US 20080088582 A1
An input device that includes both a movement detector, such as mechanical switch, and positional indicator, such as touch pad touch screen, and/or touch sensing housing is disclosed. These two input devices can be used substantially simultaneously to provide a command to the device. In this manner, different commands can be associated with depressing a moveable member in different areas and a single moveable member can perform like several buttons.
1. A device comprising:
a moveable platform comprising a location detector configured to detect the location of an object relative to the platform and configured to move between a first position and at least a second position,
a flexible member centrally positioned relative to the platform and configured to bias the platform toward the first position, and
a movement detector configured to detect movement of the platform.
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/850,662, filed Oct. 11, 2006.
This relates to methods and devices in which data associated with a first input, such as a touch pad or touch screen, and data associated with a second input, such as a button, may both be used in combination to generate a single command.
Several kinds of input devices are known for performing operations in a computing device. Some examples of input devices include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like. Each of these devices has advantages and disadvantages that may be taken into account when designing an input apparatus for a computing device. The operations generally include moving a cursor and selecting items displayed on a display screen. The operations may also include paging, scrolling, panning, zooming, etc.
Some input devices are better configured to perform certain functions than other input devices. For example, touch pads and touch screens are useful for providing location information and buttons are useful for indicating selections. Since most computing devices perform several different functions, a combination of different input devices that are able to provide input in different manners is often desired.
In addition, many computing devices are designed to be portable, for example, media players, remote controls, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cellular phones, etc. Designing input devices for these portable devices presents some unique problems. For example, there is typically a push to increase the ability and, thus, the number of functions that these portable computing devices are able to perform. As the number of operations that these portable devices perform increases, the number of controls desired to control these operations and the complexity of these controls also typically increase. A competing concern is that there is also pressure to make portable computing devices smaller, and thus, more portable. However, as the size of these devices decreases, the amount of space in which to locate input devices also decreases.
Accordingly, a need exists for compact input device configurations that can be used to control a variety of different functions in a variety of different manners.
Described herein are exemplary embodiments of devices, including computing devices, that use at least two different input devices substantially simultaneously to generate a single command. One example of two different input devices may include a movement detector, such as a mechanical switch, and a position indicator, such as a touch pad or touch screen. By using such different input devices in combination, the number of operations that can be controlled by these two input devices can be increased. In addition, the benefits associated with each of these two different input devices can be used while making the command. These input devices may also be layered, one on top of the other, further decreasing the amount of space on a device used by the input devices.
In some embodiments the input device may include a movement detector, such as a dome switch, placed under a platform that includes a position indicator. The device can then use the movement of the platform in making selections. Since this movement can be felt by a user of the device, this configuration allows the device to give tactile feedback to the user while the user is making a selection. This tactile feedback can further be improved by configuring the device to provide a “click” sensation when the platform is depressed.
When the platform is depressed or otherwise moved by a user's finger (or stylus or other device), a movement detector can detect this movement. In this manner, the platform operates as a button. In some embodiments the entire platform may be depressed. In other embodiments, a portion of the platform may be depressed, causing the platform to tilt or “gimbal.”
A position indicator can be configured to indicate the position on the platform that has been acted on by the user's finger or other device. Examples of a position indicator include a touch pad and a touch screen. The touch pad or touch screen can be located directly on the platform.
A processor can then be configured to generate a single command that is dependent on both the input from the movement detector and the input from the position indicator. In this manner, different commands can be associated with depressing the platform in different locations, enabling a single platform to provide the functionality of multiple buttons. The platform may also include predetermined zones. An example of a device that includes predetermined button zones can be found in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/592,679, entitled “MOVABLE TOUCH PAD WITH ADDED FUNCTIONALITY,” filed Nov. 3, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference. The processor can then be configured to generate a command that is dependent on the zone in which a user depresses the platform.
Unlike a touch pad or touch screen or non-mechanical sensor alone, this configuration allows the user to receive the tactile feedback associated with buttons while making selections. Further, the number of mechanical movement indicators and the amount of space on a device used for issuing selections can be decreased.
Embodiments of an input device may include a platform suspended on a single flexible member. The flexible member may, for example, be in the shape of a bubble that presses the platform against a housing. The flexible member allows the platform to be tilted 360 degrees about an axis. A movement detector can be configured to detect the movement of the movable platform relative to the housing. The platform also may include a variety of components including a position sensing device to detect the position of a user's finger on the platform when the platform is tilted or depressed.
Examples of devices that may use the input devices described herein include media players, desktop computers, laptop computers, keyboard units, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cellular phones, and remote controls.
The representative embodiments described herein relate to devices that use signals from a movement indicator and a position indicator substantially simultaneously to generate a single command. A platform mounted in a frame of the device can include sensors that can indicate the position of an object, such as a user's finger, in contact with the platform. In addition, a movement indicator on the device can detect movement of the platform relative to the frame.
A user can depress the platform to generate a button command. Since the position of the activation force on the touch pad or touch screen can be determined from the positional indicator, different button commands can be generated depending where on the platform the user depresses the platform.
In the following description of preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be used and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the preferred embodiments. In addition, the following description includes examples that utilize a touch pad as an object sensing device to provide location or other input data. It is understood that reference to a touch pad can also refer to other object sensing devices including (without limitation) touch sensing devices and/or proximity sensing devices, and further including (for example) touch pads, touch screens and/or touch sensing housings.
As shown in
The touch pad 434 provides location information for an object in contact with or in proximity to the touch pad. This information can be used in combination with information provided by a movement indicator to generate a single command associated with the movement of the touch pad. The touch pad can be used as an input device by itself; for example, the touch pad may be used to move an object or scroll through a list of items on the device.
The touch pad 434 may be widely varied. For example, the touch pad 434 may be a conventional touch pad based on the Cartesian coordinate system, or the touch pad 434 may be a touch pad based on a Polar coordinate system. An example of a touch pad based on polar coordinates may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 7,046,230, entitled “TOUCH PAD FOR HANDHELD DEVICE,” which is herein incorporated by reference. Furthermore, the touch pad 434 may be used in at least two different modes, which may be referred to as a relative mode and/or an absolute mode. In absolute mode, the touch pad 434 reports the absolute coordinates of the location at which it is being touched. For example, these would be “x” and “y” coordinates in the case of a standard Cartesian coordinate system or (r,θ) in the case of a Polar coordinate system. In relative mode, the touch pad 434 reports the direction and/or distance of change, for example, left/right, up/down, and the like. In most cases, the signals produced by the touch pad 434 direct movement on the display screen in a direction similar to the direction of the finger as it is moved across the surface of the touch pad 434.
The shape of the touch pad 434 may be widely varied. For example, the touch pad 434 may be circular, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, and the like. In general, the outer perimeter of the touch pad 434 defines the working boundary of the touch pad 434. In the illustrated embodiment, the touch pad is circular. Circular touch pads allow a user to continuously swirl a finger in a free manner, i.e., the finger can be rotated through 360 degrees of rotation without stopping. This form of motion may produce incremental or accelerated scrolling through a list of songs being displayed on a display screen, for example. Furthermore, the user can rotate his or her finger tangentially from all sides, thus providing more finger position range. Both of these features may help when performing a scrolling function. Furthermore, the size of the touch pad 434 generally corresponds to a size that allows it to be easily manipulated by a user (e.g., the size of a finger tip or larger).
The touch pad 434, which generally takes the form of a rigid planar platform, includes a touchable outer surface 436 for receiving a finger (or object) for manipulation of the touch pad. Although not shown in
In the illustrated embodiment, the touch pad 434 is based on capacitive sensing. A capacitively based touch pad is arranged to detect changes in capacitance as the user moves an object such as a finger around the touch pad. In most cases, the capacitive touch pad includes a protective shield, one or more electrode layers, a circuit board and associated electronics including an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The protective shield is placed over the electrodes; the electrodes are mounted on the top surface of the circuit board; and the ASIC is mounted on the bottom surface of the circuit board. The protective shield serves to protect the underlayers and to provide a surface for allowing a finger to slide thereon. The surface is generally smooth so that the finger does not stick to it when moved. The protective shield also provides an insulating layer between the finger and the electrode layers. The electrode layer includes a plurality of spatially distinct electrodes. Any suitable number of electrodes may be used. As the number of electrodes increases, the resolution of the touch pad also increases.
Capacitive sensing works according to the principles of capacitance. As should be appreciated, whenever two electrically conductive members come close to one another without actually touching, their electric fields interact to form capacitance. In the configuration discussed above, the first electrically conductive member is one or more of the electrodes and the second electrically conductive member is the finger of the user. Accordingly, as the finger approaches the touch pad, a tiny capacitance forms between the finger and the electrodes in close proximity to the finger. The capacitance in each of the electrodes is measured by the ASIC located on the backside of the circuit board. By detecting changes in capacitance at each of the electrodes, the ASIC can determine the location, direction, speed and acceleration of the finger as it is moved across the touch pad. The ASIC can also report this information in a form that can be used by the electronic device.
In accordance with one embodiment, the touch pad 434 is movable relative to the frame 432. This movement is detected by a movement detector that generates another control signal. By way of example, the touch pad 434 in the form of the rigid planar platform may rotate, pivot, slide, translate, flex and/or the like relative to the frame 432. The touch pad 434 may be coupled to the frame 432 and/or it may be movably restrained by the frame 432. By way of example, the touch pad 434 may be coupled to the frame 432 through axels, pin joints, slider joints, ball and socket joints, flexure joints, magnets, cushions and/or the like. The touch pad 434 may also float within a space of the frame (e.g., gimbal). It should be noted that the input device 430 may additionally include a combination of joints such as a pivot/translating joint, pivot/flexure joint, pivot/ball and socket joint, translating/flexure joint, and the like to increase the range of movement (e.g., increase the degree of freedom).
When moved, the touch pad 434 is configured to actuate a movement detector circuit that generates one or more signals. The circuit generally includes one or more movement detectors such as switches, sensors, encoders, and the like.
In the illustrated embodiment, the touch pad 434 is part of a depressible platform. The touch pad operates as a button and performs one or more mechanical clicking actions. Multiple functions of the device can be accessed by depressing the touch pad 434 in different locations. A movement detector signals that the touch pad 434 has been depressed, and the touch pad 434 signals a location on the platform that has been touched. By combining both the movement detector signals and the touch pad signals, the touch pad 434 acts like multiple buttons such that depressing the touch pad at different locations corresponds to different buttons. As shown in
As shown in
To elaborate, the touch pad 434 is configured to actuate a movement detector, which together with the touch pad positional information, forms a button command when the touch pad 434 is moved to the depressed position. The movement detector is typically located within the frame 432 and may be coupled to the touch pad 434 and/or the frame 432. The movement detector may be any combination of switches and sensors. Switches are generally configured to provide pulsed or binary data such as activate (on) or deactivate (off). By way of example, an underside portion of the touch pad 434 may be configured to contact or engage (and thus activate) a switch when the user presses on the touch pad 434. The sensors, on the other hand, are generally configured to provide continuous or analog data. By way of example, the sensor may be configured to measure the position or the amount of tilt of the touch pad 434 relative to the frame when a user presses on the touch pad 434. Any suitable mechanical, electrical and/or optical switch or sensor may be used. For example, tact switches, force sensitive resistors, pressure sensors, proximity sensors, and the like may be used. In some case, the spring bias for placing the touch pad 434 in the upright position is provided by a movement detector that includes a spring action.
Both the touch pad 444 and the switch 446 are operatively coupled to the computing device 442 through a communication interface 454. The communication interface provides a connection point for direct or indirect connection between the input device and the electronic device. The communication interface 454 may be wired (wires, cables, connectors) or wireless (e.g., transmitter/receiver).
Referring to the computing device 442, the computing device 442 generally includes a processor 457 (e.g., CPU or microprocessor) configured to execute instructions and to carry out operations associated with the computing device 442. For example, using instructions retrieved from memory, the processor may control the reception and manipulation of input and output data between components of the computing device 442. The processor 457 is configured to receive input from both the switch 446 and the touch pad 444 and form a single command that is dependent upon both of these inputs. In most cases, the processor 457 executes instruction under the control of an operating system or other software. The processor 457 can be a single-chip processor or can be implemented with multiple components.
The computing device 442 also includes an input/output (I/O) controller 456 that is operatively coupled to the processor 457. The (I/O) controller 456 may be integrated with the processor 457 or it may be a separate component as shown. The I/O controller 456 is generally configured to control interactions with one or more I/O devices that can be coupled to the computing device 442, as for example the input device 440. The I/O controller 456 generally operates by exchanging data between the computing device 442 and I/O devices that desire to communicate with the computing device 442.
The computing device 442 also includes a display controller 458 that is operatively coupled to the processor 457. The display controller 458 may be integrated with the processor 457 or it may be a separate component as shown. The display controller 458 is configured to process display commands to produce text and graphics on a display screen 460. By way of example, the display screen 460 may be a monochrome display, color graphics adapter (CGA) display, enhanced graphics adapter (EGA) display, variable-graphics-array (VGA) display, super VGA display, liquid crystal display (e.g., active matrix, passive matrix and the like), cathode ray tube (CRT), plasma displays and the like. In the illustrated embodiment, the display device corresponds to a liquid crystal display (LCD).
In most cases, the processor 457 together with an operating system operates to execute computer code and produce and use data. The computer code and data may reside within a program storage area 462 that is operatively coupled to the processor 457. Program storage area 462 generally provides a place to hold data that is being used by the computing device 442. By way of example, the program storage area may include Read-Only Memory (ROM), Random-Access Memory (RAM), hard disk drive and/or the like. The computer code and data could also reside on a removable program medium and loaded or installed onto the computing device when needed. In one embodiment, program storage area 462 is configured to store information for controlling how the tracking and movement signals generated by the input device are used in combination by the computing device 442 to generate a single button command.
As should be appreciated, the button functions generated by pressing on each button zone may include selecting an item on the screen, opening a file or document, executing instructions, starting a program, viewing a menu, and/or the like. The button functions may also include functions that make it easier to navigate through the electronic system, as for example, zoom, scroll, open different menus, home the input pointer, perform keyboard related actions such as enter, delete, insert, page up/down, and the like. In the case of a music player, one of the button zones may be used to access a menu on the display screen, a second button zone may be used to seek forward through a list of songs or fast forward through a currently playing song, a third button zone may be used to seek backwards through a list of songs or fast rearward through a currently playing song, and a fourth button zone may be used to pause or stop a song that is being played.
To elaborate, the touch pad 472 is capable of moving relative to the frame 476 so as to create a clicking action. The frame 476 may be formed from a single component or it may be a combination of assembled components. The clicking action actuates a movement detector contained inside the frame 476. The movement detector is configured to sense movements of the button zones during the clicking action and to send a signal corresponding to the movement to the electronic device. By way of example, the movement detectors may be switches, sensors and/or the like.
In addition, the touch pad 472 is configured to send positional information on what button zone is being acted on when the clicking action occurs. The positional information allows to device to determine which button zone is being activated when the touch pad is moved relative to the frame.
The movements of each of the button zones 474 may be provided by various rotations, pivots, translations, flexes and the like. In one embodiment, the touch pad 472 is configured to gimbal relative to the frame 476. By gimbal, it is generally meant that the touch pad 472 is able to float in space relative to the frame 476 while still being constrained thereto. The gimbal may allow the touch pad 472 to move in single or multiple degrees of freedom (DOF) relative to the housing, for example, movements in the x, y and/or z directions and/or rotations about the x, y, and/or z axes (θxθyθz).
One or more movement detectors are activated by the movement of gimbal plate 605. For example, one or more movement detectors can be positioned around or on gimbal plate 608 and can be activated by the tilt or other desired movement of gimbal plate 608. Flexible member 608 can be part of the movement detector, for example the dome on a SMT dome switch.
The flexible member 608 can be formed in a bubble shape that provides the spring force to push the gimbal plate into mating engagement with the top wall of frame 602 and away from supportive surface 608. Tab 606 protrudes from the side of gimbal plate 606 and extends under top plate 602.
The gimbal plate is allowed to float within cutout 601. The shape of the space 601 generally coincides with the shape of the gimbal plate 604. As such, the unit is substantially restrained along the x and y axes via a side wall 603 of the top plate 602 and along the z axis via engagement of top plate 602 and tab 606 on gimbal plate 604. Gimbal plate 604 is thus capable of moving within space 601 while still being prevented from moving entirely out of the space 601 via the walls of the top plate 602.
With respect to
5C shows that if the user presses down on the center of the gimbal plate 604, the gimbal plate moves down into the housing without tilting. The gimbal plate is nonetheless still restrained within the housing by the walls of top plate 602.
Touch pad 605, mounted on gimbal plate 604, provides the position of the user's finger when gimbal plate 604 is pressed. This positional information is used by the device to determine what button function is desired by the user. For example, the interface may be divided into distinct button zones as shown in
The input device including the gimbal plate and a touch pad can be part of a computer system 439 as shown in
By using a touch pad and the gimbal plate as configured in
Having only a single movement detector positioned under the gimbal plate also improves the tactile feel of the input device. A user of the device will feel only a single click on any part of the gimbal plate the user presses. Having multiple mechanical switch type movement detectors under a gimbal plate can result in a “crunching” type feel in which the user feels multiple clicks in series when they press down on the gimbal plate.
The click wheel 624 is restrained within a space 632 provided in the frame 630. The click wheel 624 is capable of moving within the space 632 while still being prevented from moving entirely out of the space 632 via the walls of the frame 630. The shape of the space 632 generally coincides with the shape of the click wheel 624. As such, the unit is substantially restrained along the x and y axes via a side wall 634 of the frame 630 and along the z axis via a top wall 636 and a bottom wall 640 of the frame 630. A small gap may be provided between the side walls and the platform to allow the touch pad to gimbal 360 degrees around its axis without obstruction (e.g., a slight amount of play). In some cases, the platform may include tabs that extend along the x and y axes so as to prevent rotation about the z axis.
The center button 628 is positioned within a space 642 in the click wheel 624. The center button 628 is constrained within space 642 along the x and y axes via side wall 644 of click wheel 624 and along the z axis by tabs 646 of click wheel 646 and by bottom wall 640, which connects with legs 647 of center button 628 when the center button is pressed.
Positioned beneath the center button 628 are two dome switches 622 and 626. The two dome switches provide the mechanical spring action for center button 628 and click wheel 624. A rigid plate 648 is positioned between the two dome switches. The rigid plate 648 extends through holes in legs 647 and under click wheel 624. In this manner, the rigid plate transmits the spring force of dome switches 622 and 626 to the click wheel 624 and the rigid plate transmits any force supplied by a user to click wheel 624 to dome switch 622.
As with the configuration described with respect to
Although not shown, the touch pad may be back lit in some cases. For example, the circuit board can be populated with light emitting diodes (LEDs) on either side in order to designate button zones, provide additional feedback and the like.
As previously mentioned, the input devices described herein may be integrated into an electronic device or they may be separate stand alone devices.
Referring back to
In one embodiment, the media player is a handheld device that is sized for placement into a pocket of the user. By being pocket sized, the user does not have to directly carry the device and therefore the device can be taken almost anywhere the user travels (e.g., the user is not limited by carrying a large, bulky and often heavy device, as in a laptop or notebook computer). For example, in the case of a music player, a user may use the device while working out at the gym. In case of a camera, a user may use the device while mountain climbing. In the case of a game player, the user may use the device while traveling in a car. Furthermore, the device may be operated by the user's hands. No reference surface, such as a desktop, is needed. In the illustrated embodiment, the media player 702 is a pocket sized hand held MP3 music player that allows a user to store a large collection of music (e.g., in some cases up to 4,000 CD-quality songs). By way of example, the MP3 music player may correspond to the iPodŽ brand MP3 player manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. Although used primarily for storing and playing music, the MP3 music player shown herein may also include additional functionality such as storing a calendar and phone lists, storing and playing games, storing photos and the like. In fact, in some cases, it may act as a highly transportable storage device.
As shown in
In the illustrated embodiment, the media player 702 includes a hard drive thereby giving the media player massive storage capacity. For example, a 20 GB hard drive can store up to 4000 songs or about 266 hours of music. In contrast, flash-based media players on average store up to 128 MB, or about two hours, of music. The hard drive capacity may be widely varied (e.g., 5, 10, 20 GB, etc.). In addition to the hard drive, the media player 702 shown herein also includes a battery such as a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. These types of batteries are capable of offering about 10 hours of continuous playtime to the media player.
The media player 702 also includes a display screen 724 and related circuitry. The display screen 724 is used to display a graphical user interface as well as other information to the user (e.g., text, objects, graphics). By way of example, the display screen 724 may be a liquid crystal display (LCD). In one particular embodiment, the display screen corresponds to a 160-by-128-pixel high-resolution display, with a white LED backlight to give clear visibility in daylight as well as low-light conditions. As shown, the display screen 724 is visible to a user of the media player 702 through an opening 725 in the housing 722 and through a transparent wall 726 that is disposed in front of the opening 725. Although transparent, the transparent wall 726 may be considered part of the housing 722 since it helps to define the shape or form of the media player 702.
The media player 702 also includes the touch pad 700 such as any of those previously described. The touch pad 700 generally consists of a touchable outer surface 731 for receiving a finger for manipulation on the touch pad 730. Although not shown in
In addition to above, the touch pad may also include one or more movable buttons zones A-D as well as a center button E. The button zones are configured to provide one or more dedicated control functions for making selections or issuing commands associated with operating the media player 702. By way of example, in the case of an MP3 music player, the button functions may be associated with opening a menu, playing a song, fast forwarding a song, seeking through a menu, making selections and the like. In most cases, the button functions are implemented via a mechanical clicking action.
The position of the touch pad 700 relative to the housing 722 may be widely varied. For example, the touch pad 700 may be placed at any external surface (e.g., top, side, front, or back) of the housing 722 that is accessible to a user during manipulation of the media player 702. In most cases, the touch sensitive surface 731 of the touch pad 700 is completely exposed to the user. In the embodiment illustrated in
The shape of the touch pad 700 may also be widely varied. Although shown as circular, the touch pad may also be square, rectangular, triangular, and the like. More particularly, the touch pad is annular, i.e., shaped like or forming a ring. As such, the inner and outer perimeter of the touch pad defines the working boundary of the touch pad.
The media player 702 may also include a hold switch 734. The hold switch 734 is configured to activate or deactivate the touch pad and/or buttons associated therewith. This is generally done to prevent unwanted commands by the touch pad and/or buttons, as for example, when the media player is stored inside a user's pocket. When deactivated, signals from the buttons and/or touch pad are not sent or are disregarded by the media player. When activated, signals from the buttons and/or touch pad are sent and therefore received and processed by the media player.
Moreover, the media player 702 may also include one or more headphone jacks 736 and one or more data ports 738. The headphone jack 736 is capable of receiving a headphone connector associated with headphones configured for listening to sound being outputted by the media device 702. The data port 738, on the other hand, is capable of receiving a data connector/cable assembly configured for transmitting and receiving data to and from a host device such as a general purpose computer (e.g., desktop computer, portable computer). By way of example, the data port 738 may be used to upload or download audio, video and other images to and from the media device 702. For example, the data port may be used to download songs and play lists, audio books, ebooks, photos, and the like into the storage mechanism of the media player.
The data port 738 may be widely varied. For example, the data port may be a PS/2 port, a serial port, a parallel port, a USB port, a Firewire port and/or the like. In some cases, the data port 738 may be a radio frequency (RF) link or optical infrared (IR) link to eliminate the need for a cable. Although not shown in
Although only one data port is shown, it should be noted that this is not a limitation and that multiple data ports may be incorporated into the media player. In a similar vein, the data port may include multiple data functionality, i.e., integrating the functionality of multiple data ports into a single data port. Furthermore, it should be noted that the position of the hold switch, headphone jack and data port on the housing may be widely varied. That is, they are not limited to the positions shown in
Although the various exemplary embodiments have been fully described with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be noted that various changes and modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications are to be understood as being included within the scope of the subject matter defined by the appended claims.