The present invention relates to a receiver unit for a radio signal-based mail delivery unit comprising a transmitter unit for mounting on a mailbox or mail slot flap, and such receiver unit for being located at a distance from the transmitter unit, which receiver unit is provided with a receiver for receiving a radio signal and with means to indicate that such radio signal has been received.
Such receiver unit is known from U.S. Pat. No. 4,872,210 that teaches a cordless mail delivery system for use in connection with a mailbox of American type. The mail delivery system comprises a transmitter unit that is mounted on the interior side of the mailbox flap and provided with a switch that registers when the flap is opened. As a consequence of that, a radio signal is transmitted to a receiver unit located elsewhere. The receiver unit shown in this disclosure is provided with a sound generator that is activated when the receiver unit receives a signal from the transmitter unit, and besides a light diode is switched on; thereby enabling the user to see that something has been delivered to the mailbox, even if he has not heard the sound. The receiver unit is also provided with a reset button that will, when pressed, cause the receiver unit to revert to its starting position.
Corresponding receiver units are known from the mail delivery systems taught In U.S. Pat. No. 5,023,595 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,046,675.
These prior art receiver units are configured for emitting a sound as well as a light signal when they receive a radio signal from a transmitter unit mounted in connection with the flap of the mailbox. Whether the user hears the sound signal will depend on his being in the vicinity when it is emitted. If the user is not around, he is not informed that something has been delivered to his mailbox until he sees the visual marking on the receiver unit, eg in the form of a lamp that is lit Albeit this marking tells the user that the flap of the mailbox has been activated, It does not tell anything about the hour of the activation, ie the time when something was delivered to the mailbox.
It has been found, however, that the time when something was delivered to the mailbox is generally a point of much interest to the user. If for instance, the user is walking-impaired, it is crucial to known when—on a daily basis—the can expect delivery to his mailbox to save him fruitless trips to the receiver unit for checking it. By the prior art mail delivery systems it is possible only to estimate the expected hour of delivery by checking the receiver unit during a period of several days and at short intervals and subsequently make a note of when the check was performed that revealed that something was delivered to the mailbox Obviously this method is unsuitable for individuals with a walking-impairment.
There are also users that subscribe ia to a morning paper and where the subscription gives the customer the right to have the newspaper for free if it arrives later than a given time. If the user is not up and verifies whether the newspaper has arrived on time, he may—when later he gets up—merely ascertain that the newspaper has arrived. However, he cannot know whether he should be entitled to have precisely today's newspaper for free, and the prior art receiver units give no indication to that effect.
These needs exist not only in the context of mailboxes that are located outside the house, but also in case of mail slots located eg in a front door or an outer wall.
It is the object of the present invention to provide a receiver unit for a mail delivery system as featured in the introductory part, said receiver unit drawing the attention of the user to the fact that mail has arrived and to the hour when a signal was received from a transmitter unit.
This is obtained by the receiver unit described above being provided with a clock; by configuring the receiv r unit to register the hour of receipt of the radio signal; and by the means for indicating that a radio signal has been received comprising a visual and/or audible notice of the hour of receipt of the radio signal.
Hereby it is obtained that, in addition to being informed that the mailbox or the mail slot flap has been activated, information Is also given about the time of that activation. Now the user can use this information eg to learn when delivery of mail, trade circulars, newspapers, etc, takes place, but also to use this information in support of a complaint, if any, of a newspaper being delivered too late.
The receiver unit can be provided with a display that will, in the starting position, show the current hour of the day, it being configured to display, upon receipt of a radio signal, the hour of receipt of the radio signal simultaneously with a symbol to indicate that a radio signal was received. Such symbol could be eg a depiction of an envelope or a text that says that the mail has been delivered.
Preferably the hour of receipt of the radio signal and the symbol that indicates that a radio signal was received alternates which contributes to capturing the users attention that something has been delivered to the mailbox or through the mail slot.
According to an alternative embodiment the receiver unit is provided with a display that will, In the starting position, show the current hour of the day, it being configured for displaying, upon receipt of a radio signal and by use of flashing digits, the time of receipt of the radio signal.
According to a third embodiment the receiver unit is provided with a first display that will, in the starting position, show the current hour of the day, it being configured, upon receipt of a radio signal, to show a textual notice whereas a second display is configured to show the hour of receipt of the radio signal.
By these various embodiments, different ways are thus provided of visually displaying that the mailbox or mail slot flap has been activated as well as the hour when the activation took place.
Preferably the receiver unit is provided with a reset button that is configured such that activation thereof causes the functions of the receiver unit to revert to their starting positions. Alternatively or as a supplement the transmitter unit used in combination with the receiver unit could be provided with a reset button that will, via radio signals, see to it that the functions of the receiver unit revert to the starting position.
According to a preferred embodiment, the receiver unit is provided with a sound generator that is configured for emitting a sound signal upon receipt of a radio signal, and means are preferably configured for adjusting the volume of the sound generator and a display is arranged that is able to show the volume set. The volume can be adapted Individually and the sound can optionally be switched off altogether.
In a particularly sophisticated version the receiver unit is configured with means that enable programming of special sound effects. Besides, a sophisticated version of the receiver unit can be configured with means that enable that statistical data about hours of receipt of radio signals can be transmitted to an external it, such as a personal computer. These means comprise electronics in the receiver unit that are capable, on the one hand, of recording and storing sound affects and statistical data and, on the other, are capable of communicating with external units. A receiver unit configured with such means provide the user with further options for adapting the receiver unit in accordance with his wishes and also enables extraction and further processing of statistical data concerning the delivery of mail, trade circulars, newspapers, etc.
According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the integral clock is radio controlled, whereby the hour is always correct, at least in the areas where this service is available.
In the preferred embodiment the receiver unit is provided with an internal antenna for receiving a radio signal from a transmitter unit In particular cases where the transmitter/receiver conditions are poor, however, it may be provided with an external antenna for receiving the radio signals.
This external antenna can be located at a distance from the receiver unit as such, and the two can be connected to each other by means of an antenna cord or cordlessly. This embodiment is of particular interest, if there is a very long distance between the transmitter unit and the receiver unit; or in case the transmitter unit is configured for transmitting with very little output.