Monday, March 25, 2013

The Story of a Patent

We integrated telecommunications and informatics
by Claude C.

It was the mid-1990s, and there was an opportunity for our team to work with the United States Post Office. Along with two other engineers, I travelled to the Philadelphia postal distribution center to learn about its objectives. It was clear they were about to embark on a major effort to acquire technology that would allow them to offer electronically certified mail and advanced material handling system to speed up sorting, transport and delivery. It would provide route management, vehicle data and operator safety for the delivery fleet.

I was tasked to provide the program R&D. I helped design a small handheld computer with bar code reader, and I integrated it with radio and GPS. We also developed software. I acquired a micro cellular station, FCC license, and we operated over an area of five miles around the plant as if we were a cellular company. A master console in the lab displayed a map showing vehicle location in real time. We could select the vehicle and send two-way messages. Sensors on the system can detect an emergency.

I wrote the invention disclosure for the Vehicle Information and Safety Control System, which was granted in 2000 as US 6,154,658. Many people refer to it as the ‘On-Star’ patent for its ability to sense an emergency and send an automated voice or data message. It has become the basis of the telematics field and is referenced by 250 other patents. 

The patent was granted in 2000.