Browse Prior Art Database

Region Lock for Embedded Devices

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000249173D
Publication Date: 2017-Feb-08
Document File: 4 page(s) / 137K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Michael Wahler: INVENTOR [+3]

Abstract

There are a lot of embedded devices such as PLCs, controllers, or IEDs to different markets. Each market has its own specificities regarding safety requirements, temperature ranges, or operation voltages. Thus, ABB can build cheaper ("low-end") devices for less demanding markets, whereas more strict markets require more expensive ("high-end") devices. However, the companies of the embedded devices often sell to distributors and system integrators that operate world-wide. Thus, it can happen that these entities use low-end devices for markets where high-end devices should or must be used, which may lead to safety problems and a lower margin for companies providing not only the low-end but also the high-end devices. This invention solves the problem of using embedded devices in wrong markets by adding region lock mechanisms that issue warnings or even refuse operation when used in the wrong market.

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Dokumentenart/Type of document

Invention Disclosure

Klassifizierung/Classification

Ablageinformation (Reg.-Nr/Dateiname)/Inform. for filing

ABB Ref.: CH-1522501

Ort/Pl. von Abt./from Dept verfasst von Hr./Fr./Frl./from Mr./Mrs./Miss Tel. int./Phone Datum/Date Seiten/Pages

CH-RD.C5 Michael Wahler Thomas Locher Sebastian Obermeier

2017-02-06

Region Lock for Embedded Devices

1. Background How things worked before the invention

There are a lot of embedded devices such as PLCs, controllers, or IEDs to different markets. Each market has its own specificities regarding safety requirements, temperature ranges, or operation voltages. Thus, the manufactures can build cheaper (“low-end”) devices for less demanding markets, whereas more strict markets require more expensive (“high-end”) devices. However, the manufactures of the embedded devices often sell to distributors and system integrators that operate world-wide. Thus, it can happen that these entities use low-end devices for markets where high-end devices should or must be used, which may lead to safety problems and a lower margin for manufactures providing not only the low-end but also the high-end deivces.

2. Problem Description Explain the problem that the invention solves. If applicable, explain how the competition solves the problem.

This invention solves the problem of using embedded devices in wrong markets by adding region lock mechanisms that issue warnings or even refuse operation when used in the wrong market. To the best of our knowledge, the conventional approaches do not employ any (automated) mechanism to address this issue.

3. Novel Features How does the invention differ from anything done? • Embedded devices that implement this invention are able to detect where they operate. • They can match this location information with a list of valid locations, which is stored

securely in the embedded device. The list can be modified in various ways, e.g., during manufacturing by ABB, during commissioning by ABB or the integrator, or during operation. Possible workflows include

o modification by ABB when creating the device o modification by ABB using remote login into the device o modification by the integrator or customer after having received a special unlock

code from ABB o never, thus preventing any modification

• If there is a location mismatch, the device can either o issue a warning, o refuse operation, o disable a subset of its features, o notify authorities, o or a combination of the measures listed above.

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4. Business Benefits How does the invention make things better – is it faster, cheaper, safer, etc. • ABB devices cannot be used in an unsafe way, which results in higher customer acceptance

and reduced number of lawsuits. • Pricing for ABB devices can be optimized based on country, which lead to higher margins for

certain countries. • Customers who behave in a non-compliant way can be identified. • Re-selling or re-importing...