|Publication number||USRE39881 E1|
|Application number||US 10/667,242|
|Publication date||Oct 16, 2007|
|Filing date||Sep 18, 2003|
|Priority date||Feb 15, 1996|
|Publication number||10667242, 667242, US RE39881 E1, US RE39881E1, US-E1-RE39881, USRE39881 E1, USRE39881E1|
|Original Assignee||Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (38), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (9), Classifications (10), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a Continuation-In-Part continuation application of U.S. Reissue patent application Ser. No. 09/796,685, filed Feb. 28, 2001, now RE 38,286 which is a reissue patent of Ser. No. 08/754,310, filed on Nov. 21, 1996, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,877,458, which is a continuation-in-part application of an earlier filed co-pending patent application with the same title filed on Feb. 15, 1996, and given Ser. No. 08/601,719 which includes as an inventor the inventor of the present invention is now U.S. Pat. No. 5,686,705, all of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.
The present invention relates to a system and method for determining a location selected by a user on a surface and providing information to the user that has been determined to be relative to that location. In particular the present invention relates to position detection devices that are able to detect positions on a surface of two and three dimensional objects that have complex shapes. Additionally it relates to position detection devices in which the object may be turned, rotated or otherwise manipulated relative to the rest of the position detection system. Further, the present invention relates to provision of a ground point on the pointing device to ground the user to the system to minimize noise input to the system processor and potential error in position identification.
A variety of technologies exist to determine the position of a stylus, or even a finger, placed on a surface. One technology is a grid of horizontal and vertical wires that are placed below the surface of a flat tablet or over the surface of a display device and emit position indicating signals which are detected by a stylus. Two devices using this type of technology are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,149,919 and 4,686,332 to Greenias, et al. Applications using these devices are computer input drawing (or digitizing) tablets, and touch-screen display devices.
In another technology, surface acoustic waves are measured at the edges of a glass plate and are used to calculate the position on the plate that was selected by a finger or a stylus. Applications include high use touch screen kiosk displays where a conductive overlay technology would wear out.
Yet other technologies include the use of light pens as optical detectors. Additionally a frame around a flat display with an array of light emitters and detectors around the edge of the frame, may be used to detect when a finger or stylus is near the display surface. These technologies are limited to displays or flat surfaces.
Position detectors such as the devices disclosed in the Greanias patents, that use many conductors arranged in a grid, are not well suited to a complex shaped surface of either two or three dimensions. There are, at a minimum, difficulties in positioning and shaping the conductors to fit the contours of a complex shape.
Another similar device is a grid of horizontal and vertical wires placed over or beneath the surface of a flat display device that uses capacitive coupling of a stylus or finger. In this device, the capacitive coupling transfers position indicating signals from one wire to another which can be used to calculate the position of the coupling. Computer input tablets, as well as finger pointing mouse replacement tablets, use this technology.
In another technology, a rectangular homogeneous transparent conductor is placed over the surface of a display device and bar contacts on the edges of the transparent conductor charge the conductor. Capacitive coupling of a stylus or a finger to the transparent conductor causes the conductor to discharge while sensors attached to the bar contacts measure the amount of current drawn through each of the contacts. Analysis of the ratios of the currents drawn from pairs of contacts on opposing sides of the rectangle provide an X-Y position on the panel that was selected by the user. A device of this type is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,853,498 to Meadows, et al. An application of this device is a touch-screen display.
A similar technology uses a rectangular piece of extremely uniform resistive material with a series of discrete resistors along the edge and is mounted on a flat surface. A voltage differential is applied to the row of resistors on opposing sides of the rectangle and in a time-division manner the voltage differential is applied to the row of resistors of the other two opposing sides. The position indicating signals are either received by a stylus, or by a conductive overlay which can be depressed to contact the surface of the resistive material. One variety of this device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,798,370 to Hurst.
The devices described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,853,498 (Meadows, et al.) and 3,798,370 (Hurst) drive a homogenous rectangular resistive overlay with bar contacts or a string of resistors along each edge. These approaches rely upon the regular shape of a rectangle in order to work. The shape and placement of the contacts provide the means to detect portions of the surface within a rectangular subsection of the resistive material of the surface. Other simple shapes may also be feasible with bar and resistor string contacts but in complex shapes they can create areas that cannot be distinguished (e.g., shapes with concave edges such as a circle or ellipse can not be accommodated by either the Meadows or the Hurst approaches). The use of bar contacts or strings of resistors along substantially the entire edge of an object limits their usefulness on objects where the position on the entire surface needs to be detected. The locations directly beneath each bar electrode and between each bar or spot electrode and the edge of the object are not detectable in these devices.
The devices described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,853,499 (Meadows, et al.) and 3,798,370 (Hurst) do not take into consideration the effects of contact resistance. The resistance between the contacts and the homogenous resistive material may be substantial relative to the resistance of the homogenous material. Additionally the contact resistance may vary from electrode to electrode or change due to mechanical or environmental stress. The Meadows and Hurst devices rely on contacts of known, or constant resistance, which constrains the use of materials and contact approaches. Any variation in contact resistance or changes in contact resistance due to environmental factors are not accounted for and result in detection errors.
Further, Meadows loads the surface with a capacitively coupled stylus and determines position by measuring the current drawn from the driving circuits. The Meadows device requires four receiver circuits to accomplish this.
The Meadows device is susceptible to the effects of unwanted phantom styluses coupling to the surface. Phantom styluses such as rings or fingers may couple to the active surface instead of, or in addition to, the actual stylus. These phantom styluses cause detection errors because the changes that they also produce cause changes in the driving circuit.
In applications where the object containing the grid needs to be rotated, or the electronics and the object are physically spaced-apart from each other, a large number of conductors must be coupled to the system, or between the elements of the systems, through connection mechanisms that may allow rotation or other movements. Such cables for the systems of the prior art would be rather large and cumbersome. Further, connectors with a large number of contacts are expensive and reduce the overall reliability of any system that requires them. Contacts that allow rotation, such as slip rings or commutators, become prohibitively complex and expensive as the number of connections rises above a small number. Additionally, the multiple circuits required to drive grid arrays are complex and costly to manufacture. Acoustic wave detectors provide a rugged position detection mechanism but are costly to implement. Light wave detection mechanisms are limited to flat surfaces and are susceptible to dust and insects blocking the light paths. It is believed, however, that the present invention solves these problems.
In today's modern environment there are many sources of electro-magnetic energy, both naturally occurring and man-made. Some examples of the sources of such energy in the earth's atmosphere are static electricity, electrical storms, heat lightning, radiation from outer space, and man-made radio waves. Each of these acts and interacts with each other causing interference and background noise to each other, depending on the intensity of the background or interfering signal. Thus, as is well known in devices that utilize an antenna as a device to detect an input signal, these atmospheric signals may interfere with the ability to detect and receive a signal of interest. It is also known that in systems with a hand-held antenna probe, the human body acts as a larger antenna with a signal from the person holding that probe added to the signal of interest detected by the hand-held probe. That added signal, and the multiple frequencies that it includes is also known to potentially add a level of inaccuracy in such a system, if the desired signal can be detected at all. To overcome that unwanted interference many elaborate circuits have been devised to suppress those interference signals “picked-up” by the human user from impacting the performance of the system.
The present invention includes various apparatus and methods for determining a user selected position on an electrographic sensor unit. In the most general terms the electrographic sensor unit of the present invention includes a layer of a conductive material having an electrical resistivity with K spaced apart contact points electrically interconnected therewith, a processor connected to the K spaced apart contacts and disposed to selectively apply a signal to N of the K contact points where N has an integer value of 3 to K, and probe assembly, including a stylus or a flexible conductive layer placed over the layer, coupled to the processor, the stylus disposed to be positioned by a user in vicinity of the user selected position on the layer, or the user to point a finger at the flexible conductive layer. In turn, the stylus, or the flexible conductive layer receives signals from the layer when the contact points have signals selectively applied thereto by the processor with the user selected position being determinable by the processor from the signals received from the stylus, or flexible layer, each in relation to a similar excitation of (N-J) different pairs of the K contact points under control of the processor, where J is an integer of 2 to (N−1).
Additionally, where the electrographic sensor includes more than one conductive layers that are each electrically isolated from each other, in the most general sense M conductive layers, the present invention is also able to discern which of those layers contains the user selected position. Here, each layer has K spaced apart contact points electrically interconnected with the corresponding layer of conductive material where N of the K contact points on each layer are used to locate the user selected position and where N has an integer value of three to K. The processor is similarly disposed to selectively apply a signal to each of the N contact points of each of the M layers and to determine which of the M layers and position coordinates of the user selected position on the corresponding one of the M layers in cooperation with a means for detecting and delivering a signal from the user selected position on the selected layer of the electrographic sensor unit to the processor.
The identification of the selected layer is accomplished by sequentially applying a first selected signal to all of the K contact points on each of the M layers in turn and measuring a first measured signal at said user selected position for each of the M layers individually with the first measurement corresponding to each one of the M layers being the signal received by the means for detecting and delivering when all of the contact points on that layer has the first selected signal applied to that layer's contact points.
Next, a second measured signal is measured at the user selected position on the user selected layer for each of the M layers with each of the K contact points on each of the M layers open circuited, followed by the subtraction of the second measured signal from the first measured signal for each of the M layers to form M difference values.
Those M difference values are then each compared against a preselected threshold value to determine which one of those M difference values is both greater than that selected threshold and which exceeds it by the greatest value. The layer associated with the difference value that satisfies those conditions is then identified as the layer that contains the user selected position. Then once that determination is made the coordinates of the user selected position on that layer can be determined as discussed above.
The present invention also includes techniques for compensating for contact resistance in each of the contact points on the conductive layer, as well as forming the conductive layer into a two or three dimensional shape which may be open or closed. Further, the present invention includes the placement of a conductive skin over the outer surface layer with that skin having a graphical representation thereon and the present invention having the capability to convert the position coordinates of the user selected position from the coordinates of the conductive layer to those of the graphical representation. Such a graphical representation may be that of a map or a globe, even a mythical map or one of a star or another planet. Carrying this one step further, those graphical coordinates may also be used to electronically deliver information that has been prestored in memory relative to the selected graphical coordinates to the user.
In actual application the present invention can take many forms from a conductive layer with or without a non-conductive layer thereon and a stylus for use by the user to select a position on the layer, to a multi-layer structure with a conductive bottom layer, a non-conductive compressible inner layer, and a flexible conductive top layer where the user presses the top layer toward the bottom layer and the point at which the top and bottom layers are closest together is determined to be the user selected position. Further, various designs are proposed wherein the actuation and measured signals are either AC of a selected frequency or DC.
The present invention also includes a probe assembly with a cable with two conductors. The proximate end conductor is coupled to the processor and the proximate end of the other conductor is connected to a signal neutral point. The stylus in turn is coupled to the cable and incorporates therein the distal ends of two conductors with the distal end of the conductor coupled to the processor disposed to receive signals from the layer when the contact points have signals selectively applied to them and the user positions the stylus in vicinity of a selected point on the surface. The distal end of the other conductor is disposed to be contacted by the user when holding the stylus to connect the user to the signal neutral point. To maximize the probability that the user holds the stylus making contact with the contact point, it is located externally and positioned to be contacted by the user during use of the stylus. Further improve that probability, and to increase the comfort of holding the stylus, an electrically conductive contact of a flexible conductive polymer is placed to encircle the stylus at a position to maximize the user's comfort when holding the stylus.
Thus, to fully explain the scope of the present invention, a detailed discussion of various embodiments is offered in the Description of the Preferred Embodiments below. However it must be kept in mind that that discussion is not an exhaustive discussion and variations on the many themes that are presented are also considered to be part of the present invention.
The present invention relates to a system and method for determining a location on a two or three dimensional surface of any shape selected by a user, as well as providing access to data storage locations or information stored therein that is relative to that location. More specifically, the present invention determines the location information in the form of coordinates on a predefined coordinate system. That location information then serves as an address to locations within the memory of an associated microprocessor subsystem. That location, or address may in-turn be used to retrieve previously stored data pertaining to the corresponding location on the surface, to store data pertaining to the corresponding location on the surface, to modify the behavior of the system incorporating the present invention, or to be presented to the user on a conventional display or printer device.
In simple shaped surfaces, such as a rectangle, a minimum of three small electrical contacts mounted on the edge of the surface are needed. On more complex shaped surfaces the minimum number of electrical contacts may increase to enable the system to determine between multiple locations on the surface as to which one that the user is indicating. In each configuration of the surface, the contacts need to be positioned such that all locations on the surface can be individually identified.
Through the use of small contacts and driver/receiver techniques, the present invention is able to compensate for differences in the contact resistance of each of the contacts. The differences that can be compensated for include differences between contacts on the same surface, differences between the contacts on one surface versus those on another surface using the same electronics, as well as changes in the contact resistance of individual contacts over time due to mechanical and environmental stresses.
The present invention determines a user selected position on the surface by measuring the unique position indicating signals with a receiver as discussed below. For either two or three dimensional objects, the present invention only requires a single receiver circuit.
In the various embodiments of the present invention, the stylus does not load, or negligibly loads, the transmitters and a signal level at the point on the surface that is touched by the stylus is measured rather than the changes in the driving circuit as in the Meadows device. Additionally, potentially phantom styluses such as fingers and rings, that have a dramatic effect on the operation of the prior art, only have a negligible loading effect on the transmitter of the present invention. Thus the present invention is immune to phantom styluses.
In the present invention the active surface can be made of a conductive polymer composite (conductive plastic), or a conductive coating on a non-conductive material. This has substantial cost advantages over the prior art since no overlays or embedded wires are needed, and since the surface itself provides the necessary structural support. Devices incorporating the present invention would typically include a surface of a conductive polymer composite molded or vacuum formed that does not require any additional structure thus resulting in an additional cost of only the carbon-polymer material, or the applied conductive coating. Furthermore, the formation of the sensitive surface by injection molding allows for easy creation of touch sensitive complex shapes. The use of a carbon-polymer composite material as both an element in the position location system and the structural support provides a rugged and reliable system. Carbon-polymer composite materials are inherently rugged and the system of the present invention employs a single layer of such material, rather than a multi-layer system where the bonding between the layers may deteriorate and the layers separate.
A minimum of three contacts are needed to drive an entire surface of a simple object (e.g., a rectangle, circle or ellipsoid). Additionally contacts may be used for complex objects or to provide increased resolution for simpler shapes rather than increasing the sensitivity of the circuitry. The low number of contacts and therefore wire count, leads to low cost, ease of manufacturing, and enables remote or moveable surface applications (e.g., a rotating globe).
An advantage to the use of a conductive polymer material for the surface is that it allows the contacts to be mounted to the back or inside of the surface, and to thereby achieve a 100% active front or outside surface.
Additionally, the present invention includes unique surface drive techniques that can compensate for unknown and variable contact resistance. Various contact types and mechanical connection mechanisms create contact resistances which vary substantially between contacts, and vary over time with mechanical and environmental stresses such as movement, temperature and aging. Other technologies rely on contacts of known, or constant, contact resistance with any uncompensated change in contact resistance resulting in position detection errors.
The present invention permits the use of various mechanisms to compensate for differences and variations in contact resistance. Each of those mechanisms may be used and each provides its own advantages. One possible mechanism involves using two electrodes as each contact, with those electrodes being close together and electrically interconnected but not touching. The first of those electrodes in this configuration is attached to the signal drive source and the second of those electrodes provides a high impedance feedback path. In this configuration the signal drive source is adjusted so that the signal level at the second electrode is of a desired value thus providing a known signal level at a known point on the surface independent of the contact resistance. The drive method here also provides automatic adjustment for changes in the resistive material over time and temperature, as well as variations in contact resistance.
A second possible mechanism has just one electrode per contact and measures the value of the resistance of each contact to the resistive material of the surface. In such a system having three contact points, A, B and C, a signal level measurement is made at point C through a high impedance path while a signal of a known level is applied between point A and point B. Similar measurements are then made at point B with the signal applied between point C and point A, and at point A with the signal applied between point B and point C. Thus, knowing the positions of the contacts on the surface and the resistivity of the surface material, the contact resistance between points A, B, and C and the surface material may be calculated as discussed below with respect to FIG. 6.
Additionally, the present invention incorporates the use of a multi-state drive sequence to provide quick measurement and on-the-fly calibration for improved accuracy. The stylus is used to make several signal measurements at a point on the surface of the object selected by the user. First a measurement is made with no signals applied to the contacts to determine a baseline DC offset and ambient noise level for the surface, for purposes of discussion here this is called DC-OFFSET. A second measurement is made with a signal applied to all of the contacts to determine the full-scale signal value, for purposes of discussion here this is called FULL-SCALE. Another measurement is then made by applying a signal to one pair of contacts to create a signal level gradient across the surface between those two points, for purposes of discussion here call this the X axis and the measured value X. A signal is then applied to another pair of contacts to create a signal level gradient in another direction, for purposes of discussion here call this the Y axis and the measured value Y. The following calculations are then made by the system to determine the selected location along the so defined X and Y axes on the surface.
The actual position on the surface can then be determined from Px and Py by using a mathematical, or empirically determined, model of the signal level gradients for the surface material.
In the present invention the basic items required (i.e., the algorithm and conductive material) have been around for quite some time. The basis for the algorithm dates back centuries. Materials similar to what is suggested for the surface material here, having similar electrical properties have also been around for decades.
The basis of the algorithm of the present invention is the use of triangulation to determine the location of the point on the surface of the object. Triangulation is defined as
Triangulation is a basic tenet of trigonometry and its use in finding the location of a point on the surface of an object has been used for centuries. It is used in applications such as celestial navigation, surveying, the global positioning system (GPS), and seismology.
In the present invention, as is the case in triangulation, position is determined by measuring the relationship at a point of interest to two known points. The relationship is determined from the received signal level at the stylus while injecting signals of known levels at the first two fixed points. All points on the surface that would have that signal level create a line of possible positions. Another relationship is determined using another two fixed points (a different pair of contacts however one contact can be one of those that was included in the first pair of contacts) and another received signal level from the stylus. The intersection of the two lines of possible positions from the two measurements thus tells us where the stylus touched the surface. For some surfaces this may be unique, such as a two dimensional surface or a hemisphere with the contacts mounted on the edge or at the equator.
In theory any position in three dimensional space can be uniquely identified by its distance from four non-coplanar known points, while the number of known points required may be reduced in some cases if the possible positions in three dimensional space are constrained. For the purposes of the present invention the position of interest is constrained to lie on the surface of the known shape of the surface. For a shape such as a rectangle or a circle, a position on the surface may be defined by its distance from three known points on that surface, provided the known points are either all on the edge of the surface shape or not collinear. For the continuous surface shapes of spheres or ellipsoids, a position on the surface of the shape can be defined by its distance from three known points, provided the plane defined by the three known points does not include the center point of the shape. For a cylindrical shape a position on the surface can be defined by its distance from three known points, provided the plane defined by the three known points does not cross the center line of the cylinder.
For a relationship to be determined between a contact and a point on the surface, the point must be in the field of view of a contact pair. That is, as shown in
In practice more contact points may be used due to the finite resolution of real measurement devices. Another factor that may increase the number of contacts is cost. A trade off may be made between the resolution of the receiver and transmitter circuits, and the number of contacts between which the signal is applied to the surface for the measurements. If more contacts are used that are closer together then the resolution of the transmit/receive circuit may be reduced.
The use of resistivity in materials to measure distance or position has been around for a number of years. An early example is the use of rotating, or sliding, potentiometers to determiner the position of a knob or a slide.
Conductive polymers that could be employed by the present invention have been around at least since 1974 when CMI, an early producer of Conductive Polymer Composites, was acquired by the 3M Company.
At a minimum the materials and algorithms utilized by the present invention have been readily available for 20 years, and in all likelihood longer. However, the literature does not teach or suggest the combination of those elements to produce a device like the present invention, in fact all of the known references teach away from this technique.
Then, as in
First, without any signals applied to contacts 12, 14 and 16, processor 30 measures the DC-OFFSET value of the system with stylus 20;
Next an equal amplitude signal is applied to all three of contacts 12, 14 and 16, and processor 30 measures the FULL-SCALE signal value with stylus 20;
The third measurement is made by applying a signal of the amplitude used in the full-scale measurement to one of the three contacts, say contact 12 with a second contact grounded, say contact 14, and the signal measurement made with stylus 20 which will be somewhere along an equipotential line between those two contacts (i.e., line X in FIG. 2);
A fourth measurement is made by applying the signal to, and grounding, a different pair of contacts, say 12 and 16, and the signal measurement made with stylus 20 which will be somewhere along an equipotential line between those two contacts (i.e., line Y in FIG. 2), with the position of stylus 20 being the intersection of lines X and Y; and
The values of PX and PY are then calculated as in equations 1 and 2 above.
In actual operation, each of those steps can be automated by processor 30 without requiring the user to initiate specific measurements or to switch signals.
The values of PX and PY can then be used as an address to a memory within processor 30 from which information relative to the position indicated with the stylus may be obtained. This same technique can also be used to determine the address in memory where data is to initially be stored for later retrieval, or as an address on a remote display that is to be activated for whatever purpose.
Each unique position on the surface is defined by a unique combination of values of PX and PY. From the series of measurements described above, the position of the stylus on the surface may be expressed in terms of PX and PY which will be called the equipotential coordinates. Additional calculations may also be made to convert the position from the equipotential coordinates to another coordinate system, if desired. The conversion requires a known mapping of the equipotential coordinates to the desired coordinate system. The mapping may be determined mathematically for an object made from a homogenous conductive material or one where the resistivity distribution is known. For objects in which the resistivity distribution is not known, the mapping of equipotential coordinates to the desired coordinates may be determined empirically. In either case, the mapping may be stored in the microprocessor's memory and the conversion calculations performed by the microprocessor.
Surface 10 of the present invention uses materials such as carbon loaded polymers or conductive coatings (e.g., 3M Velostat 1840 or 1801) that can be easily molded into, or applied to, two or three dimensional surfaces, including surfaces having complex shapes. A minimal number of drive circuits and connections between that surface and the detection electronics further will reduce the complexity in both the electronics and the mechanical aspects of coupling the surface to the electronics.
More specifically, several embodiments of the present invention are described in the following paragraphs and illustrated starting with FIG. 4.
The embodiment, shown in
Affixed near the edge of sheet 100, and making electrical contact thereto, are contacts 102, 104, and 106. Connected between contacts 102, 104 and 106 on sheet 100 and contacts 126, 128 and 130 of signal generator 122, respectively, are electrically conductive leads 108, 110, and 112.
Signal generator 122 includes a 60 KHz AC signal generator 124 that feeds amplifier 134 with the non-inverting output terminal of amplifier 134 connected to three separate terminals (one corresponding to each of contacts 102, 104 and 106) of switch 132, and the inverting output terminal of amplifier 134 connected to three terminals (one corresponding to each of contacts 102, 104 and 106) of switch 136. Then each of contacts 126, 128 and 130 are each connected to different terminals of each of switches 132 and 136. In
In turn, the position of each of switches 132 and 136 is controlled via cables 138 and 140, respectively, from microprocessor 142 to permit microprocessor 142 to select which of contacts 102, 104 and 106 receive a 60 KHz signal through switch 132 via the associated control lead and which of contacts 102, 104 and 106 receive an inverted 60 KHz signal through switch 136 via the associated control lead.
When a 60 KHz AC signal is connected to one or more of contacts 102, 104 and 106 that signal radiates through the conductive material of sheet 100 and stylus 116 acts as an antenna when brought within proximity of surface 100. A signal detected by stylus 116 is in turn conducted to the signal measurement stage 120 via shielded cable 118. In this embodiment stylus 116 is completely passive and could be fabricated as simply as consisting of a plastic shell enclosing the end of shielded cable 118 with the final ⅛ inches of cable 118, at the distal end of stylus 116, having the shielding removed to allow the center conductor of cable 118 to be exposed to receive radiated signals. Thus, when the tip of the stylus is near the surface of conductive material 100, the radiated signal is received by the stylus antenna and provided as an input signal to signal measurement stage 120.
Signal measurement stage 120 includes a demodulator 144 that is connected to cable 118 where the signal received by stylus 116 is demodulated and the demodulated signal is then in turn presented as a signal level to an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) 146. ADC 146 then digitizes that signal level and presents it to microprocessor 142.
The use of an AC signal in this embodiment makes it possible for stylus 116 to receive signals radiated from the conductive material of sheet 100 without being in direct contact with the conductive material of sheet 100. This allows the conductive material of sheet 100 to be covered with a layer of a non-conductive material for protection from inevitable striking of the surface of sheet 100 with stylus 116, or for placement of application specific graphics over the touch surface, and still allow stylus 116 to act as an antenna to receive a signal from sheet 100 at a selected point that is to be measured by the signal measurement stage 120.
Microprocessor 142 is encoded to direct the performance of a series of measurements with different sets of contacts 102, 104 and 106 connected to receive the 60 KHz signal, or the inverted 60 KHz signal.
Once a user has selected a position on sheet 100 of interest, the system of the present invention performs a series of measurements in rapid succession (e.g., by time-division multiplexing) to determine the location to which stylus 116 is pointed and to provide the user with the information that is sought.
The first measurement, as outlined above, is here called SignalOFFSET, and involves setting switches 132 and 136 to the all open positions. Microprocessor 142 then reads the signal level from signal measurement stage 120 and assigns that value to SignalOFFSET and saves that value in RAM 144.
The second measurement, as outlined above, is here called SignalFULL, involves connecting a 60 KHz AC signal to all of contacts 102, 104 and 106 at the same time by the closure of all three sets of contacts in switch 132. Microprocessor 142 then reads the signal level from signal measurement stage 120 and assigns that value to SignalFULL and saves that value in RAM 144.
Next, microprocessor 142 selects a pair of contacts, say 102 and 104, for use in the next measurement. Contact 102, for this discussion is point A and is connected to receive the 60 KHz AC signal via switch 132. The other of those two contacts, contact 104, which for this discussion is point B is connected to receive the inverted 60 KHz AC signal via switch 136. The third contact 106 is merely connected to open switch sections in both of switches 132 and 136. Microprocessor 142 then stores the signal level from signal measurement stage 120 in RAM 144 and assigns that value the name SignalRAW-AB.
Between the energized contacts 102 and 104, a signal level equipotential map 114A could be drawn due to the effect of the distributed resistance in the conductive material of sheet 100. Signal equipotential maps such as 114A, 114B, and 114C, including the shape and values of the equipotential signal level lines, are stored in ROM 146. As discussed in Electromagnetics, by John D. Kraus and Keith R. Carver, McGraw-Hill, 1973, pp 266-278, these signal equipotential maps are created by finding the unique solution to Laplaces equation (∇2V=0) that satisfies the boundary conditions of sheet 100 and each pair of contacts. There are many methods of finding the solution to Laplace's equation for an object, including, but not limited to, direct mathematical solutions, graphical point-by-point computer modelling, and empirical determination. For homogenous conductive material and simple shapes, a direct mathematical solution may easily be obtained. For materials whose homogeneity, shape or contact placement do not lend themselves to other methods, empirical determination may be used.
In the empirical determination method, a coordinate system is chosen and overlaid on the device. To determine the map for a specific pair of contacts, such as 102 and 104, the contacts are energized in the same manner as for measuring SignalRAW AB above. At each cross point on the chosen coordinate system the value of SignalRAW AB is measured. If the chosen cross point granularity is sufficiently fine the equipotential map may be extracted directly by finding the points that contain the same measured value. Otherwise the equipotential lines may be calculated by interpolating between measured points.
For the third measurement, microprocessor 142 selects another pair of contacts, such as 102 and 106. Contact 102, as discussed above will again be referred to as point A, is connected to receive the 60 KHz AC signal via switch 132 and is the only one of the contacts so connected. The other contact 106, which for this discussion is referred to a point C, is connected to the inverse 60 KHz signal via switch 136. Microprocessor 142 then records the signal level from signal measurement stage 120 and assigns that value the name SignalRAW-AC.
The two signals, SignalRAW-AB and SignalRAW-AC, are affected not only by the material resistance between the contacts but by a number of other factors including the altitude of stylus 116 from the surface of the conductive material of sheet 100, the attitude or angle of stylus 116, and changes in the circuitry from environmental changes, aging, or other factors. The signal, signalFULL, is similarly affected by altitude, attitude, and circuitry changes but has a constant signal equipotential map, thus the value of SignalFULL may be used to normalize the values of SignalRAW-AB and SignalRAW-AC to remove the effects of altitude, attitude, and circuitry changes using the following formula.
Both SignalRAW and SignalFULL are affected by certain changes in the circuitry that produce a DC offset in the final values. Equation 3, if desired, may be modified to remove those effects as shown in equation 4 below.
Applying either formula of equations 3 and 4 to each of SignalRAW-AB and SignalRAW-AC, the normalized signals, SignalNORM-AB and SignalNORM-AC, can be derived.
For example, using the predetermined signal map 114A and the value SignalNORM-AB, the position of stylus 116 may be resolved to a single signal level line, such as 115, between contacts 102 and 104.
Using the predetermined signal map 114B and the value SignalNORM-AC, another signal level line in the signal map 114B can be determined between contacts 102 and 106. The position of stylus 116 is then resolved to the point, P, where the signal level line selected by SignalNORM-AB in 114A crosses the signal level line selected by SignalNORM-AC in 114B.
The use of the resolved point, P, is qualified by microprocessor 142 by comparing the value of SignalFULL to a predetermined threshold level to determine if the received signal is valid. This threshold is generally determined empirically to satisfy the resolution requirements of the application or the user. As the altitude of stylus 116 from the surface of the conductive material of sheet 100 is reduced, the received signal is stronger and the resolution of the position is more precise. Some applications such as drawing tablets, may want a specific altitude threshold in order to match user expectations of operation. In these applications, users do not expect the system to acknowledge the stylus position until the tip is in contact with the surface. Other applications may desire a higher or lower degree of resolution. The application may select the altitude threshold that best matches it's requirements. When a SignalFULL threshold for a particular application is satisfied the resolved point, P, is considered valid.
The measurements outlined above are made in succession and each measurement can typically be made within 4 msec so the entire sequence is completed in 12-16 msec. This is important since the measurement sequence needs to be completed quickly so that any stylus position changes between the measurements are minimized. Substantially faster sample times may be used provided that the capabilities of the signal measurement device are selected accordingly.
To support an application that requires a series of stylus locations in quick succession to be measured, a sample time that is substantially faster than the movement of the stylus needs to be chosen. An application that would require successive stylus location detection would be an electronic drawing pad where the succession of points would form a line. An application of this type may require sample times on the order of 200 microseconds.
In the embodiment discussed above, signal generator 122 produces a 60 KHz AC signal, however, a DC voltage level could alternatively be used. With a DC signal level in lieu of the 60 KHz signal the ability to detect the position of the stylus without making contact between stylus 116 and the conductive material of sheet 100 is eliminated. Since direct contact is made between the stylus and the material, the effects of the altitude and attitude of the stylus no longer contribute to the measurement of SignalRAW since stylus altitude and attitude are the dominant source of variation in the measurement of SignalRAW. The elimination of stylus altitude and attitude from the measurement reduces, or eliminates, the need to normalize SignalRAW with SignalFULL.
More measurements (contacts 104 to 106, i.e., B to C) may also be made to refine/confirm the point to which stylus 116 is being pointed with a minimum number of measurements. Microprocessor 142 could also be programmed to filter measurements to dampen changes made by movement of stylus 116 and to increase resolution.
Synchronous detection technique in the receive demodulator substantially improve noise immunity. The received signal is multiplied by the transmitted signal with a FET switch (e.g., DG441). The resulting multiplied signal is then integrated to determine the DC component. It is the integrated signal that is presented to the ADC for conversion. The net effect of the multiplication and integration is that only received signals of the same frequency and phase to the transmitted signal are seen. Such signals are considered to be synchronous with the transmitter, and therefore the name synchronous demodulation. Effective noise immunity is accomplished since, in general, sources of noise will not be synchronized to the transmitter, and therefore will not be seen after multiplying and integrating. Only the desired portion of the transmitted signal that has been detected by the receiving stylus will be measured.
Special techniques can be used to enhance the accuracy near the edges of a conductive surface. On surfaces of certain shapes, the lines of equipotential may be nearly parallel near the edges, which tends to reduce the positional accuracy. Distance to the edge can be estimated from SignalFULL alone, since SignalFULL tends to fall off somewhat near the edge. Applying an estimate of the distance from the edge to point determined by the intersection of two equipotential lines near the edge can help improve positional accuracy in some cases.
In cases where two electrically isolated surfaces terminate along the same edge, such as the equator on a globe made of isolated Northern and Southern hemispheres, similar techniques can be used to improve positional accuracy near the edge. In such cases distance from the edge can be estimated by comparing SignalFULL from both surfaces, and using the ratio of SignalFULL-A to SignalFULL-B to help eliminate the effects of altitude and attitude.
Once the position indicated by the user is determined, the system might be employed in an application where information relative to that position has been prestored, or is to be stored, in the overall system. To enable that application, RAM 144, ROM 146, audio/video card 150 and CD ROM drive 156 are shown interfacing with microprocessor 142 via a data bus. For example, if surface 100 has an overlay of a map there may be information prestored in ROM 146 or on a CD in CD ROM drive 156 that can be delivered to the user in either audio or visual form via audio/video card 150 and speaker 154 or monitor 152.
The contact resistance of the connections between contacts 102, 104 and 106 and the conductive material of sheet 100 may play a significant role in defining the absolute signal levels in the signal maps (114A, 114B and 114C). That contact resistance affects the absolute value of the signal level but has only a minor effect on the shape or distribution of signal lines. In some cases the contact resistance between one contact and the conductive material of sheet 100 may be of a similar, or a higher, value than the resistance through the conductive material between different contacts. The resistance between a single contact and the conductive material is also subject to change over time due to chemical, or mechanical factors. Contact to conductive material resistance may also differ from unit to unit in a manufactured product.
To automatically compensate for contact-to-conductive material resistance differences, which is addressed in the embodiment of
The first difference between the two figures is in the structure of the contacts affixed to sheet 100. In
For example, contact 102 in
The second difference from the embodiment of
When the input signal passes through the resistance of the contact, the signal level decrease. If the resistance of the contact changes, the signal level changes inversely proportionally to the change in resistance of the contact. Therefore if such a change in the input signal level is inversely compensated for in another way, any change of signal level resulting from a change in the resistance of a contact is negated. Persons skilled in the art of closed loop feedback theory will recognize that the “b” contacts of sheet 100 provide feedback to the “a” contact drive amplifier 202A, 204a and 206a, such that those amplifiers can sense any decrease in signal level due to contact resistance, and provide the necessary signal boost to compensate for loss.
An alternate mechanism for compensating for contact resistance is to determine the current value of the contact resistance and adjust the absolute values in the signal map based on any change in contact resistance value. The embodiment shown in
Again comparing the embodiments of
For any position in the signal map between two points, any change in the resistance of any contact through which current is flowing will modify the signal value observed. For example, for a predetermined, or calculated, signal map such as 114A between contacts 102 and 104 in
To measure and calculate the contact resistance changes at the three contacts 102, 104, and 106 in
The second additional measurement is made with contact 102 connected to the 60 KHz AC signal and contact 106 connected to the inverted 60 KHz AC signal. The fixed point, contact 104, is connected to the signal measurement device. The microprocessor then stores the signal level from the signal measurement stage in RAM as SignalB. The third measurement is made with contact 104 connected to the 60 KHz AC signal and contact 106 connected to the inverted 60 KHz AC signal terminal of amplifier 134. The fixed point, contact 102, is connected to the signal measurement device. The microprocessor then stores the signal level from the signal measurement stage in RAM as SignalA.
Thus, the measured signals levels can be defined by equations 5a-5c:
The values of SignalIN, X, Y, Z, RAB, RAC, and RBC are constant values that may be measured and/or calculated for a particular device and stored in the microprocessors memory. That leaves a series of three simultaneous equations with three variables, i.e., RA, RB, and RC. The microprocessor then can solve those simultaneous equations for the values of RA, RB, and RC, and then the microprocessor can adjust the signal value tables based on the new values of RA, RB, and RC.
An alternate mechanism to driving a pair of contacts and sensing with a receiver connected to the stylus is to use the stylus and one of the contacts as the driving mechanism and to perform sensing with one of the other contacts. A sequence of measurements could be made where another contact is selected as the drive contact and yet another contact is selected as the sense contact.
An alternate drive and measurement method is provided by the use of frequency division multiplexing. Previously discussed methods include a series of measurement steps separated in time. In a frequency division multiplexing method, pairs of contact points are driven simultaneously with different frequency signals. Therefore the signal received by the stylus is a composite of those different frequency signals and thus is distributed to multiple independent signal measurement devices (i.e., sorted by frequency) that each measure the corresponding signal simultaneously. The multiple measurement devices in this embodiment are designed to measure signals within narrow frequency bands. This measurement method offers the possibility of measuring the position in less time however with a more complicated signal drive and measurement detection system.
Several design tradeoffs may be made in the implementation of the present invention for use in a specific device. To enhance resolution a higher resolution signal generation and measurement scheme may be used. Alternately the number of contact points may be increased and an enhanced algorithm implemented that uses subsets of the contact points to resolve stylus touches on different areas of the surface. Another alternative might be the selection of a conductive material and manufacturing method that provides a more homogenous resistivity in the surface. This increases the resolution and allows for calculated, rather than measured signal maps. If the material used is not homogenous, another way that higher resolution may be accomplished is by measuring a more comprehensive signal map that is stored in the microprocessor memory.
The embodiments described in
The present invention may be extended to include other two and three dimensional shapes, both with a surface shape that smoothly changes slope (e.g., a sphere or a saddle shape) and shapes with sharp edges (e.g., a cube or a pyramid) so long as the resistive surface is continuous through those changes of slope and around those sharp edges.
In another embodiment as shown in
The calculation of position is therefore substantially the same as discussed with respect to a pair of contacts thus that discussion and the claims also include this variation.
To resolve the position of stylus 116 on the two dimensional area of the rectangular sheet 100 in the embodiment of
An alternative to using a stylus as the pointing device is the use of a finger as the pointing device. To enable this, a multi-layer material constructed with the inner layer being similar to the conductive material discussed in the previous embodiments may be used. Such a surface is illustrated in
In this configuration, outer conductive layer 501 replaces the attached stylus 116 as in
As mentioned briefly above with respect to
To provide the geographic details of the globe, two vinyl skins 601 and 602, shown here as representing the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth, are placed over sphere 603. Thus when a user uses stylus 116 to point to a location on the globe, the electronics determines the coordinates of that selected location as described above in the discussion with respect to
A database containing features of interest in the world, such as country locations and names, capitals, and populations can be prestored in RAM 144 relative to what ever coordinate system is desired. Thus, when a user selects a point on the globe with the stylus 116, microprocessor 142 determines the coordinates of that position and causes the retrieval of information relative to that position from the database to be presented to the user via, for example, audio/video card 150 and speaker 154.
An alternative implementation of a world globe is illustrated in
In this embodiment each hemisphere has three contact points affixed to the inner edge of each, with hemisphere 701 having contact points 710, 711 and 712, and hemisphere 702 having contact points 740, 741 and 742. Here, each hemisphere is shown with a small hole through the polar cap to permit three insulated conductor cables 730 and 750, respectively, to pass through and have one end of each insulated conductor connect to the three points on the inner edge of the corresponding hemisphere. The other end of each of cables 730 and 750 in-turn are connected to a separate pair of switches in signal generator 722. The upper hemisphere 701 has cable 730 connected to switches 770 and 771, while the lower hemisphere 702 has cable 750 connected to switches 772 and 773.
To make a determination as to which of hemispheres 701 and 702 the user has pointed stylus 116, microprocessor 142 is programmed to make a series of measurements. First, as in many of the embodiments discussed above, with stylus 116 pointing at the selected point on one of the hemispheres, SignalFULL and SignalOFFSET are measured for each hemisphere independently, and then the difference between those measured values for each hemisphere (i.e., SignalFULL-701-SignalOFFSET-701, and SignalFULL-702-SignalOFFSET-702) is determined and stored in RAM 144. In short, SignalFULL is measured by applying the 60 KHz AC signal to all of the contact points on the surface, and SignalOFFSET is measured will all of the corresponding switch contacts in signal generator 722 for that surface open. Once those difference values are determined, each of those difference values is compared to a pre-selected threshold value. The threshold value is determined empirically and typically are the value measured when the stylus tip is within 0.10 inches from the surface. It is then noted which, if any, of those difference values exceeds the threshold and does so with the greatest margin with the corresponding hemisphere being identified as the one to which stylus 116 is being pointed.
Once the hemisphere of interest has been determined, microprocessor 142 then calculates the position selected by the sequence of calculations outlined above with respect to FIG. 4. Thus, four measurements, SignalFULL, signalOFFSET, SignalRAW-AB and SignalRAW-AC are made on the identified hemisphere and the values of SignalNORM-AB and SignalNORM-AC are calculated as in equation 4 with those values defining a unique location on that hemisphere.
The unique location provided by the values of SignalNORM-AB and SignalNORM-AC, together with the results of the threshold test to determine which hemisphere is of interest to the user, may then be mapped into a location on the globe by means of a look-up table for the selected hemisphere, if necessary, to obtain the longitude and latitude of the point selected, in a standard globe coordinate system. Then, as discussed with respect to
In addition to the user acting as an antenna and picking up atmopsheric noise and signals as described in the Background of the Invention above, there is another secondary effect that can potentially occur if the user is not grounded with respect to the system of the present invention. Since in the present invention the surface to which the user points the probe, in the AC mode, is radiating a different signal at different surface coordinates, a portion of the user's hand, perhaps a finger or thumb, while holding the probe at the desired location may pick-up a different signal from another location spaced away from the location of interest. In such a situation the antenna of the probe can potentially be influenced by that secondary signal capacitively coupled from the surface to the user and then coupled to the antenna of the probe. That secondary signal could result in a modified signal being received by the signal measurement stage 120. That modified signal from the surface might then be processed to identify a location other than the actual location to which the user has pointed the probe tip.
For example, assume that the user has pointed the probe tip at Chicago on the surface of a globe of the present invention. In holding the probe tip at that location the user's thumb might extend east and be close to Detroit while several of the user's fingers extend west of Chicago toward Quincy, Ill. on the Mississippi River. What indeed might happen is that a mix of signals from the location to which the probe is pointed, together with a signal from each finger and the thumb of the user could be received by the signal measurement stage 120 as an averaged signal resulting in the identification of the selected point as a location between Detroit and Quincy, or even somewhere else on the surface that is not even close to the location selected by the user, perhaps Tokyo. Even worse, the signal received by the antenna of the probe may be so complex as a result of all of the various signals coupled to it that the signal measurement stage is unable to identify any location that corresponds to the combined signal. By inclusion of the mechanism to ground the user with respect to the system, as discussed below, this potential problem, as well as any influence created by atmospheric noise as discussed in the Background of the Invention will be resolved by virtually eliminating the other signals coupled to the antenna of the probe from the user.
In each of the embodiments wherein a radiated AC signal is detected by stylus 116 acting as an antenna (see
In prior art situations that require an antenna at the distal end of a cable to use as a pointer in a system for locating the point to which the stylus is pointed, the internal circuit configuration of that stylus is very complex.
There are several differences that can be seen between this design of stylus 916 and stylus 116 of the present invention. First, and foremost is the active circuit design of the prior art that includes two transistors, and specialty design IC, numerous capacitors, inductors and resistors, a power switch and a potentiometer requiring extensive assembly, as opposed to the passive circuit design of the present invention. In addition to the active circuit design there is the necessity of a formed metal shield 920 at the antenna end of stylus 916 to exclude spurious responses from interfering with the signal received from the antenna. There is also a labor-intensive step of calibrating stylus 916 to the system with which it is to be used by means of potentiometer 922. Another added cost item is the use of a four wire cable 918 that is necessary to perform several functions; a shield; a line to carry the received signal back to the main chassis of the product; and two wires to carry power to stylus 920. Finally there is the power switch 912 that needs to be depressed during use to power stylus 916 which can present a problem if the intended user is a child, as is the case with the SEGA product.
A first embodiment of this aspect of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 14b. In this view the connections at the proximate end of shielded cable 118 are the same as in FIG. 14a. At the distal end of stylus 116 there are some changes that have been made to effect the grounding of the user when holding stylus 116 to eliminate the parallel antenna effect inadvertently created by the user holding stylus 116 near center conductor/antenna 802′. Here it can be seen that the distal end of shielded cable 118, in addition to having center conductor 802′ exposed, has a portion of shield 800′ exposed. In addition, stylus 116 defines a hole 804 therethrough so that when a user holds stylus 116 a portion of one of the user's fingers must extend through hole 804 and make contact with shield 800′, thus grounding the user.
A second embodiment of this aspect of the present invention is illustrated in
Additionally, it is well known by those skilled in the art how one would store data relative to points on any surface that might be employed with the present invention, as would be look-up tables to convert one coordinate system for a surface to another coordinate system.
While the discussion of the various embodiments of the present invention presented above address a variety of shapes and applications for the present invention, the shapes and applications addressed are clearly not an exhaustive list. One could easily extend such lists to many other shapes and applications and the techniques discussed above could easily be extended to each of them. Thus, the present invention is not limited solely to the scope of what has been discussed above, but rather is only limited by the scope of the claims appended hereto.
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|Sep 11, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC.;LFC VENTURES, LLC;REEL/FRAME:021511/0441
Effective date: 20080828
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC.;LFC VENTURES, LLC;REEL/FRAME:021511/0441
Effective date: 20080828
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.,CALIFORNIA
Effective date: 20080828
|Oct 16, 2009||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: AMENDED AND RESTATED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:023379/0220
Effective date: 20090813
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.,CALIFORNIA
Effective date: 20090813
Free format text: AMENDED AND RESTATED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:023379/0220
Effective date: 20090813
|Aug 11, 2010||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12