, the lock-confirming device stores in the RAM of the electronic clock portion (3) the real time as the lock-confirmed time and informs the user of the lock-confirmed time by displaying it on a liquid crystal display unit (18). The lock-confirmed signal is generated by a key-taken out or key-returned sensor means, a locking sound detecting means including locking sound sensor, for example, a microphone (5 a) and the like or manual input switch (22) provided in the key holder portion (2). The lock-confirmed time stored in the RAM is displayed on the liquid crystal display unit (18) by operating a reconfirmation switch (7) after locking.
Images(19)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(11)
1. A lock-confirmation supporting device having a key holder in which a key is held and out of which it is taken by a user for locking, comprising:
a real time clock for measuring time,
a memory means for storing the lock-confirmed time,
a display means for displaying the lock-confirmed time,
a means for generating a lock-confirmed signal upon the user's key-returned action right after the locking operation,
a manual switch for inputting a reconfirming signal, and
a control means effective, upon the lock-confirmed signal, to store the real time measured by said real time clock as the lock-confirmed time in said memory means and to make said display means inform the user of the lock-confirmed time, and upon the reconfirming signal, to read the lock-confirmed time from said memory means and to make the display means inform the user of the lock-confirmed time.
2. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 1 wherein said key holder has a pocket in which a key is held and out of which it is taken by a user for locking, and said means for generating a lock-confirmed signal includes a key-returned sensing switch which is positioned in the pocket and senses the moment when the key is returned to the pocket of the key holder.
3. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 1 wherein said key holder has a case with a lid in which a key is held and of out which it is taken by a user for locking, and said means for generating a lock-confirmed signal includes a lid-open/close sensing switch which is positioned in the case and senses the moment when the lid is closed after the user returns the key to the case of the key holder.
4. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 1 further comprising a speaker means for announcing the lock-confirmed time, and said control means effective, upon the lock-confirmed signal, to store the real time measured by said real time clock as the lock-confirmed time in said memory and to make said speaker means announce the lock-confirmed time, and upon the reconfirming signal, to read the lock-confirmed time from said memory means and to make the speaker means announce the lock-confirmed time
5. A lock-confirmation supporting device having a key holder in which a key is held and of out which it is taken by a user for locking, comprising:
a real time clock means for measuring time,
a memory means for storing the lock-confirmed time,
an information means for informing the lock-confirmed time and the calling message,
a key-taken out sensing means for generating a key-taken out signal by sensing the moment when the user takes the key out of the key holder,
a calling message informing control means for making the information means inform the user of the calling message read out of the memory means upon the key-taken out signal,
a key-returned sensing means for generating a key-returned signal by sensing the moment when the user returns the key to the key holder,
a first confirmed time-informing control means for making the memory means store the real time measured by the real time clock means as the confirmed time, and for controlling the information means to inform the user of the confirmed time upon the key-returned signal,
a reconfirming signal means for inputting reconfirming signal, and
a second confirmed time-informing control means for making the information means inform the user of the confirmed time read out of said memory means upon the reconfirming signal.
6. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein said key holder has a pocket in which a key is held and out of which it is taken by a user for locking, and said means for generating a lock-confirmed signal includes a key-returned sensing switch which is positioned in the pocket and senses the moment when the key is returned to the pocket of the key holder.
7. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein said key holder has a case with a led in which a key is held and out of which it is taken by a user for locking, and said means for generating a lock-confirmed signal includes a lid-open/close sensing switch which is positioned in the case and senses the moment when the lid is closed after the user returns the key to the case of the key holder.
8. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein said calling message is the key-lock calling message.
9. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein said calling message is the safety check calling message.
10. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein the information means includes the liquid crystal display.
11. A lock-confirmation supporting device according to claim 5 wherein the information means includes the speaker.
Description
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Technical Field to Which the Invention Belongs

[0002] The present invention relates to a lock-confirmation supporting device which helps a user to do the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being at the time right after the locking operation and to do the lock reconfirmation after being locked.

[0003] 1. Prior Art

[0004] In case of going-out, everybody might have an experience of feeling anxious about whether locking has been done or not. If soon after going-out, not a few users return to do the lock confirmation. Some users feel uneasy and ask their neighbors or relatives to see if lock has been done or not over the telephone. Especially, many old users living alone seem to do such action frequently. They have also similar experiences regarding a safety check confirmation of gas, electricity, fastening doors of the house, etc.

[0005] However, people seem mostly to be seized with uneasiness when it is uncertain whether locking has been done or not within about an hour after going-out, especially within the time they can return at once, namely about 10 minutes after going-out. Even though they do not return, they do not feel uneasy any more in a short time. It is considered that they try to think that it is all right or have interest in other things.

[0006] Generally people do locking unconsciously in a daily life. In spite of this, they seldom forget to lock. However, they often feel uneasy about whether locking has been done or not.

[0007] To prevent from forgetting to lock, a user does the lock confirmation. The lock confirmation is done at the time right after the locking operation. The user keep in mind that he or she has locked with the senses of touch, sight and hearing in the course of a series of his or her actions for locking, wherein he or she takes a key out of a key case, inserts it into a keyhole, turns it in the direction of locking, hears a locking sound like “GACHA”, withdraws it out of the keyhole and then returns it in the key case. Such lock confirmation is a habitual action in the user's daily life.

[0008] People who are cautious or feel anxious to everything confirm that a door is not opened by operating a door knob right after being locked. They keep this action in mind, too. This lock confirmation is also a habitual action to some people.

[0009] There is no trouble in daily life of almost all the people by doing the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being. However, they are not always released from uneasiness about whether locking has been done or not. For this reason, various kinds of conventional lock-confirmation supporting devices have been proposed.

[0010] A conventional lock-confirmation device is constituted of a lock display means for displaying a locking/unlocking state and the time of the last key operation, a lock-sensing means for sensing the locking operation, and a display control means for driving the lock display means on the bases of sensing the locking operation. The lock display means is an electronic or mechanical one. The lock-sensing means senses a straight-line motion of a key when it is inserted into a keyhole or a rotary motion of the key for locking or unlocking. The lock-sensing means is an electronic, mechanical or electromechanical one which generally has a complicated mechanism. A main body of the lock-confirmation devices equipped with these constituents is a key itself or a special key holder. The conventional lock-confirmation device incorporated in a key itself includes movable members for sensing the locking operation and displaying the locking/unlocking state in its head. Therefore, such devices have an essential defect that cannot be applied to keys which are popularly used for locks attached to doors of houses and cars. The reminder apparatus disclosed in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,025,426 is an example of the conventional lock-confirmation device stated above.

[0011] The conventional lock-confirmation devices equipped with a special key holder as a main body are disclosed, for example, in Unexamined Japanese Patent Publication (KOKAI) Nos. 6-212840, 7-233662 and 10-238180. These lock-confirmation devices are intended to be applied to keys which are popularly used for locks attached to doors of houses and cars.

[0012] Firstly, the conventional lock-confirmation device as disclosed in the publication No. 6-212840 is applied to a special case of a size similar to a purse, in which a key is held and of which it is withdrawn out partially. Said conventional lock-confirmation device has a linear groove, a key-mounting member for sliding along the groove provided in the special case, a display lamp, and a sensing pin. When a main body of the key fixed to the key mounting member is withdrawn out of the special case, the sensing pin senses the partial withdrawal of the key and actuates a switch to turn on the display lump. However, this lock-confirmation device has a complicated mechanism for mounting the key in the special case so as to keep it in the straight-line motion. It is inconvenient for a user to do the locking/unlocking action, because the key itself cannot be taken out of the case completely. Furthermore, it is impossible for the user to confirm the locking by the display lump only, because the display lump is turned on when the key is withdrawn partially for the unlocking. Still further, there are many kinds of keys with different size and/or shape. It is impossible to apply this lock-confirmation device having the key-mounting member with a certain size or a mounting position and the sensing pin to those keys. Therefore, this prior art is not suitable for a wide use.

[0013] Secondly, the conventional lock-confirmation device as disclosed in the publication No. 7-233662 is constituted of a display magnet as a lock display means which is put and rotated in the hollow formed at the front end of a special holder of a key. The special holder holds only a head of the key. The display magnet is driven by reciprocal action of the magnetic field between the display magnet and a driving magnet mounted on the outer front end of a key cylinder so that the display magnet indicates a locking or unlocking state. However, the display means of the lock-confirmation devices is easily influenced by a shock or outer magnetic field so that the reliability of display is low. Further, as the head of the key must be kept in the special holder during the locking operation, the grip portion of the key becomes larger, resulting in some inconvenience to the locking/unlocking operation. It is impossible to apply this lock-confirmation device having the special holder with a certain size to those keys with various kinds of sizes or shapes. Therefore, this prior art is not suitable for a wide use.

[0014] Lastly, the conventional lock-confirmation devices as disclosed in the publication No. 10-238180 has a lock display means provided in a special holder attached to a head of a key. However, the lock-confirmation device also has features that the special holder holding the head of the key is used and that locking is done while the head of the key is kept in the special holder. Furthermore the lock-sensing means is an electronic, mechanical or electro-mechanical one which has a complicated mechanism. Accordingly, it is inconvenient to do the locking/unlocking operation and it is not suitable for a wide use, the same as the devices disclosed in the publication No. 7-233662.

[0015] Although people can understand that the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being is correct nearly 100 percent, they are often seized with uneasiness about whether lock has been done or not. The uneasiness comes from the difficulty in remembering whether they have locked or not. It is most likely to occur within about 10 minutes after being locked that they are seized with the uneasiness as described above. Even within about 10 minutes after going-out, they can not remember their having locked. This comes from unconsciously doing the lock confirmation as well as the locking action. People can hardly keep in mind their daily actions which they have done unconsciously.

[0016] The conventional lock-confirmation devices are intended to record the lock-information on a mechanical or an electric memory means in place of the user's brain, on the assumption that most of the unconscious actions done habitually in the daily life are not kept in mind. The lock-information is the time of the last key operation for locking as shown in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,025,426. However, as stated above, since the key cannot be detached or taken out of the lock-confirmation device at the time of lock confirmation, it is inconvenient for the user to do the locking operation. As a special holder for the key is needed and the devices cannot be easily applied to the keys of various kinds and sizes, this prior art is not suitable for a wide use. Consequently, the conventional lock-confirming devices do not seem to be put into practice. In conclusion, because an expensive home security system or home automation system cannot be introduced to common houses, people cannot help relying upon the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being.

PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED BY THE INVENTION

[0017] The first problem to be solved is to provide a lock-confirmation supporting device which helps a user to do the lock confirmation with the senses of a human being easily and surely at the time right after the locking operation.

[0018] The second problem to be solved is to provide a lock-confirmation supporting device which helps a user to do the lock reconfirmation easily after being locked.

[0019] The third problem to be solved is to provide a lock-confirming supporting device which can be widely applied to different kinds of keys in shapes and sizes including those which are popularly used for locks attached to doors of houses and cars.

MEANS OF SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM

[0020] A lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention is constituted of, in combination, a portable electronic clock portion comprising a clock means, a central processor unit (CPU), a read only memory (ROM), a random access memory (RAM) and a display and/or speaker means, and a key holder portion, whereby storing a lock-confirmed time in the RAM and making the display and/or speaker means inform it. The CPU detects a lock-confirmed signal and recognizes the time measured by the clock means upon the lock-confirmed signal as the lock-confirmed time.

[0021] The lock-confirmed signal is generated at the last action of a series of locking actions, wherein a user takes a key out of a key holder, inserts the key into a keyhole, turns it in the direction of locking, hears a locking sound like “GACHA”, withdraws it out of the keyhole and then returns it to the key holder.

[0022] Used as a lock-confirmed signal generating means are a key-taken out or key-returned sensor for sensing the key-taken out or key-return provided in the key holder portion, a locking sound sensor for sensing the locking sound provided in the key holder portion or a portable electronic clock portion, a lid-open/close sensor actuated by a lid of the key holder portion or the portable electronic clock portion, or a manual input switch, etc.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0023]FIG. 1 is a circuit block diagram showing an embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0024]FIG. 2 is a circuit block diagram showing another embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0025]FIG. 3 is a circuit block diagram showing still another embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0026]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a key-taken out or key-returned sensing means as a lock-confirmed signal generating means.

[0027]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a locking sound sensing means as a lock-confirmed signal generating means.

[0028]FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a lid-open/close sensing means as a lock-confirmed signal generating means.

[0029]FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a manual input switch as a lock-confirmed signal generating means.

[0030]FIG. 8 is a sectional view of an embodiment of a key holder portion having a key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch.

[0031]FIG. 9(A) is a block diagram of an embodiment of a key-taken out or key-returned sensor.

[0032]FIG. 9(B) is a waveform of an example of a lock-confirmed signal.

[0033]FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a key holder portion having a lid-open/close sensor.

[0034]FIG. 11 is a basic flow chart of the lock-confirmed operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0035]FIG. 12 is a flow chart of the lock-confirmed operation of an embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0036]FIG. 13 is a flow chart of the lock-confirmed operation of another embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0037]FIG. 14 is a basic flow chart of the lock reconfirming operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0038]FIG. 15 is a flow chart of reset operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0039]FIG. 16 is a functional block diagram showing an embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0040]FIG. 17 is a functional block diagram showing another embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0041]FIG. 18 is a functional block diagram showing still another embodiment of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

MODE OF CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

[0042] Referring now to FIGS. 1 to 3, the embodiments of a lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention shown in block diagram will be explained.

[0043] A lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 1 is characterized by a key-taken out or key-returned sensor and a reconfirming switch. The device comprises CPU 11 for performing various kinds of operation and control in accordance with its program, ROM 12 for storing the program and various kinds of message information, RAM 13 for storing a confirmed time, etc., an oscillator circuit 14 for generating a standard frequency, a frequency divider circuit 15 for dividing the standard frequency into a time clock frequency, a clock circuit 16 for measuring time upon the time clock frequency, a display unit driving circuit 17, a liquid crystal display unit 18, a compound sound generating circuit 19, a speaker 20, the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 and the reconfirming switch 7.

[0044] A key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 as a lock-confirmed signal generating means generates a signal S representing that a user takes a key out of a key holder portion or a key case, and inputs it to the PCU 11. A reconfirming switch 7 inputs a reconfirming signal S5 to the CPU 11.

[0045] The ROM 12 includes a program memory portion 12 a for storing control program, etc., for CPU 11, a message information memory portion 12 b for storing a lock-calling message, a melody information memory portion 12 c for storing such melodies as make a user feel at ease, and a character information memory portion 12 d for storing such image characters as give the user feeling of game. RAM 13 includes a confirmed time memory portion 13 a. The confirmed time stored in the confirmed time memory portion 13 a is the time when the user has done the lock confirmation. In this embodiment, the time measured by the clock circuit 16 at the moment when a key-taken out or key-returned signal S is input into CPU 11 is stored as the confirmed time.

[0046] A clock timer means is constituted of the oscillator circuit 14 for generating the standard frequency, the frequency divider circuit 15 for dividing the standard frequency into the time clock frequency and the clock circuit 16 for measuring time upon the time clock frequency. A memory means is constituted of ROM 12 and RAM 13. CPU 11 and ROM 12 constitutes various kinds of control means.. Furthermore, a display and speaker means comprises, in combination, an image display means consisting of the display unit driving circuit 17 and the liquid crystal display unit 18, and a sound annunciation means consisting of the compound sound generating circuit 19 and the speaker 20.

[0047] A lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 2 is characterized by a locking sound sensor and a reconfirming switch. The device comprises CPU 11 for performing various kinds of operation and control in accordance with its program, ROM 12 for storing the program and various kinds of message information, RAM 13 for storing a confirmed time, etc., an oscillator circuit 14 for generating a standard frequency, a frequency divider circuit 15 for dividing the standard frequency into a time clock frequency, a clock circuit 16 for measuring time upon the time clock frequency, a display unit driving circuit 17, a liquid crystal display unit 18, a compound sound generating circuit 19, a speaker 20, a locking sound sensor 5 and a reconfirming switch 7.

[0048] The locking sound sensor 5, which is a lock-confirmed signal generating means, senses a metallic sound like [GACHA] occurring at the time of locking, namely, when a key is inserted into a keyhole and then turned in the direction of locking. The locking sound sensor 5 deals with locking sound signals sensed by a microphone, for example, via a signal processing circuit and generates a pulse signal. The signal processing circuit includes filters and amplifiers.

[0049] The clock means, the memory means, various kinds of control means and the display and speaker means in FIG. 2 are basically the same as those in FIG. 1.

[0050] A lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 3 is characterized by a key-taken out or key-returned sensor, a locking sound sensor and a reconfirming switch. The device comprises CPU 11 for performing various kinds of operation and control in accordance with its program, ROM 12 for storing the program and various kinds of message information, RAM 13 for storing a confirmed time, etc., an oscillator circuit 14 for generating a standard frequency, a frequency divider circuit 15 for dividing the standard frequency into a time clock frequency, a clock circuit 16 for measuring time upon the time clock frequency, a display unit driving circuit 17, a liquid crystal display unit 18, a compound sound generating circuit 19, a speaker 20, the locking sound sensor 5 and the reconfirming switch 7.

[0051] The lock-confirmed signal generating means in FIG. 3 is the same as the locking sound sensor 5 in FIG. 2. A clock means, a memory means, various kinds of control means and a display and speaker means in FIG. 3 are basically the same as those in FIG. 1.

[0052] Next, referring to FIGS. 4 to 7, four embodiments of a lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention, each of which is different in a perspective view, will be explained.

[0053]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a key-taken out or key-returned sensor as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. The lock-confirmation supporting device is constituted of a key holder portion 2 and an electronic clock portion 3. Those are stored in the case 10 of the electronic clock portion, in which an upper case 10 a and a bottom case 10 b are coupled by a hinge. Positioned in the upper case 10 a are CPU 11, ROM 12, RAM 13, an oscillator circuit 14, a frequency divider circuit 15, a clock circuit 16, a display unit driving circuit 17, a compound sound generating circuit 19 and a speaker 20. A block diagram of the lock-confirmation supporting device in FIG. 4 is as shown in FIG. 3.

[0054] A liquid crystal display unit 18 is also positioned in the upper case 10 a. The numeral “09:16” displayed on the liquid crystal display 18 represents that the lock confirmation was done at sixteen past nine.

[0055] A recess 10 c is formed in the bottom case 10 b. In the recess 10 c, a reconfirming switch 7, a reset switch 8, a manual input switch. 22 and an check confirmation switch 23 are positioned. In the bottom case 10 b, a liquid crystal display on/off switch 24 is also positioned. The liquid crystal display on/off switch 24 makes the liquid display unit 18 off when a lid, i.e. the upper case is closed and makes it on when the lid is opened.

[0056] A key holder portion 2 of a pocket type is formed in the bottom case 10 b. In FIG. 4, a key 1 such as a key cylinder or a car key is shown as it is inserted into the key holder portion 2. A key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 is positioned inside the key holder 2 and generates a key-taken out or key-returned signal upon sense of taking out or return of the key 1. The details of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor is explained later, referring to FIGS. 8 and 9.

[0057]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a locking sound sensor as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. A lock-confirmation supporting device in FIG. 5 is the same as shown in FIG. 4 except for the use of the locking sound sensor in place of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. In FIG. 5, a lock-confirmed signal is generated by the locking sound sensor 5. A microphone 5 a, one of the elements of the locking sound sensor, is positioned in the bottom case 10 b of an electronic clock portion. A block diagram of this lock-confirmation supporting device is as shown in FIG. 3.

[0058]FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a manual input switch as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. This lock-confirmation supporting device is the same as shown in FIG. 4 except for the use of a manual input switch 22 in place of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. That is, a key holder portion 2 of a pocket type simply functions as a key holder for a key 1 and does not generate a lock-confirmed signal. In FIG. 5, the lock-confirmed signal is generated by the users' action of the manual input switch 22 positioned in the bottom case 10 b of the electronic clock portion. In FIG. 6, the key 1 inserted into the key holder portion 2 of is a plastic card key for use in an electronic lock. A block diagram of this lock-confirmation supporting device is as shown in FIG. 1, in which the manual input switch is used in place of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4.

[0059]FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention using a lid-open/close sensor as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. This lock-confirmation supporting device is the same as shown in FIG. 4 except for the use of a lid-open/close sensor in place of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. A block diagram of this lock-confirmation supporting device is as shown in FIG. 1, in which the lid-open/close sensor is used in place of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. The details of the lid-open/close sensor is explained later, referring to FIG. 9.

[0060] Next, referring to FIGS. 8 to 10, the structure and operation of the key holder portion 2, in which the lock-confirmed means for generating a lock-confirmed signal is provided, will be explained.

[0061]FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the key holder portion 2 with a key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch. FIG. 9 is a drawing for explanation of the structure and operation of the key-taken out or key-returned sensor which generates a lock-confirmed signal S by the key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25. In FIG. 8, the key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25 is positioned in a case 9 of a pocket type made of insulating member. The key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25 is consisting of a movable contact member 25 a and fixed contact member 25 b made of conductivity flat spring, respectively. The movable contact member 25 a also functions as an elastic holding member. That is, the key 1 inserted into the key holder portion 2 is held by elasticity of the movable contact member 25 a and is prevented from falling off while being carried.

[0062] In FIG. 8(A), the key is shown in the state of being taken out of the key holder portion 2. In FIG. 8(B), the key is shown in the state of being inserted or held in the key holder portion 2. As obvious from these Figures, the key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25 is off when the key is held and on when taken out.

[0063] As shown in FIG. 9(A), the movable contact member 25 a of the key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25 is connected to one of the input terminals of the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit 21, while a fixed contact member 25 b of the switch 25 is connected to the other of the input terminals. Thereby, the key-taken out or key-returned sensing switch 25 senses the key-taken out or key-return, generates a on/off signal SO, and inputs it to the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit 21. The on/off signal SO is processed by the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit 21 and a lock-confirmed signal S is generated. Although the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit 21 is constituted of logic circuit elements, e.g. flip-flop circuits, etc., it might be a suitable I/O circuit through which the signal S is input to CPU 11.

[0064] In FIG. 9, the lock-confirmed signal S is generated as a key-taken out signal S1 or a key-returned signal S2. That is, as shown in FIG. 9(B), the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit 21 outputs the key-taken out signal S1 upon detection of a leading edge of the switch open/close signal S0 and the key-returned signal S2 upon detection of a trailing edge of the on/off signal S0 respectively.

[0065]FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a key holder portion 2 having a lid-open/close sensor. In FIG. 10 showing a lid in its open state, a case 9 of the key holder portion 2 is constituted of an upper case 9 a and a bottom case 9 b pivotally coupled by a hinge. A lid-open/close sensor has a lid-open/close sensing switch having an actuating pin 6 a. The lid-open/close sensing switch is positioned in the bottom case 9 b. When a user opens the lid of the case 9 to take out a key 1, the actuating pin 6 a makes the lid-open/close sensing switch “on”, indicating that the lid of the key holder portion 2 has been opened. After being locked or unlocked, the user returns the key to the key holder and closes the lid. Upon the closing of the lid of the key holder the actuating pin 6 a is pushed by the upper case 9 a and makes the lid-open/close sensing switch “off”. Thus, the lid-open/close sensing switch generates on/off signal. The on/off signal is processed by the lock-confirmed signal generating circuit as shown in FIG. 9 and is used as the lock-confirmed signal.

[0066] In FIG. 10, the case 9 of the key holder portion is shown as a separate body from the case 10 of the electronic clock portion, but it is desirable that these cases are formed integrally because the lid-open/close sensing switch and the electronic clock portion are connected by a conductor. Although the operation pin 6 a is shown as it is inserted into a hole 1 a of a head of the key 1, this has no direct relation with the sense of the key-taken out or key-return.

[0067] Next, referring to FIGS. 11 to 15, the operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention will be explained.

[0068]FIG. 11 is a basic flow chart of the lock confirmation operation common to the lock-confirmation supporting devices according to the present invention.

[0069] That is to say, a lock-confirmed signal S in FIG. 11 is automatically or manually generated in the process of a series of user's actions for locking wherein the user takes the key out of the key holder portion 2, locks by using it and returns it to the key holder portion 2 after being locked. When CPU 11 detects said lock-confirmed signal S (101), it makes a confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 store the real time measured by the clock circuit 16 as a confirmed time T (102). Next, CPU 11 reads the confirmed time T out of the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13, controls the display unit driving circuit 17 to display the time T on the liquid crystal display unit 18, gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19, converts it into a sound message, and provides the message through the speaker 20 (103).

[0070]FIG. 12 is a flow chart of one embodiment of the lock confirmation operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention as shown in the block diagram of FIG. 1, the perspective view of FIG. 4, and the functional block diagram of FIG. 17.

[0071] That is to say, in FIG. 12, when a user takes the key 1 out of the key holder portion 2, the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 senses said action and generates the key-taken out signal S1. Then, the lock-confirmation supporting device initiates a lock confirmation operation program. Namely, when CPU 11 detects the key-taken out signal S1 (201), it searches the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 whether the confirmed time T is stored or not (202). In case the confirmed time T is not stored, CPU 11 reads out lock-calling message information stored in the message information memory portion 12 b, controls the display unit driving circuit 17 to display on the liquid crystal display unit 18 the lock-calling message of “SEJOU” in Chinese, for example, gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19 for conversion to a sound message, and informs the user of the lock-calling message such as “Please lock.”, via a speaker (203).

[0072] When the user finish locking and return the key to the key holder portion 2, the key-taken out or key-returned sensor senses this action and generates the key-returned signal S2. When CPU 11 detects the signal S2 (204), CPU 11 makes the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 store the real time measured by the clock timer circuit 16 as the confirmed time T (205). Next, CPU 11 reads the confirmed time T out of the confirming time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13, controls the display unit driving circuit 17 to display the time T on the liquid crystal display unit 18, gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19, converts it into the sound message, and informs the user of the message via the speaker 20 (103).

[0073] The confirmed time is displayed on the liquid crystal display 18 with the numeral “09:16”, and is informed with the sound message such as “It is now nine sixteen.,” or “Lock was confirmed. It is now nine sixteen.,” via the speaker 20 (206). The user reconfirms the lock confirmation by the information of the confirmed time. In this case, almost all the users are to be conscious of the time “9:16”, and to keep in mind that the lock confirmation was done at the time “9:16” as a keyword. Thus, users keep in mind that the lock was done, in the process of a series of the locking actions or immediately after being locked. This lock confirmation is more easily and surely made by using the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention.

[0074] The confirmed time kept in mind can be remembered clearly. If it is within at least about an hour after going-out, it is obvious that almost all the users clearly remember the confirmed time. They can remember the fact that they have confirmed locking by remembering the confirmed time. Accordingly, it is possible to greatly reduce uneasiness of users when it is uncertain whether locking has been done or not by depending upon only the memory promoting effect of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention.

[0075] When the informing of confirmed time is completed at the step 206, CPU 11 terminates the lock confirmation program.

[0076] When the user who locked returns home and take the key 1 out of the key holder portion 2 to unlock, the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 senses this action and generates the key taken out signal S1. Then, the lock-confirmation supporting device initiates the lock confirmation program. Namely, when CPU 11 detects the key-taken out signal S1 (201), it searches the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 whether the confirmed time T is stored or not (202). In case the confirmed time T is stored, CPU 11 resets (207) and terminates the lock confirmation program. In this way, the reset of the lock-confirmation supporting device is automatically performed.

[0077] At the above-mentioned step 206, image character display or melody performance may be done with the notification of the confirmed time. The image character display is done as follows. CPU 11 reads the character information out of the character information memory portion 12 c, and controls the display unit driving circuit 17 on the bases of the character information to display the image character on the liquid crystal display unit 18. The melody performance is done as follows. CPU 11 reads the melody information out of the melody information memory portion 12 d gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19 for conversion to a melody, and casts the melody via the speaker 20. These produce effects of promoting both memorization and use on the users. In the flow chart of FIG. 12, steps 205 and 206 are changeable.

[0078]FIG. 13 is a flow chart of one embodiment of the lock confirmation operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention as shown in the block diagram of FIG. 3, the perspective view of FIG. 5, and the functional block diagram of FIG. 18.

[0079] That is to say, in FIG. 13, when a user takes the key 1 out of the key holder portion 2, the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 senses this action and generates the key-taken out signal S1. Then, the lock-confirmation supporting device initiates a lock confirmation operation program. When CPU 11 detects the key-taken out signal S1 (301), it searches the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 whether the confirmed time T is stored or not (302). In case the confirmed time T is not stored, CPU 11 reads out the check confirmation calling message stored in the message information memory portion 12 b, controls the display unit driving circuit 17 to display on the liquid crystal display unit 18 the check confirmation calling message of “KAKUNIN” in Chinese, for example, gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19 for conversion to a sound message, and notifies the safety check calling message such as “Please make a safety check.”, via a speaker (303).

[0080] When the user operate the check confirmation switch 23 after safety check, a check confirmation signal S4 is generated. CPU 11 detects this signal S4 (304). Thus, a user can make a safety check confirmation.

[0081] Following the safety check confirmation, when the user inserts the key into the keyhole and locks, the lock sound sensor 5 generates a locking sound signal S3. Then, CPU 11 detects the check confirmation signal S4 (305), it makes the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 store the real time measured by the clock circuit 16 as the confirmed time T (306). Next, CPU 11 reads the confirmed time T out of the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13, controls the display unit driving circuit 17 to display the time T on the liquid crystal display unit 18, gives it to the compound sound generating circuit 19 for conversion to a sound message, and notifies the message via the speaker 20 (307).

[0082] When the notification of the confirmed time is completed at the step 307, CPU 11 terminates the lock confirmation program.

[0083] In case a user does not push a check confirmation switch 23 within a predetermined time, for example, one minute after the notification of the check confirmation calling message, CPU 11 detects this (308) and terminates a check confirmation program. In such a case as the user takes much time in check confirmation, CPU 11 initiates the check confirmation program again. Similarly, in case the user did not lock within the predetermined time, CPU 11 detects this (309) and terminates the check confirmation program.

[0084] When the user who locked return home and takes the key 1 out of the key holder portion 2 to unlock, a key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4 senses this action and generates a key-taken out signal S1. Then, the lock-confirmation supporting device initiates a lock confirmation program. Namely, when CPU 11 detects the key-taken out signal S1 (301), it searches the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 whether the confirmed time T is stored or not (302). In case the confirmed time T is stored, CPU 11 resets (310) and terminates the lock confirmation program. In this way, the reset of the lock-confirmation supporting device is automatically performed.

[0085] In the flow chart of FIG. 13, steps 304 and 305 are changeable. Similarly, steps 306 and 307 are changeable.

[0086] The lock-confirmation supporting devices of the present invention can greatly reduce uneasiness of the users when it is uncertain whether locking has been done or not by only the effect of promoting memorization of the lock-confirmation supporting device. Moreover, it can more greatly reduce uneasiness by reconfirming after being locked. The operation of reconfirming locking after going-out is performed in accordance with the flow chart of FIG. 14.

[0087] That is to say, in FIG. 14, when users operate reconfirming switch 7, the reconfirming signal S5 is generated. Then, the lock-confirmation supporting device initiates a reconfirming program. When CPU 11 detects the reconfirming signal S5 (401), it searches the confirmed time memory portion 13 a of RAM 13 whether the confirmed time T is stored or not (402). In case the confirmed time T is stored, CPU 11 again notifies the confirmed time T (403) and terminates the reconfirming program. The notification of the confirmed time T is performed by displaying numerals “09:16” on the liquid crystal display 18 and with the sound message such as “Lock was confirmed at nine sixteen.” via the speaker 20 (206).

[0088] In this way, users can easily reconfirm the lock after going-out. Accordingly, by using the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention, uneasiness of users when it is uncertain whether locking has been done or not can be greatly reduced. In case of going-out in a hurry, users are deaf to the notification of the confirmed time. In other words, it may occur that locking and the lock confirmation will be made unconsciously. In such a case the reconfirming function of the lock-confirmation supporting device is very reliable to users.

[0089]FIG. 15 is a flow chart of reset operation of the lock-confirmation supporting device according to the present invention.

[0090] For instance, such reset operation is done in case it is unnecessary to unlock because an inmate has already returned home. Namely, when a reset signal is input, a safety check-confirming supporting device initiates the reset operation program. When CPU 11 detects the reset signal (501), it makes the reset operation (502). When the reset operation is completed, CPU 11 terminates the reset program. Usually, the reset signal is input by a manual switch. Needless to say, it may be possible to reset automatically. For example, the reset signal may be generated by sensing the predetermined time, e.g. 0:00 of a clock circuit 16.

[0091] Next, referring to FIGS. 16 to 18, the embodiment as shown in functional block diagram of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention will be explained.

[0092] The feature of the lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 16 is its simple structure.

[0093] That is to say, a lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 16 uses a key-taken out or key-returned sensing means 33 as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. The device comprises a real time clock means 30 for measuring time, a memory means 31 for storing various kinds of information, an information means 32 for informing various kinds of messages, a key-taken out or key-returned sensing means 33 for generating a key-taken out or key-returned signal S by sensing the moment when the user takes the key out of the key holder or returned it thereto, a first confirmed time-informing control means 36 for making the memory means 31 store the real time measured by the real time clock means 30 as the confirmed time upon the key-returned signal S1, and for controlling the information means 32 to inform the user of the confirmed time, a reconfirming signal means 38 for inputting reconfirming signal S5, a second confirmed time-informing control means 39 for making the information means 32 inform again the confirmed time read out of the memory means 31 upon the reconfirming signal S5, and a real time-informing control means 41 for making the information means 32 inform the user of the real time measured by the real time clock means 30.

[0094] The feature of the lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 17 is to inform a lock-calling message.

[0095] That is to say, a lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 17 uses a key-returned sensing means 35 as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. The device comprises a real time clock means 30 for measuring time, a memory means 31 for storing various kinds of information, an information means 32 for informing various kinds of messages, a key-taken out sensing means 34 for generating a key-taken out signal S1 by sensing the moment when the user takes the key out of the key holder, a calling message informing control means 37 for making the information means 32 inform the user of a lock-calling message read from the memory means 31 upon the key-taken out signal S1, a key-returned sensing means 35 for generating a key-returned signal S2, by sensing the moment when the user returns the key return to the key holder, a first confirmed time-informing control means 36 for making the memory means 31 store the real time measured by the real time clock means 30 as the confirmed time upon the key-returned signal S1, and for controlling the information means 32 to inform the user of the confirmed time, a reconfirming signal means 38 for inputting reconfirming signal S5, a second confirmed time-informing control means 39 for making the information means 32 inform the user of the confirmed time read out of the memory means 31 upon the reconfirming signal S5, and a real time-informing control means 41 for making the information means 32 inform the user of the real time measured by the real time clock means 30.

[0096] In FIG. 17, the signal to start the lock-calling operation is the key-taken out signal S1.

[0097] The feature of the lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 18 is to inform a check confirmation calling message with respect to a safety check confirmation of gas, electricity, fastening the doors, etc., of the house or of a check confirmation of the personal effects and to store and inform the confirmed time when a check confirmation signal and a locking sound signal are input.

[0098] That is to say, a lock-confirmation supporting device as shown in FIG. 18 uses a locking sound sensing means 40 as a lock-confirmed signal generating means. The device comprises a real time clock means 30 for measuring time, a memory means 31 for storing various kinds of information, an information means 32 for informing various kinds of messages, a key-taken out sensing means 34 for generating a key-taken out signal S1 by sensing the moment when the user takes the key out of the key holder portion, a calling message informing control means 37 for making the information means 32 inform the user of a lock-calling message read from the memory means 31 upon the key-taken out signal S1, a check-confirmed signal input means 42 for inputting a check-confirmed signal S4 representing that the check confirmation has been made, a locking sound sensing means 40 for generating a locking sound signal S3 by sensing a locking sound, a first confirmed time-informing control means 36 for making the memory means 31 store the real time measured by the real time clock means 30 as the confirmed time upon both of the locking sound signal S3 and the check-confirmed signal S4 and for controlling the information means 32 to inform the user of the confirmed time, a reconfirming signal means 38 for inputting reconfirming signal S5, a second confirmed time-informing control means 39 for making the information means 32 inform the user of the confirmed time read out of the memory means 31 upon the reconfirming signal S5, and a real time-informing control means 41 for making the information means 32 inform the user of the real time measured by the real time clock means 30.

[0099] In FIG. 18, the signal to start the lock-calling operation is the key-taken out signal S1.

[0100] As contrasted functional block diagrams of FIGS. 16 through 18 with block diagrams of FIGS. 1 through 3 and perspective views of FIGS. 4 through 7, the key-taken out or key-returned sensing means 33 corresponds to the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. Also the key-taken out sensing means 34 and the key-returned sensing means 35 correspond to the key-taken out or key-returned sensor 4. The locking sound sensing means 40 corresponds to the locking sound sensor 5. The reconfirming signal input means 38 corresponds to the reconfirming switch 7. The check confirmation signal input means 42 corresponds to the check confirmation switch 23.

[0101] The real time clock means 30 corresponds to the clock timer circuit 16. The information means 32 corresponds to the display means consisting of the display unit driving circuit 17 and the liquid crystal display unit 18 and the sound information means consisting of the speaker 20 and the compound sound generating circuit 19. The memory means 31 is constituted of ROM 12 and ROM 13. The first confirmed time-informing control means 36, the calling message informing control means 37, the second confirmed time-informing control means 39 and the real time-informing control means 41 are each constituted of CPU 11 and ROM 12.

[0102] Although the lock-calling message is given by the embodiments of the announcement through the speaker, or the display of letters, numerals, image characters on the liquid crystal display, or both of them, it is possible to use brink of light, buzzer sound, vibration, and so on. It is also possible to use the brink of light, buzzer sound, vibration, and so on, instead of confirmed time at the reconfirmation.

[0103] In the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention, as the function for informing the real time of the electronic clock portion is accomplished by the real time clock means 30, the information means 32 and the real time-informing control means 41, the real time informing function itself has no direct relation to the present invention. Accordingly, the detailed explanation of the function is omitted.

[0104] Obviously from the detailed explanation so far, the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention is characterized by the following points:

[0105] The first, at the time of the locking, the lock-confirmation supporting device helps the user to do the lock confirmation with using the senses of a human being more securely, because the lock-confirmation supporting device makes the display and/or the speaker inform the user of the real time measured by the electronic clock as the confirmed time at the time right after the lock operation.

[0106] The second, after being locked, the lock reconfirmation can be easily made, because the lock-confirmation supporting device makes the display and/or the speaker inform the user of the confirmed time stored in the RAM.

[0107] The third, the lock confirmation supporting device of the present invention is inexpensive, because it has no expensive and complex operation sensors such as the electronic, mechanical or electro-mechanical lock-sensing means which are used in the conventional lock-confirmation devices.

[0108] The fourth, the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention can be widely applied to different kinds of keys in shapes and sizes including those which are popularly used for locks attached to doors of houses and cars.

EFFECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0109] By making use of the lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention, it has greatly become possible for users to reduce their uneasiness, in case they are not certain whether locking has been done or not. By making use of another lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention having further function for safety check-calling, it has greatly become possible for users to reduce their uneasiness, in case they are not certain whether they have made safety check or not. Furthermore, in case of applying a lock-confirmation supporting device of the present invention to a key system of a car, it is very convenient for the users to use the lock-confirmed time as the starting time of parking at a toll parking lot.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7262691Jun 2, 2004Aug 28, 2007Omron CorporationMechanical security system, control device, remote annunciator, control method and control program, computer-readable recording medium recording control program
US7596977 *Feb 13, 2004Oct 6, 2009Valeo Securite HabitacleKey housing
US7681422 *Jan 11, 2008Mar 23, 2010Tonaltzin Jennifer AGift box apparatus and method therefor
US8085125 *Aug 16, 2008Dec 27, 2011Nima Bigdely-ShamloMethod, apparatus, and system for an electronic key usage history indicator
US20110220521 *Mar 15, 2010Sep 15, 2011Andre Joseph ParkerSecure Multi-Key Holding Device
WO2009136735A2 *May 6, 2009Nov 12, 2009Gyeong Ju KwonKey holder
Classifications
U.S. Classification70/456.00R
International ClassificationE05B19/00, A45C11/32, G07C11/00, A47G29/10, G07C1/32, E05B19/22
Cooperative ClassificationE05B19/22, G07C9/00896, G07C1/32, G07C2009/00936, A45C11/32
European ClassificationG07C9/00E20, A45C11/32, G07C1/32, E05B19/22