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Touch sensor with force-actuated switched capacitor

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Title: Touch sensor with force-actuated switched capacitor.
Abstract: This disclosure provides apparatus, systems and methods of fabricating force-sensitive switches. In some implementations, an array of force-sensitive switches and local capacitors of a combined sensor device may be used to connect the local capacitor into associated projected capacitive touch (PCT) detection circuitry. In some implementations, each capacitor may be formed with a thin dielectric layer to achieve a high capacitance increase when the force-sensitive switch is closed, e.g., by the pressing of a stylus or finger. In some implementations, the same PCT detection circuitry can be used to detect changes in mutual capacitance when touched with a finger (touch mode) and changes in sensel capacitance when the force-sensitive switch is depressed (stylus or fingerprint mode). ...


Qualcomm Mems Technologies, Inc. - Browse recent Qualcomm patents - San Diego, CA, US
Inventor: Russel Allyn Martin
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120092279 - Class: 345173 (USPTO) - 04/19/12 - Class 345 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120092279, Touch sensor with force-actuated switched capacitor.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/394,054, entitled “COMBINATION TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045P/102908P1) and filed on Oct. 18, 2010, which is hereby incorporated by reference and for all purposes. This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “COMBINATION TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045A/102908U1) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “FABRICATION OF TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045B/102908U2) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR WITH ELASTOMERIC SPACER LAYER” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045C/102908U3) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “WRAPAROUND ASSEMBLY FOR COMBINATION TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045E/102908U5) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “MULTIFUNCTIONAL INPUT DEVICE FOR AUTHENTICATION AND SECURITY APPLICATIONS” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045F/102908U6) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, to U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, entitled “CONTROLLER ARCHITECTURE FOR COMBINATION TOUCH, HANDWRITING AND FINGERPRINT SENSOR” (Attorney Docket No. QUALP045G/102908U7) and filed on Oct. 11, 2011, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference and for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to display devices, including but not limited to display devices that incorporate multifunctional touch screens.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED TECHNOLOGY

Electromechanical systems (EMS) include devices having electrical and mechanical elements, actuators, transducers, sensors, optical components (including mirrors) and electronics. Electromechanical systems can be manufactured at a variety of scales including, but not limited to, microscales and nanoscales. For example, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices can include structures having sizes ranging from about a micron to hundreds of microns or more. Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) devices can include structures having sizes smaller than a micron including, for example, sizes smaller than several hundred nanometers. Electromechanical elements may be created using deposition, etching, lithography, and/or other micromachining processes that etch away parts of substrates and/or deposited material layers, or that add layers to form electrical and electromechanical devices.

One type of EMS device is called an interferometric modulator (IMOD). As used herein, the term interferometric modulator or interferometric light modulator refers to a device that selectively absorbs and/or reflects light using the principles of optical interference. In some implementations, an interferometric modulator may include a pair of conductive plates, one or both of which may be transparent and/or reflective, wholly or in part, and capable of relative motion upon application of an appropriate electrical signal. In an implementation, one plate may include a stationary layer deposited on a substrate and the other plate may include a reflective membrane separated from the stationary layer by an air gap. The position of one plate in relation to another can change the optical interference of light incident on the interferometric modulator. Interferometric modulator devices have a wide range of applications, and are anticipated to be used in improving existing products and creating new products, especially those with display capabilities.

The increased use of touch screens in handheld devices causes increased complexity and cost for modules that now include the display, the touch panel and a cover glass. Each layer in the device adds thickness and requires costly glass-to-glass bonding solutions for attachment to the neighboring substrates. These problems can be further exacerbated for reflective displays when a frontlight also needs to be integrated, adding to the thickness and cost of the module.

SUMMARY

The systems, methods and devices of the disclosure each have several innovative aspects, no single one of which is solely responsible for the desirable attributes disclosed herein. Some implementations described herein provide a combined sensor device that combines aspects of capacitive and resistive technologies for touch sensing, handwriting input and fingerprint imaging. Some such implementations provide a touch sensor that combines capacitive and resistive technologies to enable a multi-feature user input sensor overlaid on a display.

In some such implementations, a cover glass apparatus of a consumer device such as a cell phone, an e-reader, or a tablet computer serves additionally as part of a combined sensor device having a single or multi-touch sensor, a handwriting or stylus input device, and/or a fingerprint sensor. The cover glass apparatus may include 2, 3 or more layers. The substrates used to form a cover glass apparatus may be formed of various suitable substantially transparent materials, such as actual glass, plastic, polymer, etc. Such a cover glass apparatus with touch, handwriting and/or fingerprint detection capability may, for example, be overlaid on a display.

One innovative aspect of the subject matter described in this disclosure can be implemented in an apparatus that includes a first substantially transparent substrate having first rows of substantially transparent conductor formed thereon. A first substantially transparent insulator may be formed on the first rows of conductor. A second substantially transparent conductor may be formed in discontinuous areas of second rows on the first insulator.

The apparatus may include a second substantially transparent and flexible substrate having a third substantially transparent conductor formed in columns thereon. In some implementations, the columns may be substantially orthogonal to the rows. The apparatus may include a substantially transparent elastomeric material formed in second portions of the discontinuous areas of the second conductor. The elastomeric material may extend from the discontinuous areas to the second substrate between the columns on the second substrate. The apparatus may include force-sensitive resistor material disposed between the rows and the columns.

The apparatus may include substantially transparent resistors formed in first portions of the discontinuous areas. The columns may overlap the resistors. The second conductor, the resistors and the third conductor may form switches that can be closed when sufficient force and/or pressure is applied to the second substrate. The apparatus may include an analog-to-digital converter and/or a leakage resistor.

The first conductor, the first insulator and the second conductor may form a first capacitor. The apparatus may include a second capacitor configured in parallel with the first capacitor. The second conductor, a resistor and the third conductor may form a switch that can be closed when sufficient force and/or pressure is applied to the second substrate. The switch may be configured in series with the second capacitor. A capacitance of the first capacitor may be modulated when a conducting object is near the second substrate.

The apparatus may include a sensor controller that is configured for communication with the first conductor, the second conductor and the third conductor. The sensor controller may include a touch sensor controller, a handwriting sensor controller and/or a fingerprint sensor controller. The apparatus may include a display and a processor that is configured to communicate with the display and with the sensor controller. The processor may be configured to process image data.

The apparatus may include a memory device that is configured to communicate with the processor. The apparatus may include a driver circuit configured to send at least one signal to the display and a controller configured to send at least a portion of the image data to the driver circuit. The apparatus may include an image source module configured to send the image data to the processor. The image source module may include at least one of a receiver, transceiver, and transmitter. The apparatus may include an input device configured to receive input data and to communicate the input data to the processor.

Another innovative aspect of the subject matter described in this disclosure can be implemented in a method that involves forming first rows of substantially transparent conductor material on a first substantially transparent substrate, forming a first substantially transparent insulator on the first rows of conductor material and forming second substantially transparent conductor material in discontinuous areas of second rows on the first insulator.

A method of this type may involve forming third substantially transparent conductor material in columns on a second substantially transparent and flexible substrate. The columns may be substantially orthogonal to the rows. The method may involve forming substantially transparent elastomeric material in second portions of the discontinuous areas of the second conductor. The elastomeric material may extend from the discontinuous areas to the second substrate between the columns on the second substrate.

The method may involve forming substantially transparent resistors in first portions of the discontinuous areas. The second conductor material, the resistors and the third conductor material may be formed into a switch that can be closed when sufficient force and/or pressure is applied to the second substrate. The switch may be configured in series with the second capacitor. The first conductor material, the first insulator and the second conductor material may form a capacitor. The method may involve forming force-sensitive resistor material between the rows and the columns.

The method may involve configuring a sensor controller for communication with the first conductor, the second conductor and the third conductor. The method may involve configuring the sensor controller to function as a touch sensor controller and/or as a handwriting sensor controller.

The method may involve attaching the apparatus to a display. The method also may involve configuring the sensor controller for communication with a processor that is configured for controlling the display.

Details of one or more implementations of the subject matter described in this specification are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Although the examples provided in this summary are primarily described in terms of MEMS-based displays, the concepts provided herein may apply to other types of displays, such as liquid crystal displays, organic light-emitting diode (“OLED”) displays and field emission displays. Other features, aspects, and advantages will become apparent from the description, the drawings, and the claims. Note that the relative dimensions of the following figures may not be drawn to scale.



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Computer graphics processing, operator interface processing, and selective visual display systems
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120092279 A1
Publish Date
04/19/2012
Document #
13271063
File Date
10/11/2011
USPTO Class
345173
Other USPTO Classes
361749, 29829
International Class
/
Drawings
36


Mutual Capacitance


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