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Using short-range radio to locate out-of-sight sockets on equipment Disclosure Number: IPCOM000200327D
Publication Date: 2010-Oct-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a method for locating out-of-sight sockets on electronic or other equipment using short-range radio systems. The signal strength of the radio signal is used to determine the distance of the plug from the socket and feedback is provided to the user to help them find the socket. Examples are given of implementations based around Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Radio-Frequency ID (RFID) tags. Examples of user-feedback using audio, visual and haptic mechanisms are provided.

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Using short-range radio to locate out-of-sight sockets on equipment

Electronic equipment such as amplifiers, telephony equipment and rack-mounted hardware often have large numbers of sockets in inaccessible locations (e.g. at the rear of the device).

    Users of such devices find it hard to connect cables to the appropriate sockets. There are two separate, but related, issues with connecting the cables:

Locating the correct socket on the equipment. There may be several identical


socket types on the same equipment (e.g. a television may have multiple SCART sockets)

Orientating the plug correctly to fit the socket


    The existing solution to getting the orientation right is having asymmetric plugs that only fit one way. However, brute force will usually allow an asymmetric plug to fit the socket, to some degree, often damaging the connections.

    The only solutions for issue 1 are either to find the plug by feel or to move the equipment.

    The core idea is to use radio signal strength to determine the proximity of the plug to the socket, and provide feedback to the user to guide them to the socket.

    Using multiple RFID or NFC elements allows the orientation of the plug to be determined.

  For the proximity detection, the following components are required:
One or more Near-Field Communications (NFC) transmitters located on, or near,


the device with the sockets

Passive or active receiver on or near the plug to be connected


A mechanism for providing feedback to the user


  NFC is appropriate because of its short range and spatial resolution: Near-Field Communications:

                         Communication (range ~ 20cm) "the signal strength [of NFC] drops off at a rate of about 1/d6, where d is the distance or range. " (The sharp roll-off of NFC signal strength provides a high degree of spatial r...