Title:
UNIVERSAL TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SENSOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tire pressure monitoring device includes a memory that includes a plurality of selectable communication protocols to govern communication and operation.



Inventors:
Deniau, Jean-christophe (Fenton, MI, US)
Farrell, Brian J. (Troy, MI, US)
Costello, John R. (Rochester Hills, MI, US)
Desai, Tejas B. (Troy, MI, US)
Bigot, Franck (Neutraubling, DE)
Application Number:
12/166626
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
07/02/2008
Assignee:
CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS US, INC. (Auburn Hills, MI, US)
CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE GMBH (Hannover, DE)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60C23/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LABBEES, EDNY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARLSON, GASKEY & OLDS, P.C. (400 WEST MAPLE ROAD SUITE 350, BIRMINGHAM, MI, 48009, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of programming a tire pressure monitoring device comprising: storing a plurality of selectable programs for operating a tire pressure monitoring device within a first memory device; and activating one of the selectable programs for operating the tire pressure monitoring device according to a defined protocol corresponding to the selected program.

2. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the step of activating one of the selectable programs for operating the tire pressure monitoring device comprises loading one of the plurality of selectable programs into a second memory device within the tire pressure monitoring device.

3. The method as recited in claim 2, wherein the first memory device is disposed in a programming device and the method includes the step of communicating the activate one of the selectable programs from the first memory device disposed in the programming device to the second memory device within the tire pressure monitoring device.

4. The method as recited in claim 3, including the step of electrically connecting the programming device with the tire pressure monitoring device for communicating the desired one of the plurality of selectable programs from the programming device to the tire pressure monitoring device.

5. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the step of activating one of the plurality of selectable programs comprises communicating a signal selecting which of the plurality of selectable programs is to control operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

6. The method as recited in claim 5, wherein the programming device transmits a wireless signal for communicating which of the plurality of selectable programs is to govern operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

7. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the first memory device is disposed within the tire pressure monitoring device.

8. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the first memory device is disposed within a programming device separate from the tire pressure monitoring device.

9. The method as recited in claim 1, including the step of deactivating a currently selected one of the plurality of selectable programs and providing for selection of a different one of the plurality of selectable programs.

10. A tire pressure monitoring device comprising: a memory device storing a plurality of selectable communication protocols; a transmitter/receiver for communicating information to an outside device; and a sensor for measuring at least one parameter indicative of conditions within a tire.

11. The tire pressure monitoring device as recited in claim 11, wherein the transmitter/receiver is configured to receive a signal for selecting which of the plurality of selectable communication protocols governs operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

12. The tire pressure monitoring device as recited in claim 11, wherein the signal for selecting which of the plurality of selectable communication protocols governs operation of the tire pressure monitoring sensor comprises a wireless signal.

13. The tire pressure monitoring device as recited in claim 11, wherein the plurality of selectable communication protocols comprises communication protocols corresponding to at least two different desired communication schemes.

14. A tire pressure monitoring system comprising: at least one tire pressure monitoring devices mountable within a vehicle tires; and a programming device for instructing the tire pressure monitoring device which of a plurality of selectable communications protocols will govern operation.

15. The system as recited in claim 14, wherein the plurality of selectable communication protocols are stored within a memory device of the at least one tire pressure monitoring device.

16. The system as recited in claim 15, wherein the programming device is configured to send a wireless signal to the tire pressure monitoring device for selecting which of the plurality of selectable communication protocols will govern operation of the tire pressure monitoring sensor.

17. The system as recited in claim 14, wherein the plurality of selectable communication protocols are stored within a memory device of the programming device.

18. The system as recited in claim 17, wherein the programming device includes an interface adapted for communicating on of the plurality of selectable communication protocols that will govern operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

19. A computer readable storage medium containing a plurality of computer executable instructions for programming a tire pressure monitoring device, comprising: a first set of instructions storing a plurality of selectable programs for operating a tire pressure monitoring device within a first memory device; and a second set of instructions for activating one of the selectable programs for operating the tire pressure monitoring device according to a defined protocol corresponding to the selected program.

20. The computer readable storage medium as recited in claim 19, wherein the second set of instructions includes instructions controlling the step of communicating the selected one of the programs from the first memory device disposed in the programming device to a second memory device within the tire pressure monitoring device.

21. The computer readable storage medium as recited in claim 19, including instructions for activating one of the plurality of selectable programs by communicating a signal selecting which of the plurality of selectable programs is to control operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

22. The computer readable storage medium as recited in claim 19, including instructions for controlling a transmission of a wireless signal for communicating which of the plurality of selectable programs is to govern operation of the tire pressure monitoring device.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/958,203 which was filed on Jul. 3, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure relates to tire pressure monitoring devices. More particularly, this disclosure relates to a universal tire pressure monitoring device and method that is adaptable for operation according to different manufacture protocols.

A tire pressure monitoring device is typically mounted to a wheel within the tire and transmits information indicative of conditions within the tire. The transmissions and order of information are defined by a defined protocol corresponding to a receiver within the vehicle. Each automobile manufacturer has a unique preferred defined protocol to meet application specific needs and designs.

Disadvantageously, such different and unique protocols require corresponding unique tire pressure monitoring sensors, thereby complicating maintenance and service operations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A disclosed example tire pressure monitoring device includes a memory that is configurable to either hold a plurality of communication protocols or to be flash programmed with a single communication program to govern operation.

An example disclosed tire pressure monitoring device includes a memory that holds several different communication protocols. Each of these communication protocols correspond to each manufacturers preferred communications protocol.

The example disclosed tire pressure monitoring device includes a memory device adapted to store a plurality of different communication protocols. Upon installation of the tire pressure monitoring device, a programming module initiates a signal to each of the tire pressure monitoring devices that selects which communication protocol will govern operation of that tire pressure monitoring device.

Another disclosed example tire pressure device includes a memory that does not include a communications protocol. The tire pressure monitoring device is flash programmed from a programming device including each of the different communication protocols for each of the different original equipment manufacturers. The tire pressure monitoring device is interfaced with the programming device and flash programmed with the desired communication protocol. The programmed tire pressure monitoring devices is then installed within the vehicle tire.

Accordingly, the example tire pressure monitoring devices are capable of operating with different systems and operating according to different communications protocols.

These and other features of the present invention can be best understood from the following specification and drawings, the following of which is a brief description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of an example universal tire pressure monitoring system.

FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of another example universal tire pressure monitoring system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, a tire pressure monitoring system 10 is shown assembled within a vehicle 12. The system 10 includes a receiver 16 that receives communications from tire pressure monitoring devices 14 assembled within each of the vehicle's tires 18. As is understood by those skilled in the art, each of the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 are assembled within the tires 18 and communicate information indicative of conditions within the tires 18 to the receiver 16. These conditions include temperature, pressure, and any other desired information that aids in the monitoring of tire conditions.

The example system 10 includes the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 that all include a memory device 26. The memory device 26 is utilized for the storage of a plurality of communication protocols 28. The communication protocols 28 include individual and unique protocols that govern operation and communication between the tire pressure monitoring device 14 and the receiver 16. Because each tire pressure monitoring device 14 includes several desired communication protocols for different manufacturers, all that is required is that the tire pressure monitoring device 14 be installed within the tire 18. Once the tire pressure monitoring device 14 is installed with the tire 18, one of the plurality of communication protocols 28 is selected to govern operation and communication.

Selection of a desired one of the communication protocols is accomplished through the use of a programming device 20. The example programming device 20 emits a wireless signal 22 that is received by a corresponding one of the tire pressure monitoring devices 14. The programming device 20 includes a series of selectable buttons 24 that are actuated by an operator to indicate which of the several communication protocols is desired for that tire pressure monitoring device to operate. Although the example device 20 is shown with buttons, other display and selection configurations, such as touch screen or other selection interface are within the contemplation of this invention.

Accordingly, installation of the example universal tire pressure monitoring devices 14 includes the initial step of physically installing the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 within each of the corresponding tires 18. At this step in the installation process, no communication protocol selection is required. This is so because each of the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 has stored within it all of the desired communication protocols 28 required for communicating with any of several original equipment receivers 15.

Once the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 are physically installed within each of the tires 18, the programming device 20 is actuated. The programming device is placed proximate each of the tire pressure monitoring devices 14 to send a signal 22. The example signal 22 is a low frequency transmission received by the proximate tire pressure monitoring device 14. The signal 22 triggers the tire pressure monitoring device to operate according to a selected one of the stored communication protocols 28. For example, in this instance, if the operator selects button number one, the corresponding tire pressure monitoring device 14 will operate according to the stored communication protocol 28 indicated as 1. The tire pressure monitoring device 14 can be reclaimed and the communication protocol reset by deactivating a currently selected one of the plurality of selectable communication protocols 28 and selecting a different one of the plurality of selectable programs 28.

Of course it is within the contemplation of this invention that the controller may include other control operations not just the buttons 24 indicated in the illustrated example. Further, it is also within the contemplation of this invention that the programming device 20 may utilize other wireless communication protocols to communicate and trigger the selection of the desired communication protocol in which the corresponding tire pressure monitoring device 14 would operate.

Referring to FIG. 2, another example tire pressure monitoring system 32 utilizes a tire pressure monitoring device 34 that includes a memory 40. The memory 40 of the tire pressure monitoring device 34 does not include any communication protocol data. Instead, the memory 40 is provided with a space for a communications protocol. The tire pressure monitoring device 34 with the blank memory 40 is in essence a blank slate as indicated by 42. The blank tire pressure monitoring device 42 is inserted within a programming device 36. The programming device 36 includes a memory device 38 that stores the plurality of communication protocols 28. The tire pressure monitoring device 34 is placed into electrical communication by way of an interface with the programmer 36. The programmer 36 is then actuated to download or flash program one of the communication protocols 28 from the memory device 38 into the memory device 40 of the tire pressure monitoring device. This step is accomplished prior to installation into the vehicle 12.

Accordingly, each tire pressure monitoring device 34 that is to be assembled into a vehicle is first flash programmed using the programming device 36 to install and select a desired communication protocol 28. The tire pressure monitoring device is thereby set and capable of operation only according to that flash programmed communication protocol. Programmed tire pressure monitoring devices 34 are indicated as being programmed by reference numeral 44, can then be installed within the vehicle 12 to operate with the specific vehicle receiver 16.

During the installation process of the example system illustrated in FIG. 2, a plurality of blank tire pressure monitoring devices 34 would be available for flash programming upon the desired need. The example non-programmed tire pressure monitoring devices are indicated at 42. Prior to installation within the vehicle 12, each tire pressure monitoring device 34 is loaded with a program by the programming device 36. The example interface between the programming device 36 and the tire pressure monitoring device 34 is a physical connection. However, wireless connections could also be utilized for loading the desired communication protocol into the tire pressure monitoring device 34. The programmed tire pressure monitoring devices indicated at 44 can then be installed within the vehicle 12.

It should be understood that a computing device can be used to implement various functionality and operation of the example programming devices 20, and 36. In terms of hardware architecture, such a computing device can include a processor, a memory, and one or more input and/or output (I/O) device interface(s) that are communicatively coupled via a local interface. The local interface can include, for example but not limited to, one or more buses and/or other wired or wireless connections. The processor may be a hardware device for executing software, particularly software stored in memory. The processor can be a custom made or commercially available processor, a central processing unit (CPU), an auxiliary processor among several processors associated with the computing device, a semiconductor based microprocessor (in the form of a microchip or chip set) or generally any device for executing software instructions.

The memory can include any one or combination of volatile memory elements (e.g., random access memory (RAM, such as DRAM, SRAM, SDRAM, VRAM, etc.)) and/or nonvolatile memory elements (e.g., ROM, hard drive, tape, CD-ROM, etc.). Moreover, the memory may incorporate electronic, magnetic, optical, and/or other types of storage media. Note that the memory can also have a distributed architecture, where various components are situated remotely from one another, but can be accessed by the processor.

The software in the memory may include one or more separate programs, each of which includes an ordered listing of executable instructions for implementing logical functions. When constructed as a source program, the program is translated via a compiler, assembler, interpreter, or the like, which may or may not be included within the memory.

Accordingly, the example tire pressure monitoring devices 14, 34 and programming devices 20, 36 provide a system and device capable of operating according to different communication protocols.

Although a preferred embodiment of this invention has been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of this invention. For that reason, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of this invention.