SOFIENER MI (
US 20120078722Al
(19)
United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. N0.: US 2012/0078722 A1
Van Oosterwijck
(43) Pub. Date:
(54) REMOTELY CONTROLLED WATER
TREATMENT SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF
REMOTELY CONTROLLING A WATER
TREATMENT SYSTEM
(52)
Mar. 29, 2012
G06Q 30/06
(2012.01)
G06F 15/16
(2006.01)
US. Cl. .................. .. 705/1458; 709/219; 705/26.41
(75) Inventor:
Patrick Van Oosterwijck, Cottage
Grove, MN (US)
(73)
Assignee:
EcoWater Systems LLC,
woodburys MN (Us)
_
A Water treatment system, such as a Water softener, 1s
(21)
Appl_ No;
13/076,390
remotely operated and a method of remotely controlhng a
Water treatment system. In a ?rst embodiment, the Water
(22)
Filed;
Man 30, 2011
treatment system having a Web server is delivered and
installed on the users LAN. The user PC is redirected by a
remote server to the Water treatment system by use of the
Related US, Application Data
Water treatment system MAC address, IP protocol address
(57)
_ _
(60)
_
_
and user information. In this manner, the user is able to
PrOVlslOnal apphcanon NO' 61/318955’ ?led on Mar'
30’ 2010'
control the Water treatment system and communicate With the
remote server. In a second and third embodiment, the Water
_
_
_
_
treatment system and user PC communicate indirectly via the
Pubhcatlon Classl?catlon
(51)
ABSTRACT
Int, Cl,
G06Q 50/06
G06Q 30/00
remote server. In the second embodiment, the Water treatment
system is provided With a Wireless network interface to
couple to the remote server. In the third embodiment, the
Water treatment system is provided With an internet interface.
(2012,01)
(201 201)
32
42
INTERNET
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WATER SERVER
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SOFIENER MI (
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USER PC
Patent Application Publication
Mar. 29, 2012 Sheet 1 0f 5
2
US 2012/0078722 A1
WATER SERVER
30
FIG. I
: SOFI'EN ER
@
SETUP
SET HARDNESS
SET THE HARDNESS OF THE INCOMING WATER. BASED
ON YOUR ZIP CODE, WE HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE
HARDNESS OF CITY WATER IN YOUR MUNICIPALITY IS I9
GRAINS. IF YOU ARE CONNECTED TO CITY WATER, THIS
VALUE IS MOST LIKELY THE CORRECT HARDNESS OF YOUR
INCOMING WATER.
IF YOU KNOW THE HARDNESS OF YOUR INCOMING
WATER IS DIFFERENT, OR IF YOU USE WELL WATER, PLEASE CHANGE THE HARDNESS
BELOW. IF YOU USE WELL WATER AND DON'T KNOW THE HARDNESS OF THE INCOMINO
WATER, YOU CAN ORDER A HARDNESS TEST KIT TO DETERMINE THE CORRECT VALUE.
HARDNESS 0F mcomms WATER:
[IGRAINS
NEXT>>
FIG. 2
Patent Application Publication
Mar. 29, 2012 Sheet 2 0f 5
US 2012/0078722 A1
SOFI'ENER
@
SETUP
CONTAMINANT ALERT
OUR RECORDS INDICATE THERE IS A CONTAMINANT ALERT FOR
WOODBURY, MN. THE FOLLOWING CONTAMINANTS ARE
KNOWN TO BE PRESENT IN THE MUNICIPAL WATER SOURCE
m
POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS; BIOCHEMICAL OR CELLULAR LEVEL
CHANGES, BIRTH OR DEVELOPMENTAL EFFECTS, BRAIN AND
NERVOUS SYSTEM, CANCER, ORGAN SYSTEM TOXICITY
(NON-REPRODUCT IVE), PERSISTENT AND BIOACCUMULATIVE,
REPRODUCTION AND FERTILITY.
WE RECOMMEND YOU CONSIDER OUR DRINKING WATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS TO
IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF YOUR DRINKING WATER.
NEXT>>
FIG. 3
CUSTOMER
RECORDS
DATA
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FIG. 4
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Patent Application Publication
Mar. 29, 2012 Sheet 3 0f 5
kg
FIG. 6
US 2012/0078722 A1
Patent Application Publication
Mar. 29, 2012 Sheet 4 0f 5
32
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INTERNEI
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ROUTER/MODEM
SOFIENER
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24
FIG. 7
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26 22
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US 2012/0078722 A1
WATER SERVER
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Patent Application Publication
Mar. 29, 2012 Sheet 5 0f 5
32
US 2012/0078722 A1
42
WATER SERVER
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INTERNEI
100
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US 2012/0078722 A1
Mar. 29, 2012
REMOTELY CONTROLLED WATER
TREATMENT SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF
REMOTELY CONTROLLING A WATER
TREATMENT SYSTEM
have been based upon means Which detect the state of exhaus
tion of the resin bed or means Which measure the quantity of
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATION
tion ofthe resin bed are disclosed in US. Pat. Nos. 3,246,759
[0001] This application claims the bene?t of US. provi
sional application No. 61/318,955, ?led Mar. 30, 2010, the
Which utiliZes a means to measure the quantity of Water Which
Water Which has passed through the resin bed since the most
recent regeneration cycle.
[0008]
contents of Which are incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0002] The present invention relates to Water treatment sys
tems in general and, in particular, a Water softener Which is
remotely operated and a method of remotely controlling a
Water softener.
Systems Which attempt to detect the state of exhaus
and 4,257,887. One example of a softening control system
has passed through the bed is disclosed in US. Pat. No.
3,687,289. US. Pat. Nos. 6,456,202 and 6,696,963, both of
Which are incorporated by reference herein, disclose systems
Wherein the status of a Water softener is monitored and pro
vided an indication that salt is loW or that the system requires
servicing. US. Pat. No. 6,085,788 disclose a Water ?oW valve
for controlling the How of Water through a Water softener
system during the various cycles, including the service cycle
and regeneration cycle, and is incorporated herein by refer
ence.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0003] Water softening With ion exchange material, such as
resin particles or the like, is Well knoWn in the art. During the
softening process, typically called the service cycle, the ion
exchange resin particles acquire hardness inducing ions from
raW Water Which is being treated, in exchange for soft ions.
That is, ions Which do not induce hardness to Water. After
continued contact of the resin particles With hard raW Water,
the particles ion exchange capacity is considerably dimin
ished and regeneration of the resin particles must be accom
plished, conventionally by contacting the resin particles With
a brine solution, i.e., an aqueous solution of sodium chloride
or potassium chloride or the like, during a regeneration cycle.
[0004]
The ion exchange process, Which takes place during
the regeneration of the ion exchange material, is accom
plished in a softener or resin tank of Well knoWn construction.
A separate brine tank is conventionally used to form brine for
use during the regeneration cycle. When regeneration is ini
tiated in the softener system, brine draWn from the brine tank
passes through the bed of ion exchange material in the soft
[0009]
further appreciated that the timing and amount of salt
required is a variable. In order to provide uninterrupted ser
vice, it is necessary to anticipate When the salt must be added
and the amount required. In particular, it is advantageous to
have a speci?c amount of salt on hand as necessary. Thus,
typically the user Will be required to monitor the salt level,
either through visual observation of the level of salt or via an
indicator of a salt monitor. Further, it is also necessary for the
user to monitor that the Water softener is operational. Again,
such monitoring may be via visual observation of the Water
softener or via an indicator of a system monitor.
[0010] Further, even before any of the forgoing may be
initiated, it is necessary that the Water softener be installed
and set up at the location of operation. Such installation and
setup may be done the oWner operator or via a person or ?rm
hired to handle such setup. Thereafter, it is necessary to moni
tor and maintain the system.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
ener tank to reverse the exchange of ions and revitaliZe the bed
by removing hardness inducing ions and replacing them With
sodium ions, for example, from the brine.
[0005] The amount of brine Which is required to regenerate
a bed of ion exchange material of a predetermined volume, is
dependent upon the extent to Which the bed is exhausted
during the service cycle. This, in turn, is dependent upon a
number of factors, including: (1) the hardness of the Water
being treated; and (2) the quantity of Water treated during the
service cycle. The cost of operating the softening system may
be reduced by limiting the amount of salt utiliZed in each
regeneration cycle and the frequency of regeneration cycles to
As Will be appreciated from the above, it Will be
necessary to periodically add salt to the brine tank. It Will be
[0011] The present invention provides various embodi
ments for simplifying the setup and ongoing operation and
maintenance of a Water treatment system, such as a Water
softener. In particular, a user or user representative is able to
setup and operate a Water treatment system via the user’s
personal computer or similar device. The interface betWeen
the user’s personal computer and the Water treatment system
is simpli?ed by the present invention.
[0012]
In a ?rst embodiment, a Water softener is provided
With a Web server and a media access control address (MAC
[0006] Historically, most Water softeners are designed to
regenerate on a predetermined timed cycle Which is deter
address). The MAC address is assigned to the softener by the
manufacturer. A MAC address is unique for any netWork
adapter or netWork interface card. The MAC address typically
resides in a device’s nonvolatile memory and is also usually
mined by taking into consideration the above-mentioned fac
printed on a sticker located on the device.
tors. The Water softening system regenerates itself on the
[0013] The Water softener may be programmed via, or com
municates With, a main server, such as provided by a Water
treatment service provider, and a user’s personal computer or
only that necessary to regenerate the resin particles.
predetermined time cycle even if the Water softening system
is subjected to either an abnormally high or loW usage during
a particular period of time. In the instance of abnormally loW
similar device. The Web server is capable of communicating
usage, a Waste of salt and Water results. In the instance of
via a local area netWork (LAN) With the intemet, main server
abnormally high usage, the Water softening system is unable
to adequately soften all of the Water passing through the
and the user’s personal computer. The cost of the system may
be reduced Where the local area netWork is provided by the
system.
[0007]
user or customer. The LAN may be Wired or Wireless. A
Many control systems have been proposed to take
router/modem of the LAN may provide the access point for
into account Water usage on a real time basis. Such systems
the Web server of the Water softener. In a Wireless LAN
US 2012/0078722 A1
arrangement, the setup may consist of turning on the Water
softener. The Water softener detects or is otherWise directed to
the user’s Wireless connection and prompts for, or otherWise
is provided, the encryption key, such as Wired equivalent
privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) and IEEE
802.11 i (WPA2). The softener then gets connected to the
router and obtains a local network internet protocol (IP)
address using the dynamic host con?guration protocol
(DHCP). The Water softener is noW able to communicate With
the main server. The Water softener provides the main server
With the MAC address and the then current local netWork IP
address. The Water softener communicates With the main
server Whenever it obtains a neW local netWork IP address,
and provides the neW IP address to the main server, together
Mar. 29, 2012
[0016] Information requested from the user may include
the location of the Water softener. The location of the Water
softener may be used to determine a default setting for Water
hardness and iron levels. Further, the location may be used to
provide messages regarding any knoWn contaminants in the
Water. Further, recommended action may also be provided
such as in the event a contaminant is identi?ed in the source of
Water or in areas adjacent to the Water softener. The location
information is also relevant in the event the main server pro
vides the current time to the softener during setup or after
poWer returns subsequent to a poWer outage.
[0017] Since the user is connected directly to the Water
softener, all changes are implemented immediately and With
out delay. It Will be understood that the ?rst embodiment does
not require that the Water softener poll the main server for
With the constant MAC address. The main server may main
tain a table to keep track of the MAC address and the current
updated information from either the main server or the cus
local IP address. All of the foregoing may be conducted
encryption key.
[0018] Various services may also be offered to the customer
in accordance With the present invention. A service setup
might folloW the Water softener setup. The present invention
[0014]
may offer various levels of services, such as: no service; self
automatically, With the possible exception of providing the
After the Water softener establishes communication
With the main server as described above, the user is instructed
in the user’s manual or on an instruction sheet to direct the
broWser of the user’s personal computer to a particular Web
site. The Web site may be associated With the main server and
the Water treatment service provider. The user may be
required to register or setup an account. The user Will be
prompted to locate and enter the MAC address of the Water
softener. Alternatively, the user may be instructed to point the
user broWser to the URL With the MAC address as an exten
sion of the URL address. The main server Will associate the
MAC address With the user provided information, such as the
user name and address. As suggested above, the MAC address
might be provided on a sticker, label or tag, located on the
Water softener. The main server Will cross reference the MAC
address in the table and obtain the current IP address of the
Water softener. In this Way, the main server is capable of
associating the user With the Water softener located at the user
site. The main server Will then redirect the broWser of the
user’s personal computer to the current IP address of the Water
softener. The user’s broWser is noW directly connected to the
Web server running in the Water softener.
[0015]
With the user’s broWser directly connected to the
Web server, the user may be prompted for various information
for the purpose of providing additional user information,
programming the Water softener, and providing user prefer
ence information. For example, the Water softener might
serve Web pages to the user’s personal computer requesting
such information. By means of the Web forms, the user is noW
tomer.
service; delivery service; and full service. In the event the
customer elects no service, one embodiment provides tWo
sublevels. The ?rst sublevel alloWs the user to proceed With
out setting up an account. The present invention does not
simplify the setup. The user must interface With the softener
in order to setup the softener. It Will be necessary for the user
to enter the softener’s MAC address Whenever the user desires
to change the softener settings. Alternatively, in the second
sublevel, the user may set up an account but selects no service.
In this instance, the present invention is capable of simplify
ing the setup in accordance With the comments above.
[0019] If the user selects the self service, the present inven
tion is capable of simplifying the setup. In addition, the user
may direct that status messages be sent via email or text
messages to a particular email address or SMS number. The
status message might indicate the amount or level of salt
remaining or that there is a system error, for example. Further,
basic Water use statistics may be available to the user.
[0020] In the event the user selects delivery service, a third
party receives the loW salt notice and delivers the salt to the
customer site. In addition, if the softener requires service, a
service person Will be noti?ed automatically. Further, basic or
detailed Water use statistics may be available to the user.
[0021] In the event the user selects full service, addition
ally, a third party loads the salt into the brine tank. The service
person may update the salt level either via the softener user
interface or over the internet. In this instance, the softener
user interface may be omitted for a system cost savings. The
puter in contrast to the typical small screen associated With a
user may specify time slots for delivery.
[0022] It Will be appreciated that the various services may
be administered by the main server. Further, the main server
has the ability, subject to privacy issues, to develop a database
Water softener display. Thus there is much greater ?exibility
of Water statistics for various geographical areas and demo
as to the manner and amount of information presented to the
graphics.
user. The pages may provide graphics, diagrams, embedded
[0023] In addition, if a user elects, detailed Water usage
information or reports may be provided to the user. For
example, the user may be provided With daily Water use over
a month, average hourly Water use, average Water use per day
of the Week. An option may also be provided to the user to
able to perform any con?guration that Would typically be
done on the Water softener faceplate. This system provides the
bene?t of using a larger screen of the user’s personal com
movies or hyperlink to pages resident on the main server or
elseWhere. Further, implementing various languages is easier
as font management is not necessary. The use of HTML
merely requires that the correct language information be sent
and the broWser Will display the information accordingly. It
Will be appreciated that Web pages Will be easily revised and
updated as desired. The updated pages may be provided by
participate in collecting statistical information on Water
usage. The user may bene?t from the knoWledge gained from
the information. Further, additional bene?ts might be offered
the main server to the Water softener.
to the user in return for participating in such information
US 2012/0078722 A1
Mar. 29, 2012
collection. For example, the usage patterns may be used to
adjust the software algorithm used to adjust the reserve capac
ity of the softener to provide soft water for the remaining
include a web browser or similar application or feature. The
phrases web browser and web server are intended to include
portion of the day after the need for a regeneration is signaled.
tion Publication N. 2003/0038839 discloses an example of a
method for a web based service and US. Patent Application
Publication No. 2005/0215244 discloses an example of a
device and method for monitoring a meter, and are both
The user may also elect to participant in automatic online
diagnostic testing and troubleshooting, with the option of
automatically requesting a service visit.
[0024] In systems having a reverse osmosis (RO) ?lter, the
other similar applications, respectively. US. Patent Applica
incorporated herein by reference. In addition, it will be appre
system may advise as to when the RO ?lter or membrane
ciated that the main server or the water softener web server
should be replaced. Similarly, iron ?lters are another example
may include an application programming interface for web
services to allow application software or desktop widgets, or
of water treatment systems which may bene?t from the
present invention.
[0025] It will be appreciated that the water softener may be
controlled by the main server. For example, if the user fails to
comply with the terms of the service contract, the water
softener may be turned off until the user complies with the
terms of the contract. Additionally, if the user unplugs the
internet connection, the water softener will detect such an
occurrence and will respond in accordance with a factory
programmed or default action, such as disabling the regen
eration cycle.
[0026] In a second embodiment, a water softener may be
provided without a web server. The water softener is not
connected to the main server via the LAN. Rather, the water
softener is connected to the main server via a cellular modem
or other wireless network. The cellular modem or other wire
less network is not provided by the user. The user’s PC and
internet connection, such as a router/modem, may be located
at the user softener installation site. However, the user PC and
internet connection may be located elsewhere. It will be
appreciated that in this embodiment, the user is unable to
communicate directly with the water softener via the user’s
web browser. Rather, the user’s PC communicates with the
main server via the user’s web browser to provide the desired
user settings for the water softener. In one embodiment, the
water softener polls the main server for updates from both the
main server and from the user. The second embodiment has
the advantage that it is not dependent on the user’s network.
However, the setup is still simpli?ed for the user.
[0027] In a third embodiment, a water softener is not pro
vided with a web server. The water softener is connected to
the main server via a LAN, such as the user’s router/modem,
or other internet connection. The user’s PC and internet con
nection, such as a router/modem, may be located at the user
softener installation site and, in fact, may be the same internet
connection as used by the water softener. However, the user
PC and internet connection may be located elsewhere. It will
be appreciated that in this embodiment, the user is unable to
communicate directly with the water softener via the user’s
web browser. Rather, the user’s PC communicates with the
main server via the user’s web browser to provide the desired
user settings for the water softener. In one embodiment, the
water softener polls the main server for updates from both the
similar feature, to access the relevant data.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
[0030] FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a system including a
water treatment system in accordance with a ?rst embodi
ment of the present invention.
[0031] FIG. 2 depicts a screen shot during a user setup of
the water softener, wherein the user may provide a Zip code in
order to set a default hardness setting based on the location of
the water softener or alternatively to set the hardness level if
known, and further to order a hardness kit if desired.
[0032] FIG. 3 depicts a screen shot of providing a user with
a contaminant alert based on the known location of the water
softener.
[0033] FIG. 4 shows the customer records and other data
which are obtained and maintained by a server, such as shown
in FIG. 1.
[0034] FIG. 5 is a block diagram of the water treatment
system of FIG. 1.
[0035] FIG. 6 is a plan view of a label providing a unique
identi?er.
[0036] FIG. 7 is a block diagram of a system including a
water treatment system in accordance with a second embodi
ment of the present invention.
[0037] FIG. 8 is a block diagram of the water treatment
system of FIG. 7.
[0038] FIG. 9 is a block diagram of a system including a
water treatment system in accordance with a third embodi
ment of the present invention.
[0039] FIG. 10 is a block diagram of the water treatment
system of FIG. 9.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
[0040]
FIG. 1 shows one example of a water treatment
system, in accordance with the above described ?rst embodi
ment. The system of FIG. 1 includes a water softener system
10, having an Ethernet port 12 coupled to the Ethernet port 14
of a combination router/modem 16, via an Ethernet cable 18.
A personal computer 20 includes an Ethernet port 22 coupled
to an Ethernet port 24 of the router/modem 16, via an Ethernet
cable 26. The PC 20 includes web browser software capable
main server and from the user.
of retrieving, presenting, and traversing information
[0028]
resources on the world wide web, as well as accessing infor
In all three embodiments described above, the water
softener may have a universal serial bus (USB) or other inter
face to allow a dealer or other individual to connect a PC
directly to the water softener for communication with or
programming of the water softener, or for downloading of
newer software versions.
[0029]
It will be appreciated that the phrase personal com
puter or PC may include other devices, such as, but not
intended to be limited thereto, a cell phone, internet tablet and
other mobile devices. Further, such devices typically may
mation provided by web servers in private networks.
Examples of such software include INTERNET
EXPLORER, FIREFOX and CHROME. It will be appreci
ated that the router/modem 16 may be coupled to the water
softener system 10 and PC 20 via other interface devices, such
as, but not limited to, a USB or wireless connection, provided
that the water softener system 10 and PC 20 are provided the
appropriate corresponding interface, as is known in the art.
The modem portion of the router/modem 16 may be a DSL
US 2012/0078722 A1
modem or cable modem, or similar device. The combination
router/modem 16 is shown as being couple via a cable 30 to
Mar. 29, 2012
networks. It will be appreciated that the router/modem 16
may be coupled to the PC 20 via other interface devices, such
the internet 32, in a manner as known in the art. The combi
as, but not limited to, a USB or wireless connection, provided
nation router/modem 16 may also be comprised of separate
that the router/modem 16 and PC 20 provide the appropriate
corresponding interface, as is known in the art. The modem
components, rather than the combined system as shown, as is
known in the art.
[0041] In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the water softener
system 10, router/modem 16 and PC 20 are located at the
portion of the router/modem 16 may be a DSL modem or
cable modem, or similar device. The router/modem 16 is
shown as being couple via a cable 30 to the internet 32, in a
customer softener installation site. A server 40 is shown and
is at a location remote from the customer softener installation
manner as known in the art. The combination router/modem
site. The server 40 is capable of communicating over the
internet 32 via a connection 42 which may comprise any one
of various methods as known in the art. Further, the server 40
than the combined system as shown, as is known in the art. In
includes web server software capable of delivering content,
such as web pages, to a client. The content may be delivery of
HTML documents. For example, see the screen shot provided
in FIGS. 2 and 3. Examples of web server software include
MICROSOFT IIS and GOOGLE GWS. The server 40 further
maintains records 44 of customers with various ?elds related
16 may also be comprised of separate components, rather
fact, the router function is not necessarily required in this
embodiment.
[0046] In the embodiment of FIG. 7, a server 40 is shown
and is at a location remote from the customer softener instal
lation site. The server 40 is capable of communicating over
the internet 32 via a connection 42 which may comprise any
one of various methods as known in the art. Further, the server
40 may include web server software capable of delivering
to the customer data, equipment, and services. In addition, the
content, such as web pages, to a client. The content may be
server may maintain other data 46, such as data on water
delivery of HTML documents. For example, see the screen
shots provided in FIGS. 2 and 3.
[0047] FIG. 8 is a block diagram of one example of the
water softener system 70. The water softener system 70 is
hardness in speci?c locations and data regarding water con
tainments identi?ed in speci?c locations. FIG. 4 shows the
customer records 44 and data 46. In addition, the server 40
may be associated with various URLs in a manner as
shown to include a water softener 78 coupled to a control
described above. For example, the URL may be the combi
nation of the service providers home URL and a unique
system 80. The control system 80 and water softener 78 may
identi?er as described herein.
be a unitary system. Alternatively, the control system 80 may
be separate from the water softener 78. In fact, it will be
[0042] FIG. 5 is a block diagram of one embodiment of the
water softener system 10. The water softener system 10 is
appreciated that the control system 80 might take the form of
a personal computer, with the appropriate software installed.
shown to include a water softener 50 coupled to a control
The control system 80 includes a controller 82 and commu
system 52. The control system 52 and water softener 50 may
nications interface device 84. The controller 82 includes soft
ware capable of running a routine which periodically estab
be a unitary system. Alternatively, the control system 52 may
be separate from the water softener 50. In fact, it will be
appreciated that the control system 52 might take the form of
a personal computer, with the appropriate software installed.
lishes a connection with the server 40 and polls the server 40
for any content, data, instructions, or the like, for the water
softener system 70, or to provide content, data, instructions,
The control system 52 includes a controller 54 and commu
or the like, to the server 40. It is not required, for the second
nications interface device 56. The controller 54 includes web
server software capable of delivering content, such as web
embodiment, that the controller 80 is provided with web
server software.
pages to a client, such as the PC 20. The content may be
[0048]
delivery of HTML documents. For example, see the screen
shot provided in FIGS. 2 and 3.
to a port 88 of the water softener 78 via data and control lines
90. The communications interface device 84 includes a wire
[0043]
The controller system 52 includes a port 58 coupled
The controller system 80 includes a port 86 coupled
less network interface port 92. The wireless network interface
to a port 60 of the water softener 50 via data and control lines
port 92 allows the water softener system 70 to establish com
62. The controller 52 is capable of requesting and storing a
munication with the wireless network 72, which ultimately
local network IP address 48. The communications interface
device 56 includes the MAC address, or similar unique iden
ti?er 64, such depicted in the label 66 shown in FIG. 6. The
device 56 also includes the Ethernet port 12.
[0044] FIG. 7 shows one example of the above described
second embodiment of the present invention. A water treat
ment system, such as a water softener system 70 is coupled to
a wireless network 72, such as a public wireless network or
cellular modem. The water softener system 70 is located at a
customer softener installation site. However, the water soft
ener system 70 does not require a LAN provided by the user.
[0045] At a location which may or may not be remote from
the customer softener installation site, a PC 20 and router/
modem 16 are provided. The PC 20 includes an Ethernet port
22 coupled to an Ethernet port 24 of the combination router/
modem 16, via an Ethernet cable 26. The PC 20 includes web
browser software capable of retrieving, presenting, and tra
allows communication with the server 40, in a manner as is
known in the art. A serial number, MAC address, or similar
unique identi?er 64, is provided with the water treatment
system. For example, the identi?er 64 may be provided on a
label 66 af?xed to or otherwise provided with the system.
[0049] FIG. 9 discloses one example of the above described
third embodiment of the present invention. The system
includes a water softener system 100, having an Ethernet port
102 coupled to the Ethernet port 14 of a combination router/
modem 16, via an Ethernet cable 18. A personal computer 20
includes an Ethernet port 22 coupled to an Ethernet port 24 of
the router/modem 16, via an Ethernet cable 26. However, the
third embodiment does not require that the PC 20 couple to
the internet via the same LAN or internet interface as the
water softener system 100. The PC 20 includes web browser
software capable of retrieving, presenting, and traversing
information resources on the world wide web. It will be
versing information resources on the world wide web, as well
appreciated that the router/modem 16 may be coupled to the
as accessing information provided by web servers in private
water softener system 100 or PC 20 via other interface
US 2012/0078722 A1
devices, such as a USB or Wireless connection, provided that
the Water softener system 100 or PC 20 are provided the
appropriate corresponding interface, as is known in the art.
The modem portion of the router/modem 16 may be a DSL
modem or cable modem, or similar device. The combination
router/modem 16 is shoWn as being couple via a cable 30 to
Mar. 29, 2012
accordance With the patent statutes, changes may be made in
the system and method Without actually departing from the
true spirit and scope of this invention. The appended claims
are intended to cover all such changes and modi?cations
Which fall Within the true spirit and scope of this invention.
I claim:
the internet 32, in a manner as known in the art. The combi
nation router/modem 16 may also be comprised of separate
1. A method of controlling a Water treatment system at a
components, rather than the combined system as shoWn, as is
knoWn in the art.
[0050] In the embodiment of FIG. 9, the Water softener
system 100 and router/modem 16 are located at the customer
customer Water treatment system installation site, Wherein the
softener installation site. As suggested above, the PC 20 may
or may not be located at the customer softener installation
site. If the PC 20 is not located at the customer softener
installation site, then the router function of the router/modem
16 may not be required. Further, another internet interface,
such as a modem, Will be required at the location of the PC 20
for coupling the PC 20 to the internet. In addition, a server 40
is shoWn and is at a location remote from the customer soft
ener installation site. It is not likely, but not necessarily pro
hibited, that the server 40 and PC 20 Would be at the same
location. The server 40 is capable of communicating over the
internet 32 via a connection 42 Which may comprise any one
of various methods as knoWn in the art. Further, the server 40
customer Water treatment system installation site includes a
router capable of connecting to a netWork, Wherein the cus
tomer or a representative of the customer has access to a
personal computer having a Web broWser and capable of
connecting to the netWork, the method comprising the steps
of:
providing a main server at a location remote from a cus
tomer Water treatment system installation site;
providing a Water treatment system having a Web server
and a unique identi?cation (i.e., MAC) to be located at
the customer Water treatment system installation site;
establishing a connection betWeen the Water treatment sys
tem and the main server, the connection via a router
located at the customer Water treatment system installa
tion site;
screen shots provided in FIGS. 2 and 3. The server 40 further
maintains records 44 of customers With various ?elds related
receiving at the main server the unique identi?cation
(MAC) of the Water treatment system and a netWork
address (i.e., IP protocol address) of the Water treatment
system, via the Water treatment system;
establishing a connection betWeen a personal computer
and the main server;
to the customer data, equipment, and services. In addition, the
receiving at the main server an association (i.e., customer
includes Web server softWare capable of delivering content,
such as Web pages, to a client, such as the PC 20. The content
may be delivery of HTML documents. For example, see the
server 40 may maintain other data 46, such as data on Water
identi?cation and respective MAC) betWeen the cus
hardness in speci?c locations and data regarding Water con
tainments identi?ed in speci?c locations. FIG. 4 shoWs the
customer records 44 and data 46. In addition, preferably, the
tomer and the Water treatment system;
server 40 is associated With one or more URLs Which are
redirecting a Web broWser of the personal computer to the
Web server of the Water treatment system, based on the
association betWeen the customer and the Water treat
FIG. 10 is a block diagram of one example of the
ment system.
2. The method of claim 1, Wherein the step of providing a
Water treatment system having a unique identi?cation
includes providing a Water treatment system having a media
Water treatment system 100 of FIG. 9. The Water softener
system 100 is shoWn to include a Water softener 108 coupled
to a control system 110. The control system 110 and Water
softener 108 may be a unitary system. Alternatively, the con
trol system 110 may be separate from the Water softener 108.
ing an internet protocol address.
3. The method of claim 1, Wherein the step of initiating a
connection includes automatically initiating the connection.
4. The method of claim 1, Wherein the step of receiving a
associated in name With the Water treatment system and ser
vice provider, to provide a URL more readily recalled by the
customer.
[0051]
In fact, it Will be appreciated that the control system 110
might take the form of a personal computer, With the appro
priate softWare installed. The control system 110 includes a
controller 112 and communications interface device 114. The
controller 110 does not require Web server softWare.
[0052] The controller system 110 includes a port 118
coupled to a port 120 of the Water softener 108 via data and
access control address and an interface card capable of receiv
unique identi?cation and a netWork address includes auto
matically receiving a local internet protocol address of the
Water treatment system and a media access control address
assigned to the Water treatment system.
5. The method of claim 1, Wherein the step of receiving at
the main server the association includes receiving a media
access control address associated With the Water treatment
control lines 122. The controller 112 is capable of requesting
system and respective customer related information, via the
and storing a local netWork IP address 124. The controller 112
or communications interface device 114 includes the MAC
personal computer.
address, or similar unique identi?er 64, such depicted in the
a connection includes establishing a connection betWeen the
label 66 shoWn in FIG. 6. The label 66 may be provided on the
Water treatment system 100. In any event, the unique identi
?er 64 is provided With the system to associate the system
With the customer. The communication interface device 114
also includes the Ethernet port 102.
[0053] It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that
personal computer and the main server, via the customer’s
router, Wherein the personal computer is located at the cus
What has been described is considered at present to be a
ing the user, requested services, or data to be used for pro
gramming of the Water treatment system.
preferred embodiment of the system and method. HoWever, in
6. The method of claim 1, Wherein the step of establishing
tomer Water treatment system installation site.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
presenting via the main server to the personal computer a Web
based form, and receiving user provided information regard
US 2012/0078722 A1
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
presenting via the water treatment system to the personal
computer a web based form, and receiving user provided
information, and data to be used for programming the water
treatment system per the user provided information.
9. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of the
main server receiving user provided information identifying
the location of the water treatment system, and the step of the
main server providing a default settings for city water hard
Mar. 29, 2012
receiving at the main server an association (i.e., customer
identi?cation and respective unique identi?cation of
water treatment system) between the customer and the
water treatment system;
establishing a connection between the water treatment sys
tem and the main server for relaying information
between the water treatment system and the personal
computer.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of providing
ness and iron levels based on the Zip code where the water
a water treatment system having a unique identi?cation
treatment system is located, and further providing the step of
includes a factory assigned unique identi?cation.
the main server advising the user of any known contaminants
in the water within the Zip code area where the water treat
17. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of establish
ing a connection includes automatically initiating the connec
ment system is located, wherein the step of advising may be
tion via the controller and a public wireless network or cel
lular modem.
via email, a text message, a message delivered to the water
treatment system, or via the main server when the user con
nects to the main server, and further comprising the step of
recommending the purchase of a reverse osmosis ?lter to
customers having a water treatment system located in an area
where contaminants are located in the water source.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of receiving
at the main server the association includes receiving the
unique identi?cation associated with the water treatment sys
tem and the corresponding customer identi?cation via the
personal computer.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
determining by the water treatment system that it has been
assigned a new network address, and further comprising the
step of communicating by the water treatment system to the
19. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of establish
ing a connection includes establishing a connection between
the personal computer and the main server, via the customer’s
router or other intemet connection, wherein the personal
main server and providing the main server with the new
computer and a router or other internet connection are located
at the customer water treatment system installation site or a
remote site.
network address.
11. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
detecting that a salt level in the water treatment system is low,
and the step of either notifying the customer that the salt level
is low, or ordering a supply of salt be delivered, or dispatching
20. The method of claim 15, further comprising, wherein
the personal computer includes a web browser, the step of
presenting via the main server to the personal computer a web
a service personnel to the location to add salt to the water
based form, and receiving user provided information regard
treatment system.
ing the user, requested services, or data to be used for pro
gramming of the water treatment system, and storing the user
12. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of
selecting a supplier of services or product such as salt,
wherein the selecting includes certain criteria.
13. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
receiving user provided information regarding the user,
including an email address or SMS number of the user, and
further comprising the step of dispatching an email or text
message to the user advising of various sales or promotional,
or the status of the water treatment system.
14. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of
receiving, by the main server, user requests for revised or
additional service or product.
15. A method of controlling a water treatment system at a
customer water treatment system installation site, wherein the
customer or a representative of the customer has access to a
personal computer capable of connecting to a network, the
method comprising the steps of:
providing a main server at a location remote from a cus
tomer water treatment system installation site;
providing a water treatment system having a controller, a
wireless network interface and a unique identi?cation
(i.e., factory setting), the water treatment system to be
located at the customer water treatment system installa
tion site;
(automatically) initiating a connection between the water
treatment system and the main server, the connection via
a non-customer wireless network;
receiving at the main server the unique identi?cation of the
water treatment system, via the water treatment system;
establishing a connection between the personal computer
and the main server;
provided information on the main server.
21. The method of claim 20, further comprising the step of
receiving, by the main server, routine polling from the water
treatment system for any updated user provided information
or the step of the main server initiating connection with the
water treatment system for providing updated user provided
information.
22. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step the
main server receiving user provided information identifying
the location of the water treatment system, and the step of the
main server providing a default settings for city water hard
ness and iron levels based on the Zip code where the water
treatment system is located, and further providing the step of
the main server advising the user of any known contaminants
in the water within the Zip code area where the water treat
ment system is located, wherein the step of advising may be
via email, a message delivered to the water treatment system,
or via the main server when the user connects to the main
server, and further comprising the step of recommending the
purchase of a reverse osmosis ?lter to customers having a
water treatment system located in an area where contami
nants are located in the water source.
23. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of
detecting that the customer’s salt level in the water treatment
system is low, and the step of either notifying the customer
that the salt level is low, or ordering a supply of salt be
delivered, or dispatching a service personnel to the location to
add salt to the water treatment system.
24. The method of claim 23, further comprising the step of
selecting a supplier of services or product such as salt,
wherein the steps of selecting includes certain criteria.
US 2012/0078722 A1
Mar. 29, 2012
25. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of
receiving user provided information regarding the user,
the personal computer and the main server, via the customer’s
including an email address or SMS number of the user, and
further comprising the step of dispatching an email or text
message to the user advising of various sales or promotional,
or the status of the Water treatment system.
at the customer Water treatment system installation site or a
remote site.
router, Wherein the personal computer and a router are located
32. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step of
presenting via the main server to the personal computer a Web
26. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of
based form, and receiving user provided information regard
receiving, by the main server, user requests for revised or
additional service or product.
ing the user, requested services, or data to be used for pro
gramming of the treatment system, and storing the user pro
27. A method of controlling a Water treatment system at a
customer Water treatment system installation site, Wherein the
customer or a representative of the customer has access to a
personal computer having a Web broWser and capable of
connecting to a netWork, the method comprising the steps of:
providing a main server at a location remote from a cus
tomer Water treatment system installation site;
providing a Water treatment system having a controller, and
a unique identi?cation, the Water treatment system to be
located at the customer Water treatment system installa
tion site;
establishing a connection betWeen the Water treatment sys
tem and the main server, the connection via a router or
other intemet connection located at the customer Water
treatment system installation site;
receiving at the main server the unique identi?cation of the
Water treatment system, via the Water treatment system;
establishing a connection betWeen a personal computer
and the main server;
receiving at the main server an association (i.e., customer
identi?cation and respective unique identi?cation of the
Water treatment system) betWeen the customer and the
Water treatment system;
establishing communication betWeen the Water treatment
system and the main server, for relaying information
betWeen the Water treatment system and the personal
computer.
28. The method of claim 27, Wherein the step of providing
a Water treatment system having a unique identi?cation
includes a factory assigned unique identi?cation.
29. The method of claim 27, Wherein the step of establish
ing a connection includes automatically initiating the connec
tion via the controller.
30. The method of claim 27, Wherein the step of receiving
at the main server the association includes receiving the
unique identi?cation associated With the Water treatment sys
tem and the corresponding customer identi?cation via the
personal computer.
31. The method of claim 27, Wherein the step of establish
ing a connection includes establishing a connection betWeen
vided information on the main server.
33. The method of claim 32, further comprising the step of
receiving, by the main server, routine polling from the Water
treatment system for any updated user provided information.
34. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step the
main server receiving user provided information identifying
the location of the Water treatment system, and the step of the
main server providing a default settings for city Water hard
ness and iron levels based on the Zip code Where the Water
treatment system is located, and further providing the step of
the main server advising the user of any knoWn contaminants
in the Water Within the Zip code area Where the Water treat
ment system is located, Wherein the step of advising may be
via email, a message delivered to the Water treatment system,
or via the main server When the user connects to the main
server, and further comprising the step of recommending the
purchase of a reverse osmosis ?lter to customers having a
Water treatment system located in an area Where contami
nants are located in the Water source.
35. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step of
detecting that the customer’s salt level in the Water treatment
system is loW, and the step of either notifying the customer
that the salt level is loW, or ordering a supply of salt be
delivered, or dispatching a service personnel to the location to
add salt to the Water treatment system.
36. The method of claim 35, further comprising the step of
selecting a supplier of services or product such as salt,
Wherein the steps of selecting includes certain criteria.
37. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step of
receiving user provided information regarding the user,
including an email address or SMS number of the user, and
further comprising the step of dispatching an email or text
message to the user advising of various sales or promotional,
or the status of the Water treatment system.
38. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step of
receiving, by the main server, user requests for revised or
additional service or product.
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