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Technology Foresight and Preparation: A Patent Story

John Driver

Posted by John Driver

John Driver is Chairman and CEO at LynxTechnology.

July 30, 2020

If we had a crystal ball that could predict the future of technology, what would it tell us? Most likely, it’ll be an iteration of technology from patent applications currently in progress.

Without a crystal ball, we have the benefit of time and hindsight.Lynx Crystal Ball

A year ago, who would have predicted that our world would be turned upside down with the pandemic?

Last month, we wrote a post about our observations to date: In summary, the bad news is that the Internet was (is?) on the verge of “breaking.” The good news is with new technology and solutions like Lynx’s device adaptation technology, we are helping to avoid this. Options for IPv6, Wi-Fi 6 in-home networks, and tri-band routers are supporting the move to remote work and school.

When new standards and technologies were being developed, no one could foresee what the world would look like when they actually launched. IPv6 took decades and Wi-Fi 6 took years.

So, we find ourselves in an interesting vantage point as we look back to our own patent application: we filed a US provisional application on Jan 5, 2018, and the US Patent office issued an official patent on June 2, 2020. Now, we are happy to announce that our patent number 10,671,463 is a unique way of efficiently managing system resources when a system or device (e.g. a smart home hub, residential gateway/cable modem, Wi-Fi router, etc.) executes rules to control other Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices (e.g. “smart” lights, locks and thermostats). What gave us the foresight to know how important this development would be? Observation, experience, and history. Similar to how the people working on IPv6 and Wi-Fi 6 knew that one day their technology would be essential.

In the last few months alone, we’ve seen houses become smarter, more devices registered to home networks, and connected tech in the home do so much more than stream Netflix, host Zoom videos, and check email.Patent-Pending

This patent technology specifically addresses the problem we now face: how do you handle increasing numbers of increasingly complex smart home rules (such as wake up, go to sleep, on vacation, secure the house) within the inherent constraints that all devices have based on 1) the device processor's power (CPU) and 2) the memory available on the device? The patent comes up with a unique way of addressing this for both software and devices.

In short, the patent for efficient system resource management keeps the user from "breaking the smart home." Remember our previous discussion of breaking the internet? We’ve tackled the internet challenge, but until now the smart home was left on its own.

Imagine this:

Over time, a household adds more and more devices

AND

Adds more and more rules to control those devices

AND

There are multiple household members adding devices and rules, all the time.

The rules engine’s job is to identify different smart home devices and determine how and when those devices may be used in rules. But, rules take up processing power when run and the space to store them. If household members start adding additional/new rules or edits to existing rules, this will tax the system and there’s a high probability that the rules won’t execute quickly - if at all. But, we can’t leave up to the user to NOT add rules. How do we make the device smart enough to know what it is able to handle or not handle?

This process is not sustainable without a way to manage system resources. No user should be expected to know if the smart home hub/gateway/Wi-Fi router can handle this onslaught of requests. Who (or what) is responsible?Smart home control devices tablet smartphone on a table with coffee

This patent technology has a simple and elegant way to check "on the fly" after every rule is added: can the processor handle it? Is there enough memory? Is the device smart enough? Does it have enough memory? Aside from functionality, we understand that device manufacturers are concerned about putting “too much” on their boxes and taxing the systems, especially their processing power and memory. So how do we deal with the addition of rules? If it determines that the rule is just too much (the straw that breaks the camel’s back), it has a unique way of taking that "straw" off and making the rule work anyway. The patent technology allows for a dual-approach: do what you can on the box, move the rest to the cloud. And, this patent technology does this all without compromising the device or taxing system resources.

This patent technology understands that there are device constraints and manufacturers have the ability to administer limitations. When a household user adds a rule or changes a rule, the patent technology decides in the moment if the system has the resources for the rule to be saved and successfully executed. If it encounters a problem (it is unable to run or add the rule) it simply moves the rule into the cloud. No intervention needed. The user’s rule is saved and it works. No need to reboot the system or reconfigure resources. It just does what it needs to do off-device.

We know some devices and applications are clearly higher priority than others. Many of the changes to our lives we’ve seen will become permanent, out of necessity, health, or convenience. Cloud usage is at an all-time high and safer than ever. Time moves us forward: ten days or ten years from now when homes are even smarter, there will be a demand for higher and better network performance.

And the smart home rules and device memory management patent technology that was only a dream in 2018 will be a reality to help our future lives.

The dream we had of devices cooperating and being good citizens on a robust home network without overtaxing resources is coming true. One patent at a time. We are thrilled to be part of this incredible ecosystem. We look forward to working with partners eager to leverage this special process to optimize device resources for future products.

They say when the world is ready, the solution will appear. We think the world is ready, and the granted patent supports our belief that system resource management will be critical in the future of smart homes. Lynx Technology took a major step forward as it realized its technology vision as a defining part of the technology that is changing the way our devices best support our work, education, health, and lifestyle

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