Apple wins a Patent for a Major Modular Wall Unit System that automatically configures Smart Homes & Buildings
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a "Modular Wall Unit System" that could automatically configure a smart home or building.
Configuring the smart home can present many challenges. For instance, the differentiation of brands and their incompatibilities between each other, differing connection and communication protocols, wiring and connector types, hardware/software configurations, and general system set up can be daunting to the average consumer.
Even technology savvy enthusiasts may be challenged by the non-intuitive and often frustratingly laborious process of configuring a fully integrated smart home. Furthermore, smart home networks often need to be reconfigured, sometimes extensively, as old equipment is replaced with new equipment. Despite the many advantages that smart home technology brings to society, there is a need for smart home systems that can allow lay-consumers to more easily customize, scale, and reconfigure their homes in a more effortless and user-friendly manner.
Modular Wall Unit System
A Basic Overview of Apple's Patent
As a general non-limiting overview of Apple's invention, certain embodiments can relate to a modular and configurable system for a building (e.g., residential, commercial, or industrial site) that can automatically and dynamically configure a smart building (e.g., smart home) environment as modular accessories are added and removed from the system.
One of the core elements of the system includes a host unit and modular accessory. The host unit (e.g., see 200 in FIG. 2A directly below) can be embedded within (or coupled to) a structure of a building such as a wall, floor, or ceiling, and integrated with the electrical infrastructure of the home (e.g., electrical power grid, cable/Ethernet network, etc.).
The modular accessory (e.g., see FIGS. 5A-5D), such as a power outlet, light switch, sensor device, etc., can be configured to be interchangeably and non-destructively coupled and decoupled with the host unit. Once coupled, the system can automatically authenticate and configure (sometimes referred to as bootstrapping) the modular accessory by, for example, coupling AC power and/or Ethernet access to the accessory and configuring the setup and operation of the modular accessory in the smart home environment, which can include setting modular accessory control schemes (e.g., functionality and user control hierarchy) and the like.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,951,434. You could also check out our original patent application report here with more patent figures.