US 7,158,376 B2 9 10

US 7,158,376 B2 9 10
US 7,158,376 B2
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FIG. 7 illustrates a detail View of the embodiment 100
10
can communicate through a clear plastic case to another
shown in FIG. 6. Front case 102 and rear case 104 arejoined
infrared transceiver outside of the case. Further, the approat hinge 114. Overmolded gasket 106 traps membrane 110
priate selection of material for the protective case can
and o-ring 302 locks membrane 110 in place. Overrnolded
thereby enable various RF transmissions, such as cellular
gasket 106 may be formed by molding thermoplastic polyphone communications or other wireless communication
merized rubber over the front cover 102.
protocols.
The replacement of the membrane 110 is accomplished by
An infrared transmission through the protective case of an
removing o-ring 302, pushing the membrane 110 from the
embodiment of the invention may be accomplished by
overmolded gasket 106, snapping a new membrane 110 into
making the entire protective case out of a clear material.
10
place, and replacing the o-ring 302. The ease of replacement
Alternatively, a selected area of the protective case may be
of the present embodiment allows a user to quickly replace
clear while the remainder of the case is opaque. The selected
a damaged membrane 110, allows a user to upgrade their
area may be constructed of a separate piece that allows the
case to a newer model PDA, and may allow a user to select
infrared light through the protective case. Alternatively, the
from various membranes 110 for the particular application.
selected area may be constructed of a portion of the protec15
One embodiment may have a single case packaged with a
tive case that manufactured in a way so as not to be opaque,
small variety of several types of membranes 110. In such an
such as selectively not painting or plating the area of a
embodiment, the user may purchase the packaged set, select
plastic protective case. Further, the clear material through
the membrane 110 that suits the user’s particular PDA, and
which the transmission occurs may be tinted in the visual
install the selected membrane 110 with ease.
spectrum but be translucent or at least partially transparent
20
The protective cover of the present invention may have
in the infrared spectrum of the device.
direct connections through the cover for connecting through
A protective case may allow RF transmissions to and from
the case. Such a connection is known as pass through. The
the PDA while the case is closed. Such a case may be
constructed of a non-metallic material. In some embodiconnections may be for power, communication, heat dissipation, optical transmissions, mechanical motion, or other
ments, the material of the protective case may be tuned to
reasons.
25
allow certain frequencies to pass through the protective
Electrical connections may require an insulated metal
cover and tune out other frequencies, through loading the
conductor from the PDA through the wall of the protective
material used in the protective cover with conductive media
cover so that a flexible cable may be attached or so that the
or through varying the thickness of the case and other
PDA in its protective case may be placed in a cradle for
geometries of the case in the area of the PDA transmission
30
making the electrical connection. Inside the protective
and reception antenna.
cover, the electrical connections may be made with a flexible
In a different embodiment, it may be desirable to shield
the PDA from outside RF interference. In this case, the
cable that is plugged into the PDAs electrical connector
before the PDA is secured in the protective cover. Alternaprotective cover may be a metallic construction or may be
tively, a fixed connector may be attached to the protective
plastic with a metallized coating. Further, membrane 110
35
cover and the PDA is slid into contact with the fixed
may have a light metallized coating applied so that memconnector. Another embodiment may be for a compliant, yet
brane 110 is slightly or fully conductive. An application for
fixed mounted electrical coimector to be rigidly mounted
such an embodiment may be the use of the PDA in an area
inside the protective cover. A compliant, yet fixed mounted
of high RF noise that may interfere with the operation of the
electrical connector may comprise spring loaded probes,
PDA, or conversely, the use may be in an area that is highly
40
commonly referred to as pogo pins. Another embodiment
susceptible to external RF interference and the PDAs RF
may comprise spring fingers that engage the PDAs electrical
noise may be interfering with some other device.
contacts. On the outside of the protective cover, the electriThe PDA may be equipped with a camera or other video
cal contacts may be terminated into a fix-mounted connector
capture device. A protective cover may have provisions to
adapted to receive a cable from a computer. The connector
allow a clear image to be seen by the video capture device
45
may be designed to receive a cable that plugs directly into
through the case. Such provisions may include an optically
the PDA or it may be adapted to receive a different connecclear insert assembled into the protective case. Other
tor. Further, the electrical connection to the PDA may be
embodiments may have a sliding trap door whereby the user
permanently attached to a cable that extends out of the
of the PDA may slide the door open for the camera to see.
protective cover. Another embodiment may be to have a
Additionally, other embodiments may comprise a molded
50
small trap door that opens in the protective cover to allow
case that has an optically clear lens integrally molded. Such
access to the electrical connections. While the trap door
an embodiment may be additionally painted, plated, or
exposes the PDA to the elements the cover is designed to
overrnolded, with the lens area masked so that the painting,
protect against, a direct electrical connection may eliminate
plating, or overrnolding does not interfere with the optics of
the lens.
a potential cabling connection problem. Connections for
55
fiber optics can be handled in similar fashions as the
An optically clear area may be used for a barcode scanner
electrical connections. An embodiment with a power conportion of a PDA to scan through the case to the outside
nection may comprise the use of inductive coils located in
world. In such an embodiment, a barcode scanner may be
proximity to each other but on opposite sides of the protecprotected from the elements while still maintaining full
tive cover. Those skilled in the art of may devise other
functionality in the outside world.
60
embodiments for connecting through the protective cover
The PDA may have indicator lights that indicate various
without deviating from the scope and intent of the present
items, such as power, battery condition, communication, and
invention.
other status items. The indicator lights may be in positions
Through the air communications, such as infrared and
on the PDA that are not readily viewable through the
over the air radio frequency (RF) communications may pass
protective membrane 110. The indicator lights may be made
65
through the protective cover. The material for the front case
visible through the protective case by using light pipes that
102 and rear case 104 may be selected to be clear plastic,
transmit the light from the PDAs status light to the outside
such as polycarbonate. The infrared transceiver of the PDA
of the protective case. Such light pipes may be constructed
US 7,158,376 B2
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of clear or tinted plastic, or other translucent or semitransparent material. The light pipes may be formed as an
integral feature to the protective case or may be separate
parts that are formed separately and assembled to the
protective case.
tion, and being occasionally rained upon. Further, the low
cost of the embodiment 800 may be changed often during
the life of the PDA 802.
distortion. Other embodiments may include a transmissive
membrane adapted to allow sound to pass through the
protective case with a minimum of distortion. Such membranes may be located near the speaker and microphone
elements of the PDA. Such membranes may be watertight
membranes known by the brand name Gore-Tex.
The PDA may generate heat during its use and provisions
for dissipating the heat may be built into the protective
cover. A heat-dissipating device may be integral to the
protective cover or may comprise one or more separate
parts. For example, a metallic protective cover may be
adapted to touch the PDA in the area of heat generation and
conduct the heat outwardly to the rest of the protective
cover. The protective cover may thereby dissipate the heat to
the external air without overheating the PDA. In another
example, a separate heat sink may be applied to the PDA and
allowed to protrude through a hole in the protective cover.
The heat sink may thereby transfer the heat from the PDA to
the ambient environment without overheating the PDA. The
heat sinks may be attached to the PDA with a thermally
conductive adhesive. Other embodiments may include vent
holes for heat dissipation and air circulation.
The PDA may have a button that may not be located
undemeath the membrane 110. An embodiment may include
a flexible, pliable, or otherwise movable mechanism that
may transmit mechanical motion from the outside of the
case to a button on the PDA. Such an embodiment may have
a molded dimpled surface that is pliable and allows a user to
activate a button on a PDA by pressing the dimpled surface.
Another embodiment may have a rigid plunger that is
mounted on a spring and adapted to transmit the mechanical
movement from the exterior of the case to a button on the
Embodiment 900 may be a cover for decorative purposes
only, or may be for protective purposes as well. Cover 902
may be emblazoned with logos, designs, or other visual
embellishments to personalize the PDA 904. The colors,
logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the cover
904. Altematively, different colors, logos, and designs may
be applied in a secondary operation such as printing, painting, plating, or other application process.
Embodiment 900 may be attached by snapping the cover
902 onto PDA 904. Special provisions in the case of PDA
904 may be provided for a snapping feature of cover 902, or
cover 902 may be adapted to hold onto PDA 904 without the
use of special features in PDA 904.
The features used to secure cover 902 to PDA 904 may be
any mechanism whereby the cover 902 can be secured. This
includes snapping, clamping, fastening, sliding, gluing,
adhering, or any other method for securing two components
together.
FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment
of a receiver 1002 for holding the protective case 100. The
protective case 100 is held into receiver 1002 in such a
manner that the touch screen display is facing into the
receiver 1002, to afford the touch screen display with
protection.
FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
of a receiver 1002 shown from the opposite side as FIG. 10.
Receiver 1002 is comprised of a back 1102, a belt clip
mechanism 1104, and four clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and
1112. The protective case 100 is placed into the receiver
1002 by inserting one end into the receiver, then rotating the
protective case 100 into position such that the snapping
action of clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 are engaged
to hold protective case 100 securely.
Receiver 1002 may be adapted to clip onto a person’s belt
or may be adapted to be mounted on a wall or other location
where the PDA may be stored. The orientation of the
protective case 100 is such that the touch screen element of
the PDA is protected during normal transport and storage,
since the touch screen interface is facing the back 1102 of
the receiver 1002.
Embodiment 800 may have custom colors, logos, or
designs that allow a user to personalize their PDA with a
specific cover that is suited to their mood or tastes. The
The PDA may have a speaker or other element that makes
colors, logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the
noise and/or the PDA may have a microphone for receiving
cover 804. Altematively, different colors, logos, and designs
audio signals. The speaker may be an audio quality device
may be applied in a secondary operation such as printing,
for reproducing sound or it may be a simple buzzer for 10
painting, plating, or other application process.
indicating various functions of the PDA. The microphone
FIG. 9 is an illustration of embodiment 900 of the present
may be an audio quality device or it may be a low perforinvention wherein a decorative cover 902 is snapped over a
mance device. Special provisions may be made for transPDA 904. The ends 906 and 908 snap over the PDA ends
910 and 912 as an attachment mechanism for cover 902 to
mitting sound through a protective case. Such provisions
15
may range from a single hole in the case to a tuned cavity
PDA 904. Recessed area 914 is adapted to fit against touch
screen 916
that would allow sound to pass through with minimum
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45
PDA. The buttons on the PDA may be located on any side 50
of the PDA and an embodiment of a case may have pliable
areas adapted to allow the user to press buttons that are not
on the front face of the PDA.
FIG. 8 is an illustration of embodiment 800 of the present
invention wherein the PDA 802 is encapsulated by a pro- 55
tective cover 804. The installation of the PDA 802 is to slide
PDA 802 into the opening 808, then fold door 806 closed
Receiver 1002 may be made of compliant plastic that
and secure with flap 810, which is hinged along line 812.
allows the clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 to move out
Areas 814 and 816 may comprise a hook and loop fastener
of the way and spring back during insertion or removal of
system or other fastening device. Recessed area 818 is 60 the protective case 100. In the present embodiment, receiver
adapted to fit against touch screen 820 of PDA 802.
1002 may be constructed of a single part. In alternative
Embodiment 800 may be comprised of a single molded
embodiments, receiver 1002 may be constructed of multiple
plastic part that may be very low cost. As shown, embodiparts and of multiple materials, such as a metal back with
ment 800 may not be completely weathertight, since the
spring loaded clips. In other embodiments, special features
65
door 806 does not completely seal the enclosure. However,
may be included in the protective case 100 where the
such an embodiment may afford considerable protection to
receiver 1002 may engage a special feature for securing the
the PDA 802 in the areas of dust protection, scratch protecprotective case 100.
US 7,158,376 B2
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FIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment 1200 of the present
flat-panel control which allows undistorted viewing but does
invention of a protective cover for a PDA or other device. A
not adversely affect the control since the interactive control
rigid front cover 1202 and a rigid rear cover 1204 are held
uses capacitance or radio frequencies for interactive input
together with a series of latches 1206, 1208, 1210, and 1212.
instead of mechanical pressure.
5
The protective membrane 1214 protects the touchscreen of
The protective screen membrane 1306 in the embodiment
the enclosed PDA. A folding rigid cover 1216 operates as a
of FIG. 13A is at least partially transparent and has a
rigid shield to prevent the membrane 1214 from any damthickness of approximately 0.010 inches. The thickness of
age. The stylus holder 1220 is formed from an overmolded
the protective screen membrane 1306 should be typically in
flexible material in which the membrane 1214 is mounted.
the range of 0.001 inches to 0.020 inches so that stylus
10
Embodiment 1200 illustrates yet another embodiment of
strokes on the upper surface of protective screen membrane
the present invention wherein a rigid protective cover may
1306 are transmitted accurately to the interactive flat-panel
be used to contain and protect an electronic device, but
control of the tablet PC 1302. Likewise, protective screen
provide full usable access to a touchscreen. The protective
membrane 1306 may be flexible or semi-rigid and may be
membrane 1214 and case may be watertight in some
made of polyvinylchloride or other suitable transparent
15
embodiments.
thermoplastic, such as, for example, polyvinylchloride, therFIG. 13A illustrates an embodiment of a protective enclomoplastic polycarbonate, thermoplastic polypropylene, thersure 1300 that encloses and protects a tablet PC 1302. PDAs
moplastic acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, thermoplastic
that have touch screens, as described above, have an interpolyurethane, which has a hardness and texture that permits
active flat-panel control, i.e., the touch screen display. Tablet
the stylus to smoothly glide across the surface without
20
PCs are portable electronic computing devices that have a
skipping, grabbing, or catching against the surface. Some
high-resolution interactive flat-panel control that accepts
tablet PC’s utilize a stylus which transmits strokes to the PC
smooth stylus strokes such as handwriting. The embodiment
by way of radio frequency transmission. Protective screen
of FIG. 13A is crush-resistant, impact-resistant, watertight,
membrane 1306 may be made of a rigid, clear, engineered
and simultaneously allows interactive stylus strokes and
thermoplastic such as, for example, thermoplastic polycar25
other sensitive user inputs to be accurately and easily
bonate or other thermoplastics as described above, for
transmitted through a protective screen membrane 1306 to
enclosing a tablet PC. A protective screen membrane 1306
the interactive flat-panel control of tablet PC 1302.
that is rigid may include watertight access ports that allow
A watertight and shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310
operation of mechanical buttons or switches of the tablet PC
may be fixed and sealed to the underside of the lid 1304
1302, such as, for example, control buttons 1308. The
30
around the interactive flat-panel control opening. The prowatertight access ports may include holes that have a
tective screen membrane 1306 is fixed and sealed to the
moveable watertight plug, or any type of watertight button
shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310. The shock-absorbing
or lever. Protective screen membrane 1306 may include an
foam cushion 1310 maintains the watertightness of the
anti-glare coating or can be made with an anti-glare texture
enclosure. The cushion 1310 also cushions the flat-panel
so that display images are clearly viewable without distor35
control of the tablet PC 1302 and protects it against breakage
tion through the protective screen membrane 1306.
In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the lid 1304 of the
if the enclosure and tablet PC are dropped or otherwise
subjected to shock. In accordance with the embodiment of
protective enclosure 1300 may have an extemal stylus
FIG. 13A, the shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310 has a
holder 1324 that securely holds a stylus used with the tablet
PC 1302.
thickness of approximately 0.25 inches and extends approxi40
mately 0.060 inches below the underside of the interactive
As described above with respect to FIG. 1, the lid 1304
flat-panel control opening of the lid 1304. One source of
and the base 1312 may have air-permeable watertight vents
suitable watertight shock-absorbing foam is E.A.R. Spe1318, 1326 that permit the cooling fans of the tablet PC 1302
cialty Composites of 7911 Zionville Rd., Indianapolis, Ind.
to force air exchange to dissipate heat by convection so that
46268. Cushion 1310 allows the protective screen memthe tablet PC 1302 does not overheat. Watertight vents 1318,
45
brane to move a distance of up to 0.125 inches during an
1326 may comprise holes in the lid 1304 and base 1312 that
impact to the enclosure or when pressure is applied to
are made watertight by covering and sealing the holes with
protect membrane 1306 while pushing the tablet PC control
an air-permeable watertight membrane such as, for example,
buttons 1308 or writing on the interactive flat-panel control
a fabricated expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE)
with a stylus through the membrane. The shock-absorbing
membrane. One source that fabricated expanded polytet50
foam cushion 1310 also pushes the protective screen memrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes is available from is W.
brane 1306 flatly against the surface of the interactive
L. Gore & Associates, Inc. of 555 Paperrnill Road, Newark,
Del. 19711.
flat-panel control of the tablet PC 1302 so that sensitive user
stylus strokes and other inputs are accurately transmitted.
The embodiment of FIG. 13A may also comprise a pod
door 1322 that allows access to table PC interfaces such as,
The pressure of the cushion 1310 on the protective screen
55
membrane 1306 which holds the protective screen memfor example, PCMCIA or Smart Card slots. The pod door
brane 1306 flatly against the interactive flat-panel control of
1322 is attached to the lid 1304 so that it may be removed
the tablet PC 1302 also keeps display images, viewed
or opened. In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the pod door
through the protective screen membrane, clear and distor1322 is hingedly connected to a portion of the base 1312 at
tion-free. In embodiments of the protective enclosure to
a location of the base 1312 that has an opening that allows
60
protect a touch-screen device, the protective membrane may
access to the tablet PC interfaces. The opening can be
be adjacent to the touch screen but does not exert mechanical
covered by a watertight seal 1320, such as, for example, an
pressure on the touch screen so that mechanical inputs such
O-ring that is part of pod door 1322.
as style strokes are sensed only when intended. In embodiThe underside of the lid 1304 also has a watertight seal,
ments of the protective enclosure to protect a tablet PC that
such as an O-ring, so that when compound latches 1328,
65
has an RF stylus or to protect a handheld device that a
1330, 1332 and 1334 are closed, the O-ring or seal of the lid
capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel control, the pro1304 forms a watertight seal against the base 1312. The
tective membrane may be pressed flat against the interactive
protective enclosure 1300 protects the tablet PC 1302 from
US 7,158,376 B2
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water and dust intrusion sufficient to comply with Ingress
Protection (IP) rating of IP 67, i.e., the protective enclosure
totally protects the enclosed tablet PC from dust and protects
the enclosed tablet PC from the effects of immersion in one
meter of water for 30 minutes.
As shown in FIG. 15, an adjustable heavy-duty handle
may be attached to the base 1516 of the protective enclosure
1500 to allow easy and reliable transportation of the protective enclosure 1500 that encloses a tablet PC. In some
circumstances, it is convenient to hold the protective enclosure using hand strap 1514 that is made of strong slightly
The protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
stretchable fabric. Hand strap 1514 attaches to four points of
may further comprise protective overmolding 1316 attached
the base 1516 to that a user’s hand or wrist can be inserted
to the lid 1304. A similar overmolding may be attached to the
base 1312. The protective overmolding 1316 may be made 10 along the either the longer or shorted length on the protective
enclosure 1500 and enclosure tablet PC. Hand strap 1514
of material that is easily gripped in slippery conditions and
may be made of neoprene or other strong stretchable mateprovides additional shock absorption such as, for example,
rial to securely hold the protective enclosure to the user’s
rubber or silicone. The protective overmolding 1316 extends
arm even in slippery conditions. The protective enclosure
above the surface of the lid in pre-determined areas to
provide protrusions that are easily gripped even in slippery 15 may further include a neck strap to provide a comfortable
solution for using the tablet PC while standing.
conditions. The protective enclosure of the embodiment of
FIG. 16 illustrates a top view of the protective enclosure
FIG. 13 may further comprise watertight plugs such as
base 1600. Watertight vents such as watertight vent 1616
access port plug 1314 that fit snugly into openings in the
allow air exchange for heat dissipation and sound transmisbase 1312 that provide access to various interfaces, consion from an enclosed tablet PC. Seal rim 1614 is an
necters and slots of the tablet PC 1302.
20
FIG. 13B illustrates a shell lid 1304 of the embodiment of
integrally formed part of the protective enclosure 1600
which is compressed against an O-ring in the protective
FIG. 13A. Shell lid 1304 and base 1312 may be made of
enclosure lid to provide a watertight seal when compound
impact/crush resistant material such as glass-fiber reinforced
latches 1628, 1630, 1632, 1634 are closed onto the lid.
engineered thermoplastic, such as for example, glass reinIntemal bumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 attach to the
forced polycarbonate. Alternatively, the shell lid 1304 and 25
interior corners of protective enclosure base 1600 to provide
shell base may be made of thermoplastic polycarbonate,
cushion and mechanical shock protection to an enclosed
thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrylonitriletablet PC. The L-shape and non-solid interior of intemal
butadiene-styrene, and thermoplastic compositions containbumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 allows the bumpers to
ing one or more thereof, or other engineered thermoplastics
deflect and absorb the shock if the enclosed tablet PC is
that provide a shock-resistant and impact resistant shell may 30
dropped or otherwise subjected to mechanical shock. The
be used. The engineered thermoplastics may be reinforced
protective enclosure provides shock absorption sufficient to
with glass fibers, carbon fibers, metal fibers, polyarnide
meet MIL-STD 8l0F, Method 516.5, Procedure 4 which is
fibers and mixtures thereof. Shell lid 1304 may be further
a Transit Drop Test. In the Transit Drop Test, the protective
reinforced with stilfeners 1334, 1336, 1338, 1340 that are
integrally embedded into the shell lid around the perimeter 35 enclosure encloses a tablet PC or a mass equivalent to a
tablet PC. The protective enclosure is sequentially dropped
of an opening in the shell that is directly over the interactive
onto each face, edge and corner for a total of 26 drops over
flat-panel control portion of the tablet PC. The stilfeners
made be made of steel or other hard material so that the
plywood from a height of 48 inches. The protective enclosure is visually inspected after each drop and a functional
stilfeners provide additional strength and prevent flexing of
the lid 1304 which enhances the watertightness and the 40 check for leakage is performed after all drops are completed.
Some tablet PCs have a docking connector disposed on
impact/crush resistance.
the underside of the tablet PC so that the tablet PC can
FIG. 14 is an illustration of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
connect to power and signals. For example, emergency
with the lid 1404 detached from the base 1412. To protect
vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, or patrol cars, may
the tablet PC 1402 using the protective enclosure 1400, the
have a docking station installed near the driver’s seat onto
tablet PC 1402 is disposed to fit snugly into the base 1412. 45
which the driver may dock a tablet PC. The embodiment of
The lid is oriented so that hooks 1436, 1438 area aligned
protective enclosure base 1600, as illustrated in FIG. 1, may
with pin 1440 that is connected to a portion of the base 1412
comprise a docking connector charmel 1624 that is recessed
and the lid is closed so that hooks 1436, 1438 are retained
with respect to the upper surface of the base that allows a
by pin 1440. Compound latches 1428, 1430, 1432, 1434 are
docking connector to run from a docking connector that is
then snapped onto the lid so that the lid is compressed tightly 50
disposed in the center underside of the tablet PC to access
against the base providing a watertight seal.
port 1626. Alternatively, a docking pass-through connector
FIG. 15 is a bottom view of the embodiment of FIG. 13.
1620 may be made an integral and watertight part of the
The base 1516 of protective enclosure 1500 includes waterprotective enclosure base 1600 so that the tablet PC docking
tight vents such as watertight vent 1506 for air exchange to
connector attaches to the docking pass-through connector
permit heat and sound dissipation from the enclosed tablet 55
1620 which, in tum, connects to the docking station in
PC while at the same time maintaining watertightness.
substantially the same manner as an unenclosed tablet PC.
Pod release knobs 1512, 1518 are attached to the base
FIG. 17 illustrates another embodiment of protective
enclosure 1700 for a handheld electronic device 1702 that
1516 so that the knobs can be rotated clockwise to securely
wedge against an edge of pod door 1522 to close the pod
has an interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic
door 1522 tightly against a rim around an the pod opening 60 devices that have an interactive flat-panel control benefit
in base 1516 to create a watertight seal. Knobs 1512, 1518
from being enclosed in a rugged protective enclosure that is
can be rotated counter-clockwise to release pod door 1522 to
crush-resistant, watertight and shock-resistant and that
access the interfaces of the tablet PC covered by pod door
simultaneously allows the user to interact with a sensitive
1522.
interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic devices
65
To provide additional protection against mechanical
that have interactive flat-panel control may include music
shock, heavy-duty comer bumpers such as bumper 1504
players, MP3 players, audio player/recorders, and video
may be securely attached to the corners of base 1516.
players. For example, Apple Computer Ipod is a popular
US 7,158,376 B2
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handheld interactive device that plays MP3 or otherwise
from Apple Computer. In some PDAs, such as the Apple
digitally-encoded music/audio. The Apple Ipod has an interIpod, capacitive sensors may be disposed below a front
active flat-panel control in wl1ich a portion of the front panel
panel made from a dielectric such as polycarbonate which
is a flat-panel display and portion of the front panel is an
has a dielectric constant in the range of 2.2—3.8. In the
interactive flat-panel control, called a touch wheel in some
embodiment of FIG. 17, the protective control membrane
versions of the Ipod and click wheel in other versions of the
1708 is made of thin polycarbonate that is slightly flexible
Ipod, that has capacitive touch/proximity sensors. One funcor other engineered thermoplastics that provide the rugged
tion of the interactive flat-panel control, i.e. touch wheel,
watertight protection and at the same time permit the capaciemulates a rotary control knob by sensing circular motion of
10 tive sensors of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
a user’s finger using capacitive sensors. The click wheel has
function correctly. Likewise, a protective control membrane
the same function with the additional feature of sensing
1708 with a dielectric constant that is too high may retain an
proximity of a user’s finger and emulating button presses by
electric charge long enough to reduce the response rate of
a user’s finger at pre-determined areas.
the sensor to motion of a user’s finger from one capacitive
In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the shell lid 1706 and the
15 sensor zone of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
shell base 1704 are made of polycarbonate or other engianother. A protective control membrane 1708 that is conneered thermoplastics that are crush-resistant and impact
ductive or has a dielectric constant that is too low may
resistant. Shell base 1704 has a watertight seal 1718, which
diminish the sensitivity of the capacitive sensor by combinmay be an overmolded gasket, o-ring, liner or other seal that
ing in series the capacitance of the protective membrane and
prevents water from entering the protective enclosure 1700
the dielectric front panel of the PDA which results in a
when the handheld interactive device 1702 is enclosed 20
lowering of the overall capacitance.
inside the protective enclosure 1700. Shell base 1704 and
Total capacitance between an object, such as a finger
shell lid 1706 may include watertight vents, electrical contouching the protective control membrane 1708, and internectors, see-through areas or features as disclosed with
active flat-panel control 1712 is a function of the thickness
respect to FIG. 1.
25 and the dielectric constant of the protective control memIn the embodiment of FIG. 17, shell lid 1706 includes
brane 1708. The capacitance between the object, such as a
apertures over predetermined portions of the handheld interfinger, and the capacitive sensors of the interactive flat-panel
active device 1702, such as the areas directly over the
control 1712 is proportional to the distance between the
display screen 1714 and the interactive flat-panel control
object and the sensors. The sensitivity of the capacitive
1712, or other designated areas as desired. A protective
30 sensors to the object may be diminished or completely
screen membrane 1710 that is at least partially transparent is
eliminated if the protective control membrane 1708 is too
permanently or removably fixed in a watertight marmer to
thick. In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the thickness of the
the underside of shell lid 1706 in the aperture that is over the
protective control membrane is approximately 0.020 inches.
display screen 1714. The protective screen membrane 1710
The protective control membrane 1708 may be any thickis recessed with respect to the upper surface of the shell lid
35 ness in the range of 0.003 inches to 0.020 inches that is
1706 which provides protective elevated rim that protects
adequate to provide a rugged watertight membrane through
the display screen 1714 from breakage. Protective screen
which capacitance can be correctly sensed by the interactive
membrane 1710 may be PVC, silicone or other material that
flat-panel control 1712.
is watertight and rugged. In the case that display screen 1714
The upper surface of the protective control membrane
is a touch screen, the protective screen membrane 1710
40 1708 has a velvet/matte texture with a texture depth of
should be smooth enough and thin enough that stylus strokes
0.0004 to 0.003 inches that reduces the surface area of the
and other inputs are transmitted accurately to the touch
membrane
that is in frictional contact with the user’s finger
screen as disclosed above with respect to FIG. 1, FIG. 12,
and permits a user’s finger to glide rapidly upon the surface
and FIG. 13.
of the membrane without catching or sticking as a result of
In accordance with the embodiment of FIG. 17, a protec45 the reduced friction. The hardness of the polycarbonate
tive control membrane 1708 is permanently or removably
material, or other hard engineered thermoplastic, also
fixed in a watertight manner to the underside of shell lid
reduces the friction.
1706 in an aperture that is over the interactive flat-panel
Headphones or other accessories may be electrically
control 1714 of the handheld device 1702. The protective
connected to handheld device 1702 the through the protecscreen membrane 1710 is recessed with respect to the upper
50 tive enclosure 1700 by disposing the wire of the headphone
surface of the shell lid 1706 which provides protective
or accessory in an insertable gasket 1716 which fits snugly
elevated rim that protects the display screen 1714 from
into one end of the shell base 1704.
breakage and provides tactile feedback that guides a user’s
finger to the desired area even in slippery conditions.
FIG. 18 illustrates another embodiment of protective
Interactive flat-panel control 1712 has capacitive sensors
enclosure 1800 which is substantially the same as protective
55
which are part of a proximity/touch detector circuit. When a
enclosure 1700 of FIG. 17. However, protective enclosure
grounded object, such as a person’s finger, which has free air
1800 has an alternative electrical pass-through for accessories. In the embodiment of FIG. 18, shell base 1804 includes
capacitance of several hundred picofarads, is brought close
to the capacitive sensors, the total capacitance measured by
an adapter cable 1816 that has an adapter plug 1812 at one
the detector circuit increases because the capacitance of the
end which plugs into a jack of handheld device 1802. At the
60
object with free air capacitance adds to the capacitance of
other end of the adapter cable 1816 is an adapter jack 1814
the sensors since the total capacitance of two capacitors in
that is molded into, or otherwise integrally made part of,
parallel is additive. Multiple sensors may also be arranged so
shell base 1804. An external accessory, such as a pair of
that movement of an object with free air capacitance can be
headphones, may then be plugged into the adapter jack 1814
detected, for example, movement of a person’s finger in a
while the handheld device 1802 in enclosed in protective
65
circular motion analogous to turning a mechanical control
enclosure 1800. Altematively, a one-piece adapter that
knob. Some examples of interactive flat-panel controlled
includes both a jack 1814 and a plug 1812 without a cable
PDA’s include Ipod and Ipod Mini music and audio players
1816 may be integrally disposed into shell base 1804.
US 7,158,376 B2
19
20
Shell lid 1806 is adapted to retain an O-ring 1808 that
seals the protective enclosure 1800 when shell lid 1806 is
latched tightly onto shell base 1804 so that water cannot
enter protective enclosure 1800.
The foregoing description of the invention has been
presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is
not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the
generated by said tablet PC from the interior of said protective enclosure to the exterior of said protective enclosure
so that said tablet PC operates with sufficient cooling.
4. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said shell
of said protective enclosure further comprises grip-enhancing structures that enable said protective enclosure to be
securely held by hand in slippery conditions.
precise form disclosed, and other modifications and varia5. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said
tions may be possible in light of the above teachings. The
protective enclosure uses at least one latch to securely close
embodiment was chosen and described in order to best 10 said enclosure around said tablet PC.
explain the principles of the invention and its practical
application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best
utilize the invention in various embodiments and various
6. The protective enclosure of claim 1 further comprising
glare-reducing coating on a front side of said protective
membrane.
modifications as are suited to the particular use contem7. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said shell
15
plated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed
is made of at least one engineered thermoplastic selected
to include other altemative embodiments of the invention
from the group consisting of thermoplastic polycarbonate,
except insofar as limited by the prior art.
thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrylonitrileWhat is claimed is:
butadiene-styrene and thermoplastic compositions contain1. A protective enclosure for a tablet PC having an
ing one or more thereof.
20
interactive flat-panel control comprising:
8. The protective enclosure of claim 7 wherein said shell
is reinforced with at least one fiber material selected from
a shell that is capable of enclosing said tablet PC, said
tablet PC being a separate unit from said protective
the group consisting of glass fibers, carbon fibers, metal
enclosure, said tablet PC being insertable in and removfibers, polyamide fibers and mixtures thereof.
able from said enclosure by hand, said shell being
9. The protective enclosure of claim 8 wherein said shell
25
substantially crush-resistant and having an elevated
further comprises stilfeners that are embedded in a perimeter
protective rim around a perimeter portion of said interthat surrounds said protective membrane of said shell so that
active flat-panel control of said tablet PC so that when
said stilfeners strengthen said shell and prevent said shell
said tablet PC is disposed in said enclosure, said
from warping.
interactive flat-panel control of said tablet PC is
10. The protective enclosure of claim 9 wherein said
30
recessed with respect to said protective rim of said shell
protective membrane is fabricated from a member of the
so that said elevated protective rim protects said intergroup consisting of polyvinylchloride, thermoplastic polyactive flat-panel control from breakage; and
carbonate, thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrya protective membrane that is integrally fixed to a shocklonitrile-butadiene-styrene, thermoplastic polyurethane, and
absorbing cushion, said shock-absorbing cushion being
thermoplastic compositions containing one or more thereof.
35
fixed to said shell, said shock-absorbing cushion form11. A protective enclosure for a handheld device having a
ing a seal between said shell and said protective memcapacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel control comprisbrane so that said protective enclosure is substantially
ing:
watertight, said protective membrane is disposed over
a shell that is capable of enclosing said handheld device,
said interactive flat-panel control of said tablet PC
said handheld device being a separate unit from said
40
when said tablet PC is disposed in said enclosure, said
protective enclosure, said handheld device being insertprotective membrane having a back side that has a
able in and removable from said enclosure by hand,
substantially planar smooth surface that is adjacent to
said shell being substantially crush-resistant and having
said interactive flat-panel control of said tablet when
an elevated protective rim around a perimeter portion
said tablet PC is disposed in said enclosure so that
of said capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel con45
trol of said handheld device so that when said handheld
inputs on a front side of said protective membrane are
communicated to said interactive flat-panel control
device is disposed in said enclosure, said capacitancethrough said protective membrane, said protective
sensing interactive flat-panel control of said handheld
membrane being at least partially transparent such that
device is recessed with respect to said protective rim of
said interactive flat-panel control is visible through said
said shell so that said elevated protective rim protects
50
protective membrane, said shock-absorbing cushion
said interactive flat-panel control from breakage; and
pressing said protective membrane flatly against said
a protective membrane that is integrally fixed to said shell,
interactive flat-panel control of said tablet PC so that
said protective membrane disposed over said capacismooth stylus strokes and inputs may be transmitted
tance-sensing interactive flat-panel control of said
accurately to said interactive flat-panel control.
handheld device when said handheld device is disposed
55
2. The protective enclosure of claim 1 further comprising
in said enclosure, said protective membrane having a
a plurality of shock-absorbing bumpers that are attached to
back side that has a substantially planar smooth surface
said shell of said protective enclosure, said bumpers being
that is adjacent to said capacitance-sensing interactive
adapted to hold said tablet PC snugly, said bumpers being
flat-panel control of said handheld device when said
compressible so that when said tablet PC is disposed in said
handheld device is disposed in said enclosure, said
60
protective enclosure said tablet PC is substantially protected
protective membrane being sufiiciently thin that
from mechanical shock to said protective enclosure, said
capacitive inputs on a front side of said protective
bumpers sized and disposed within said protective enclosure
membrane are transmitted to said capacitive-sensing
so that air may flow around said tablet PC within said
interactive flat-panel control through said protective
protective enclosure.
membrane, said protective membrane being at least
65
3. The protective enclosure of claim 1 further comprising
partially transparent such that said interactive flat-panel
at least one air-permeable watertight vent in said protective
control is visible through said protective membrane,
enclosure that permits heat transfer by convection of heat
said protective membrane having a dielectric constant
US 7,158,376 B2
21
such that capacitive inputs on a front side of said
protective membrane are transmitted to said capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel control.
12. The protective enclosure of claim 11 wherein said
protective membrane has a dielectric constant in the range of 5
2.2 to 3.8.
22
cated to said interactive flat-panel control through said
protective membrane, said protective membrane being
at least partially transparent such that said interactive
flat-panel control is visible through said protective
membrane; and
fixing said protective membrane onto said protective shell
so that said protective membrane and said protective
shell form a protective enclosure for said touch screen
device.
13. The protective enclosure of claim 12 wherein said
protective membrane is made of engineered thermoplastic
selected from the group consisting of thermoplastic poly10
carbonate, thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acry17. A method of manufacturing a protective enclosure for
lonitrile-butadiene-styrene and thermoplastic compositions
a device having a capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel
containing one or more thereof.
control comprising:
14. The protective enclosure of claim 13 wherein said
providing a protective shell that is crush-resistant and
protective membrane has a thickness in the range of 0.003
impact-resistant, said protective shell that is adapted to
15
inches to 0.020 inches.
enclose a device having a capacitance-sensing interac15. The protective enclosure of claim 14 wherein said
tive flat-panel control, said device being a separate unit
protective membrane has matte texture, said texture having
from said protective enclosure, said device being
a texture depth of 0.0004 to 0.003 inches that reduces the
insertable in and removable from said shell by hand,
surface area of said protective membrane that is in frictional
said shell being substantially crush-resistant and pro20
contact with a user’s finger and permits said user’s finger to
viding an elevated protective rim around a perimeter
glide smoothly upon the surface of the membrane without
portion of said capacitance-sensing interactive flatsticking.
panel control of said device so that when said device is
16. A method of manufacturing a protective enclosure for
disposed in said enclosure, said capacitance-sensing
a device having an interactive flat-panel control comprising:
interactive flat-panel control is recessed with respect to
25
providing a protective shell that is crush resistant and
said protective rim of said shell so that said elevated
impact resistant, said protective shell having embedded
protective rim protects said capacitance-sensing interstilfeners that prevent said protective shell from warpactive flat-panel control of said device from breakage;
ing, said protective shell that is adapted to enclose a
providing a protective membrane that is capable of being
device having an interactive flat-panel control, said
integrally fixed on said shell so that said protective
30
device being a separate unit from said protective enclomembrane is disposed over said capacitance-sensing
sure, said device being insertable in and removable
interactive flat-panel control of said device when said
from said shell by hand, said shell being substantially
device is disposed in said enclosure, said protective
crush-resistant and providing an elevated protective
membrane having a back side that has a substantially
rim around a perimeter portion of said interactive
planar smooth surface adjacent said interactive flat35
flat-panel control of said device so that when said
panel control when said device is disposed in said
device is disposed in said enclosure, said interactive
enclosure, said protective membrane being sufficiently
flat-panel control is recessed with respect to said prothin and having dielectric constant so that capacitive
tective rim of said shell so that said elevated protective
inputs on a front side of said protective membrane are
rim protects said interactive flat-panel control of said
communicated to said capacitance-sensing interactive
40
device from breakage;
flat-panel control through said protective membrane,
providing a protective membrane that is capable of being
said protective membrane being at least partially transintegrally fixed on said shell so that said protective
parent such that said capacitance-sensing interactive
membrane is disposed over said interactive flat-panel
flat-panel control is visible through said protective
membrane; and
control of said device when said device is disposed in
45
said enclosure, said protective membrane having a back
fixing said protective membrane onto said protective shell
side that has a substantially planar smooth surface
so that said protective membrane and said protective
adjacent said interactive flat-panel control when said
shell form a protective enclosure for said device.
device is disposed in said enclosure so that inputs on a
* * * * *
front side of said protective membrane are communi-
US007180735B2
(12) United States Patent
(10) Patent No.:
Thomas et al.
(54)
(45) Date of Patent:
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE AND
WATERTIGHT ADAPTER FOR AN
(56)
US’ PATENT DOCUMENTS
DEVICE
2,392,787 A
(75) Inventors: Brian P. Thomas, Fort Collins, CO
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
_
U.S. Appl. No. 10/937,048, Richardson et al.
Morine, Fort Collins, CO (US)
*
(Continued)
Assignee: Otter Products, LLC, Fort Collins, CO
(US)
Notice:
'
1/1946 Vermot
(commued)
(US); Curtis R. Richardson, Fort
Collins, CO (US); Douglas A. Kempel,
Fort Collins, CO (US); Alan V_
Feb. 20, 2007
References Cited
INTERACTIVE FLAT-PANEL CONTROLLED
(73)
US 7,180,735 B2
S u bj ect to anyd'1SC 1 aimer,t
'
h e term o f thi s
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 161 days.
Primary Examiner—Anth0ny Q. Edwards
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—William W. Cochran;
Cochran Freund & Young LLC
(57)
ABSTRACT
A protective enclosure is disclosed for an interactive flat(21)
App], No; 11/077,963
panel control device..The protective enclosure is watertight,
crush-resistant, and impact-resistant. An electrical adapter
(22)
Filed;
may disposed within the ‘protective enclosure and covered
with an elastomeric covering that permits a connector of the
Man 10, 2005
(65)
Prior Publication Data
adapter to flex with respect to the lower shell of ‘the
Related US. Application Data
enclosure so that the connector may easily be inserted into
an interface jack of the electronic device. The elastomeric
covering also provides a watertight seal that enables the
protective enclosure to be submersibly watertight. While
<63) Continuation-in-Pan of application N°~ 1°/931048:
323113;“?11§£3§e§IL%‘31h‘12idP23E‘§§§?§ 1523111153 §§§f1“1&i‘é
filed on Sep' 8’ 2004’ which is a C0minuati0n'in'part
interactive flat-panel controlled device. The protective
0faPP1iCa1i0nN0- 10/6455139: fi1ed0nAug- 20> 2003:
now P31 N0- 6995976: which 15 3 Continuation of
aPP11Ca11011 N0~ 10/300300: fi1ed 011 N0V~ 19: 2002,
HOW Pat. N0. 6,646,864.
enclosure has a protective membrane that permits RF and
touch screen stylus inputs, as well as capacitance, such as
from a finger, to be transmitted accurately to the flat-panel
control. The hardness and texture of the protective mem-
(60) Provisional application No. 60/335,865, filed on Nov.
Elrlialaecglfivrlieanitg/IE11i)::I:efiVI;‘;iEffO§1: §:lit(:ii:1I;1O0Ort1S13]C1:li1IO1;1fg1E11::
US 2005/0174727 A1
Aug. 11, 2005
19’ 2001'
protective enclosure is further adapted to allow infrared and
other communication signals while the device is secured
(51)
Int‘ Cl‘
G06F 1/16
(200601)
(52)
U.S. Cl. .................... ..
361/686; 361/683; 206/701;
367/131
(58)
Field of Classification Search ................... .. None
See application file for complete search history.
inside the case. Further, electrical connections can be made
through the case without affecting the protection afforded
the electronic device inside. The protective enclosure may
have a removable cable management belt clip that has a
flange that retains and prevents entangling of an accessory
cable for the interactive flat-panel control device.
6 Claims, 28 Drawing Sheets
PROTECTIVE
ENCLOSURE
TEx'¥‘u‘§§3i"m
1913
W
1915
UPPER SHELL
1905
Hm;
PIVOT STOP
LOWER SHELL
1914
EXTERNAL
1902
INTERNAL
‘92° JACK
PLUG PIVOT
HINGE
STOP
ELASTOMERIC
COVERING
2300
LOWER SHELL
2392
EXTERNAL
JACK
US 7,180,735 B2
Page 2
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
D216,853
D220,233
3,590,988
132751822
4,683,587
4,703,161
4,762,227
5,092,459
D327,646
D329,747
D330,329
5,175,873
D335,220
D342,609
D347,324
133471732
D353,048
133811512
D386,611
D402,105
134091374
D412r062
S
3/1970 Sehnrrnan
S
3/1971 Sehnrrnan
A
7/1971 Holler
S
10/1984 Garland er 81.
A * 7/1987 Silverman ................. .. 381/311
A
10/1987 McLean
A
8/1988 Patterson
A * 3/1992 Uljanic et al. ............ .. 206/320
S
7/ 1992 Hardigg et a1.
S
9/1992 Enrbree
S
10/1992 Brightbill
A
12/1992 Goldenberg et al.
S
5/1993 Ward et 31.
S
12/1993 Brightbill
S
5/1994 Dickenson
S
6/ 1994 Wentz
S
12/ 1994 VanS1<iVer et 31.
S
7/1997 Green
S
11/1997 Shen
S
12/1998 Erickson
S
5/1999 Lnbn er 31.
S
7/1999 Potter et 81.
134131202
D413,203
D419,297
D419,767
S
S
s
S
8/ 1999
8/1999
1/2000
2/2000
Sehnnn etn1~
Zurwelle et al.
Richardson et al.
Richardson et al.
6,239,968
D443,133
6,273,252
6,301,100
6,313,892
6,317,313
6,388,377
6,396,769
6,415,138
6,445,577
6,456,487
D464,196
6,471,056
D465330
D470,659
6,519,141
6,536,539
D472,384
6,614,722
6,617,973
6,646,864
6,665,174
2002/0064981
2002/0101707
B1
S
B1
B1
B2
B1
B1
B1
B2
B1
B1
s
B1
S
s
B2
B2
s
132*
131*
B2
B1
A1*
A1
2004/0120219 A1
5/2001
6/2001
8/2001
10/2001
11/2001
11/2001
5/2002
5/2002
7/2002
9/2002
9/2002
10/2002
10/2002
11/2002
2/2003
2/2003
3/2003
4/2003
9/2003
9/2003
11/2003
12/2003
5/2002
8/2002
Kim et al.
Richardson et a1.
Mitchell
Iwata
Gleckman
Mosgrove etal.
Goldenburg et 31.
polany
siro1a et a1.
Madsen et 31.
Hetterick
Parker
Tzeng
Parker
Story etal.
Tseng etal.
Chang
Richardson
Polany et al. ............. .. 367/131
Osterman .............. .. 340/636.1
Richardson
Derretal.
Yu etal. ................... .. 439/135
Canova et a1.
6/2004 Polany et al.
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
-
94195768 S
232113;:
1
’
’
2/2000 ncnrdsonerarr
$333 8■
.
3312551: E2: 13/332232: Eifiifiififla al.
U.S.App1.
U.S. Appl. No.
No. 29/205,708,
29/205,723, Richardson
Richardson et
et al.
al.
670491813 A
134235772 S
4/2000 D*““‘°'1S°“ 6‘ 31'
5/2000 C°°P‘°*r 6‘ 31‘
U.S.App1. No. 29/205 722 Richardson et al.
U.S.App1. No. 29/205:848: Morine et al.
$233152; :3
$333 gjiivzhglét al
U.S.App1. No. 29/209,918, Richardson et al.
6 094’785 A
a
’
D433,798 S
D439,407 s
8/2000 M
U.S.App1. No. 29/211,554, Richardson et
U.S.App1. No. 29/217,612, Richardson et
Us A 1 N 29/217613 R1. h d
t
' ' pp‘ °'
’
’ .° at 5°“
6,215,474 B1
4/2001 Shah
U.S.App1. No. 29/225,168, Richardson et al.
D441,954 S
5/2001 Parker
* cited by examiner
‘t 1
°.“‘g°m‘°'ry 6' 3'
11/2000 We1nstock
3/2001 Parker
a1.
al.
1
3‘
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20 2007
Sheet 1 of 28
F1IGURE
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20 2007
Sheet 2 of 28
F2IGURE
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 3 of 28
FIGURE 3
US 7,180,735 B2
US 7,180,735 B2
FIGURE 4
FIGURE 5
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 6 of 28
{
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U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 8 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
wm_:w_.
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 9 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
912
FIGURE 9
HGURE1O
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 11 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
1FIGURE
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 12 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
FOLDING
RKND
COVER
STYLUS
HOLDER
1220
PROTECTIVE
MEMBRANE
1214
1206
LATCH
1200 —//7'
PROTECHVE
COVER
FIGURE 12
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 13 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
mD:_>. m
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U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 14 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
SHELUD
STIFENR
STIFENR
1336
STFENR
1FIG3UBRE
1338
1340
STFENR
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 15 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
.9V_m=.:
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mEazm E:w_".
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 17 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECTIVE
ENCLOSURE BASE
1600
|NTERNA|_
FLEXIBLE
BUMPER
DOCKING
INTERNAL
CONNECTER
CHANNEL
BUMPER
1504
1502
ACCE55
PORT
DOCKING
CONNECTOR
INTERNAL
BUMPER
INTERNAL
1622
BUMPER
POD DOOR
FIGURE 16
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 18 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECHVE
ENCLOSURE
1 700
PROTECTIVE
E5)
SCREEN
5HE|_|_ up
MEMBRANE
1706
1710
LATCH
1718
PROTECHVE
TOUCFLCONTROL
MEMBRANE
PLUG
[NSPLAY
SCREEN
1714
INTERACWVE
FLAJ1HANEL
CONTROL
1712
17o2’*L/,
1716
HANDHELD
.
GASKET
DEVICE I
HELL BASE
FIGURE 17
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 19 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECTIVE
ENCLOSURE
1800 E
SHELL LID
E ADAPTER 0!ê■
'
PLUG
‘
1312
5 ADAPTER
CABLE
1816
HANDHELD
DEVICE
JACK
SHELL BASE
FIGURE 18
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 20 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECTIVE
RECESSED
ENC1I'9O(:)URE
TEXTURED AREA
1918
PROTECTIVE
LATCH
MEMBRANE
1916
UPPER SHELL
1906
X
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
1914
1908
LOWER SHELL
EXTERNAL
1902
INTERNAL
PLUG
1920
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
FIGURE 19A
JACK
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 21 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECIV ENCLOSURE 31900
SUHPELR
1906
PLUG
1903
ELASTOMERIC COVERING
SLOHWELR
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U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 22 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
HINGE
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SUB-STRUCTURE
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FIGURE 20
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 23 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
ELASTOMERIC
COVERING
LOWER SHELL
FIGURE 21
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 24 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE
/ 2200
UPPER SHELL
2206
2222
HINGE PIVOT
STOP
2220
HINGE PIVOT
STOP
FIGURE 22
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 25 of 28
FIGURE 23
US 7,180,735 B2
U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 26 of 28
US 7,180,735 B2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE
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EXTERNAL
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U.S. Patent
Feb. 20, 2007
Sheet 27 of 28
RELEASE CLIP
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FIGURE 25
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US 7,180,735 B2
1
2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE AND
The invention may therefore comprise a protective encloWATERTIGHT ADAPTER FOR AN
sure for a handheld device having an interactive flat-panel
INTERACTIVE FLAT-PANEL CONTROLLED
control comprising: an upper shell and a lower shell that are
DEVICE
hingedly connected, said upper shell and said lower shell
enclosing said handheld electronic device, said handheld
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
electronic device being a separate unit from said protective
APPLICATIONS
enclosure, said handheld electronic device being insertable
in and removable from said enclosure by hand, said shell
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent 10 being substantially submersibly watertight when closed, said
enclosure having at least one hinge pivot stop that constrains
application Ser. No. 10/937,048 entitled “Protective Encloopening of said upper shell to a maximum predetermined
sure for an Interactive Flat Panel Controlled Device” by
angle; a protective membrane disposed within said upper
Curtis R. Richardson and Douglas A. Kempel, filed Sep. 8,
2004.
shell, said protective membrane being at least partially
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/937,048 is a continu- 15 transparent so that said interactive flat-panel control is
visible through said protective membrane, said membrane
ation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/645,439
entitled “Protective Membrane for a Touch Screen Device”
being sufficiently thin and textured to permit significantly
smooth interactive tactile control of said flat-panel control of
by Curtis R. Richardson, filed Aug. 20, 2003 now U.S. Pat.
said handheld electronic device; an adapter disposed within
No. 6,995,976.
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/645,439 is a continu- 20 said protective enclosure, said adapter having an intemal
connector that is capable of electrically connecting to said
ation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/300,200 entitled
handheld electronic device, said adapter having an extemal
“Protective Case for Touch Screen Device” by Curtis R.
connector that is capable of being electrically connected to
Richardson, filed Nov. 19, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,646,
an accessory for said handheld electronic device, said inter864 which claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/335,865 filed Nov. 19, 25 nal connector being electrically connected to said extemal
connector so that when said accessory is electrically con2001 by Curtis R. Richardson entitled “Protective Case for
Touch Screen Device.” The entire contents of the above
nected to said external connector said accessory is also
electrically connected to said internal connector and to said
mentioned applications are hereby specifically incorporated
handheld electronic device; and an elastomeric covering that
herein by reference for all they disclose and teach.
covers and substantially surrounds said intemal connector
30
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
and said extemal connector of said adapter, said elastomeric
covering holding said intemal connector and said extemal
connector in place within enclosure, said elastomeric cova. Field of the Invention
ering permitting said internal connector to tilt within a
The present invention pertains generally to protective
predetermined range of angles so that said intemal connector
cases and specifically to protective cases for electronic 35
easily connects to said handheld electronic device when said
devices that have an interactive flat-panel control.
handheld electronic device is inserted into said protective
b. Description of the Background
enclosure within a range of predetermined angles, said
Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs as well as other
elastomeric covering maintaining said protective enclosure
portable electronic devices such as Apple iPods, and other
substantially submersibly watertight when said handheld
similar devices, that store and play MP3 data, are being very 40 electronic device is enclosed within said protective enclosure.
widely used, and are being deployed in industrial as well as
office environments.
The invention may further comprise an electrical adapter
The industrial environments, as well as normal use, can
for a submersibly watertight protective enclosure for a
impose harsh conditions that typical handheld electronic
handheld electronic device comprising: at least one intemal
devices are not designed to accommodate. For example, 45 connector that is adapted to connect to an interface of the
damage can be done to such devices through rough handling
handheld electronic device, the internal connector adapted to
and dropping. Further, liquids, chemicals, grease, water, dirt,
be at least partially disposed within the enclosure and to
connect to the interface within the enclosure when the
and grime may damage or destroy a functioning handheld
electronic device or otherwise inhibit the use of the device.
enclosure is closed in a submersibly watertight marmer; at
50
Handheld electronic devices may be connected to earleast one extemal connector that is adapted to connect to an
phones or to other accessories. The handheld electronic
accessory for the handheld electronic device, the extemal
device may be directly connected using a wire connection,
connector adapted to be at least partially disposed within the
wherein a cable with a connector physically connects to the
enclosure and to connect to the accessory that is outside of
device. Cables or connectors that permit liquid to pass from
the enclosure when the enclosure is closed in a submersibly
55
the outside of the protective enclosure to the inside of the
watertight manner; cabling that is disposed within the encloprotective enclosure may make the enclosure unsuitable for
sure that electrically connects the internal connector to the
applications where a watertight connection is required or
external connector; and an elastomeric covering that at least
desired.
partially surrounds and provides a watertight seal around a
portion of the internal connector and the external connector
60
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
and the enclosure so that the enclosure is submersibly
watertight when the enclosure is closed, the elastomeric
The present invention overcomes the disadvantages and
covering being flexible so that the intemal connector may be
limitations of the prior art by providing a protective enclodeflected at an angle that facilitates connection of the
connector to the interface of the electronic device.
sure that protects a handheld electronic device and permits
65
accessories to be electrically connected to the handheld
The invention may further comprise a method of manudevice when the handheld device is enclosed within the
facturing a submersibly watertight enclosure with an accesprotective enclosure.
sory adapter for a handheld electronic device comprising:
US 7,180,735 B2
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4
providing a upper shell and a lower shell that form a
protective enclosure, the upper shell and the lower shell
being hingedly connected, the upper shell and the lower
shell being capable of enclosing the handheld electronic
device, the handheld electronic device being a separate unit
from the upper shell and the lower shell, the handheld
electronic device being insertable in and removable from the
upper shell and the lower shell by hand, the shell being
substantially submersibly watertight when closed, the enclosure having at least one hinge pivot stop that constrains
opening of the upper shell to a maximum predetermined
angle; disposing an adapter at least partially within the
protective enclosure, the adapter having an intemal connector that is capable of electrically connecting to an interface
of a handheld electronic device, the adapter having an
external connector that is capable of being electrically
connected to an accessory for the handheld electronic
device, the internal connector being electrically connected to
the external connector so that when the accessory is electrically connected to the extemal connector the accessory is
also electrically connected to the intemal connector and to
the interface of the handheld electronic device; at least
partially covering the adapter with an elastomeric covering
that forms a submersibly watertight seal around the adapter
so that the enclosure is submersibly watertight when the
enclosure is close, the elastomeric covering being flexible to
that the internal connector may deflected at an angle to
facilitate connection of the intemal connector to the interface of the handheld electronic device.
FIG. 17 is an exploded view of an embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In the drawings,
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment
invention shown in the closed position.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment
invention shown in the open position.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an embodiment
invention shown in an exploded state.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment
invention shown from the rear.
of the
of the
of the
FIG. 18 is an exploded view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device.
FIG. 19A is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device with the protective enclosure having an integrated
10
watertight electrical adapter.
FIG. 19B is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device with the protective enclosure having an integrated
watertight electrical adapter.
15
FIG. 20 illustrates an electrical adapter with intemal plug
and an extemal jack disposed within the protective enclosure
of the embodiment of FIG. 19A.
FIG. 21 illustrates an elastomeric covering for the electrical adapter of the embodiment of FIG. 20.
20
FIG. 22 illustrates hinge pivot stops of the protective
enclosure of FIG. 19A in the open position at a maximum
angle.
FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure of the
embodiment of FIG. 19A having a single extemal jack.
25
FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure
having two external jacks.
FIG. 25 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip for the protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG.
19A with the belt clip attached to the protective enclosure.
30
FIG. 26 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip for the protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG.
19A
sure. with the belt clip removed from the protective enclo35
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
invention. Embodiment 100 comprises a rigidly molded
40
of the
front case 102 and rear case 104. An overrnolded grommet
106 forms a receptacle for stylus 108 and also aids in sealing
FIG. 5 is a front view of a11 embodiment of the invention,
membrane 110. A flexible hand strap 112 attaches to the rear
showing a section line.
case 104. Ahinge 114joins front case 102 and rear case 104.
FIG. 6 is a section view of an embodiment of the
A ring 124 for a lanyard is shown as an integral feature of
45 rear case 104.
invention.
FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a section shown in FIG. 6.
Embodiment 100 is designed to hold a conventional
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment
personal digital assistant (PDA) in a protective case. A PDA,
comprising a single piece encapsulating cover.
such as a Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, Compaq Ipaq,
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a third embodiment
Hewlett Packard Jornada, or similar products use a touch
50
comprising a non-encapsulating snap over cover.
screen for display and data entry. The touch screen display
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an embodiment that
comprises either a color or black and white liquid crystal
comprises a belt clip.
display with a touch sensitive device mounted on top of the
FIG. 11 is a second perspective view of an embodiment
display. The display is used for displaying graphics, text, and
other elements to the user. The touch screen is used with a
that comprises a belt clip.
55
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of
stylus 108 to select elements from the screen, to draw
the present invention of a protective cover for a PDA or
figures, and to enter text with a character recognition proother device.
gram in the PDA. The stylus 108 generally resembles a
FIG. 13A is a perspective top view of another embodiconventional writing implement. However, the tip of the
ment of a protective enclosure for a tablet PC.
writing implement is a rounded plastic tip. In place of a
60
FIG. 13B is a view of the protective enclosure lid of FIG.
stylus 108, the user may use the tip of a finger or fingernail,
13A.
or a conventional pen or pencil. When a conventional
FIG. 14 is a perspective top view of the embodiment of
writing implement is used, damage to the touch screen
FIG. 13A with an open lid.
element may occur, such as scratches.
FIG. 15 is a perspective bottom view of the embodiment
For the purposes of this specification, the term PDA shall
65
of FIG. 13A.
include any electronic device that has a touch screen interFIG. 16 is a perspective view of the base of the embodiface. This may include instruments such as voltmeters,
ment of FIG. 13A.
oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and any other handheld,
US 7,180,735 B2
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6
bench top, or rack mounted instrument that has a touch
screen interface. Handheld devices, such as cell phones,
satellite phones, telemetric devices, and other handheld
devices are also to be classified as PDAs for the purposes of
this specification. The term PDA shall also include any
computer terminal display that has a touch screen interface.
These may comprise kiosks, outdoor terminal interfaces,
industrial computer interfaces, commercial computer interfaces and other computer displays. Additionally, the term
PDA may comprise barcode scanners, handheld GPS receivers, and other handheld electronic devices. The foregoing
description of the term PDA has been presented for purposes
of illustration and description. It is not intended to be
exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms
disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be
possible in light of the teachings of this specification.
In addition, the PDAs typically have a handful of additional buttons as part of the user interface. These buttons are
generally on the front of the device, near the touch screen
element. The additional buttons may be used as shortcut
buttons to instantly call up a certain program on the PDA,
may comprise a method of scrolling, may be used to select
items from a list, or may have any function that the designer
of the PDA software may assign to the button or set of
buttons. The button size, layout, and function may vary for
each manufacturer and model of PDA.
which the PDA slides, or the protective cover may not
completely enclose the PDA and only cover the face where
the user interface exists, leaving one or more sides of the
PDA exposed. Those skilled in the art may use other designs
of protective covers without deviating from the scope and
intent of the present invention.
The protective cover may be constructed of rigid plastic,
metal, flexible rubber, or any other type of material that
could be adapted to afford the protection of the PDA desired
for the application. For example, a metal cover may be used
in an application where an elegant style is necessary but
watertightness is not. A flexible rubber cover may be
selected for an application in a wet environment. A rigid
plastic cover may be selected for an application where
dropping the PDA is a concem. Those skilled in the art may
use other types of materials and constructions without
deviating from the spirit of the present invention.
The PDA may be mounted in the protective cover using
many different mounting techniques. For example, the PDA
may be mounted using open or closed cell foam inserts in the
protective cover. In another embodiment, the PDA may be
mounted by attaching the PDA to the cover with a fastener.
In another embodiment, the PDA may be mounted by
snapping into the protective waterproof cover. In another
embodiment, the PDA may be held in place by resting in
molded features of two halves of a protective case that
clamps onto the PDA. Those skilled in the art may use other
types of locating and holding mechanisms without deviating
from the spirit of the present invention.
The overmolded grommet 106 of the present embodiment
is constructed by injection molding a thermoplastic polymerized rubber (TPR) over the front case 102. The grommet
106 has molded features 116 and 118 adapted to retain the
stylus 108. Features 116 and 118 capture the stylus 108
during transportation, but allow the user to remove the stylus
108 to operate the PDA. In other embodiments of the present
invention, the stylus 108 may be constrained to the PDA
with a tether or lanyard, or the constraining features may be
incorporated into other components that make up the protective cover. Further, the stylus 108 may not be present in
the embodiment, rather, the PDA be adapted to be used with
the user’s fingemail or with another implement similar to the
stylus 108.
The membrane 110 of the present embodiment is constructed by thermoforrning a sheet of thin plastic. The plastic
is selected to be thin enough that the deformation of a stylus
conducts the touch to the touch screen, but thick enough to
have enough rigidity that the stylus does not catch and rip
the membrane. Additionally, the membrane 110 should have
enough thickness to endure scratches and other wear and
tear without breaking and sacrificing the protective function.
Polyvinylchloride material at 0.010 in to 0.015 in thickness
gives acceptable results. Altematively, membrane 110 may
be constructed by injection molding or other methods.
Alternative materials may be used by those skilled in the art
to achieve the same results while maintaining within the
spirit and intent of the present invention.
The membrane 110 in the present embodiment may be
translucent or at least partially transparent, so that the
images displayed on the PDA may be visible through the
membrane 110. The membrane 110 may be tinted or colorized in some applications. For example, a protective cover
designed as a decorative cover may incorporate a colorized
membrane 110. Further, the membrane may be selectively
colorized and the opaqueness may vary. For example, the
protective membrane may be printed or painted in the areas
not used for the touch screen. A printing process may
5
10
15
20
25
Further, PDAs typically have at least one method of
connecting to another computer. This may be through a
direct electrical connection, such as through a wire cable or
30
fiber optic, or through another medium such as infrared
communication or through a radio communication.
Additionally, the PDAs typically have an electrical
source. The electrical source may be a rechargeable or
non-rechargeable battery or solar cells. The electrical source
35
may be a remote source of electricity that is transmitted to
the PDA through a wire cable or through other methods of
electrical transmission.
Further, PDAs may have indicator lights, such as status
lights for power, communication, battery status, or other
functions. The lights may be located on any of the sides of
the PDA and may be viewable on one or more sides.
Front case 102 and rear case 104 form a protective cover
for the PDA. The protective cover may be designed for
rugged industrial use, recreational use, commercial use, or
many other uses. An industrial use may require the protective cover to be watertight, chemically resistant, protect the
unit when dropped, and be crush proof. A typical application
may be for fire fighters to use a PDA for a display of maps
for directions to an emergency scene or for a building plan
at the scene of a fire. Another example may be a maintenance
mechanic in a chemical plant using a PDA to record maintenance records in the plant that processes. A recreational
use may require the cover to be watertight, afford some
protection against dropping and being crushed, float in
water, and be dust resistant. A recreational use may be to
take the PDA during kayaking, diving, or other water sport
activity. Further, the case may be used when the PDA is
taken camping, hiking, or other outdoor activity. A commercial use may additionally require the protective cover to be
elegant, but may also require the cover to be replaceable so
that scratches and other signs of wear and tear can be easily
and cheaply replaced.
The protective cover for the PDA may take on many
embodiments. The embodiment 100 comprises a front case
102 and rear case 104 that are joined by a hinge 114 and a
clasp mechanism that is on the side of the cases opposite the
hinge 114. Other embodiments may have a small door into
40
45
50
55
60
65
US 7,180,735 B2
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8
incorporate a logo, graphics, or labeling for individual
buttons for the PDA. The printing process may further
incorporate features, such as text or graphics, that are used
by the software on the PDA for a purpose such as simplifying data input or for designating an area on the touch
screen for a specific function, such as a help function. The
printing or painting processes used on the membrane 110
may be purely decorative and may be for aesthetic purposes
only. The printing process may also comprise logos or
graphics for the brand identity of the PDA cover. Other
processes, such as colorizing the raw material for the membrane 110 or adding other components to the raw material,
such as metal flakes or other additives, may be used to
change the optical features of the membrane 110.
The optical performance of the membrane 110 may be
changed or enhanced by changing the texture of the area of
the touch screen. For example, the membrane may be frosted
on the outside to hide scratches or may be imprinted with a
lens or other features that change the optical characteristics
of the membrane 110. The membrane 110 may have optical
features that are used in conjunction with the software of the
PDA. For example, all or a portion of the membrane may
comprise a lens that magnifies an image to a user. When the
user touches the image on the membrane 110 and the touch
is transferred to the touch screen, the software in the PDA
may have to compensate for the positional differences
between the image and actual area that was touched by the
user. In another example, if a specific portion of the membrane 110 had a specific optical characteristic, the software
of the PDA may be constructed to display a specific graphic
for the area for an intended effect.
using the PDA. The hand strap 112 may be constructed of a
flexible material, such as rubber or cloth webbing, and may
have an adjustment, such as a buckle, hook and loop
fastener, or other method of adjustment. In other embodiments, a hand strap may be a rigid plastic handle, a folding
handle, or any other method of assisting the user in holding
the embodiment. Further, the embodiment may be adapted to
be fix-mounted to another object, like a piece of machinery,
a wall, or any other object. A fix-mounted embodiment may
10
have other accoutrements adapted for fixed-mount applications, such as receptacles for a stylus adapted to a fixedmount, specialized electrical connections, features for locking the PDA inside the case to prevent theft, or designs
specifically adapted to shed water when rained upon.
15
FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
100 shown in an open position. The front case 102 and rear
case 104 are shown open about the hinge 114. Membrane
110 is shown installed into gasket 106, and the recessed
portion 120 and raised portion 122 of membrane 110 is
20
illustrated looking from the inside of the case. The clasp
mechanisms are not shown in this illustration. Hand strap
112 is shown attached to rear case 104.
The hand strap 112 in the present embodiment allows the
user to hold the embodiment 100 securely in his hand while
Electrical connections may require an insulated metal
conductor from the PDA through the wall of the protective
FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
100 shown in an exploded state. The hand strap 116 attaches
to the rear cover 104. The overmolded grommet 106 holds
the stylus 108 and is attached to front cover 102. The
membrane 110 attaches to the grommet 106 and is held in
place with an o-ring 302.
FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
30
100 shown from the rear. The hand strap 116 is shown, along
with rear cover 104 and front cover 102. The stylus 108 is
The membrane 110 in the present embodiment has a
shown inserted into the overmolded grommet 106.
recessed portion 120 and a raised portion 122. The recessed
FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of the embodiment 100. The
portion 120 may be adapted to press flat against the touch
front cover 102, membrane 110, stylus 108, and hinge 114
35 are all visible.
screen area of a specific PDA. The raised portion 122 may
FIG. 6 illustrates a section view of the embodiment 100
be adapted to fit over an area of the specific PDA where
several buttons are located.
taken through the section line shown in FIG. 5. The front
The raised portion 122 allows the user to operate the
cover 102, rear cover 104, overmolded gasket 106, stylus
buttons on the PDA. The raised portion 122 is adapted such
108, membrane 110, hand strap 112, and o-ring 302 are all
40 shown hatched in this view.
that the buttons on the PDA are easily operated through the
FIG. 7 illustrates a detail view of the embodiment 100
protective membrane 110. The raised portion 122 may have
special features to aid the user in pressing the buttons. For
shown in FIG. 6. Front case 102 and rear case 104 are joined
example, the raised portion 122 may comprise a dimpled
at hinge 114. Overmolded gasket 106 traps membrane 110
area for the user’s finger located directly over the button.
and o-ring 302 locks membrane 110 in place. Overmolded
45
Further, a feature to aid the user may comprise a section of
gasket 106 may be formed by molding thermoplastic polymerized rubber over the front cover 102.
membrane 110 defined by a thinner area around, the section,
enabling the user to more easily deflect the section of
The replacement of the membrane 110 is accomplished by
membrane over the button. The area of thinner material may
removing o-ring 302, pushing the membrane 110 from the
comprise a large section or a thin line. Further, tactile
overmolded gasket 106, snapping a new membrane 110 into
50
elements, such as small ribs or bumps may be incorporated
place, and replacing the o-ring 302. The ease of replacement
into the membrane 110 in the area of the buttons so that the
of the present embodiment allows a user to quickly replace
user has a tactile sensation that the user’s finger is over the
a damaged membrane 110, allows a user to upgrade their
button. The tactile element may be particularly effective if
case to a newer model PDA, and may allow a user to select
the button was a power switch, for example, that turned on
from various membranes 110 for the particular application.
55
the PDA.
One embodiment may have a single case packaged with a
The configuration of the membrane 110 may be unique to
small variety of several types of membranes 110. In such an
each style or model of PDA, however, the front case 102 and
embodiment, the user may purchase the packaged set, select
rear case 104 may be used over a variety of PDAs. In the
the membrane 110 that suits the user’s particular PDA, and
install the selected membrane 110 with ease.
present embodiment, the changeover from one PDA variety
60
to another is accomplished by replacing the membrane 110
The protective cover of the present invention may have
without having to change any other parts. The present
direct connections through the cover for connecting through
embodiment may therefore be mass-produced with the only
the case. Such a connection is known as pass through. The
customizable area being the membrane 110 to allow differconnections may be for power, communication, heat dissient models of PDAs to be used with a certain front case 102
pation, optical transmissions, mechanical motion, or other
65 reasons.
and rear case 104.
25
US 7,180,735 B2
9
10
cover so that a flexible cable may be attached or so that the
PDA in its protective case may be placed in a cradle for
making the electrical connection. Inside the protective
cover, the electrical connections may be made with a flexible
cable that is plugged into the PDAs electrical connector
before the PDA is secured in the protective cover. Alternatively, a fixed connector may be attached to the protective
cover and the PDA is slid into contact with the fixed
or through varying the thickness of the case and other
geometries of the case in the area of the PDA transmission
and reception antenna.
In a different embodiment, it may be desirable to shield
the PDA from outside RF interference. In this case, the
protective cover may be a metallic construction or may be
plastic with a metallized coating. Further, membrane 110
may have a light metallized coating applied so that membrane 110 is slightly or fully conductive. An application for
such an embodiment may be the use of the PDA in an area
of high RF noise that may interfere with the operation of the
PDA, or conversely, the use may be in an area that is highly
susceptible to external RF interference and the PDAs RF
noise may be interfering with some other device.
The PDA may be equipped with a camera or other video
capture device. A protective cover may have provisions to
allow a clear image to be seen by the video capture device
through the case. Such provisions may include an optically
clear insert assembled into the protective case. Other
embodiments may have a sliding trap door whereby the user
of the PDA may slide the door open for the camera to see.
Additionally, other embodiments may comprise a molded
case that has an optically clear lens integrally molded. Such
an embodiment may be additionally painted, plated, or
overrnolded, with the lens area masked so that the painting,
plating, or overrnolding does not interfere with the optics of
the lens.
connector. Another embodiment may be for a compliant, yet
fixed mounted electrical coimector to be rigidly mounted
inside the protective cover. A compliant, yet fixed mounted
electrical connector may comprise spring loaded probes,
commonly referred to as pogo pins. Another embodiment
may comprise spring fingers that engage the PDAs electrical
contacts. On the outside of the protective cover, the electrical contacts may be terminated into a fix-mounted connector
adapted to receive a cable from a computer. The connector
may be designed to receive a cable that plugs directly into
the PDA or it may be adapted to receive a different connector. Further, the electrical connection to the PDA may be
permanently attached to a cable that extends out of the
protective cover. Another embodiment may be to have a
small trap door that opens in the protective cover to allow
access to the electrical connections. While the trap door
exposes the PDA to the elements the cover is designed to
protect against, a direct electrical connection may eliminate
a potential cabling connection problem. Connections for
fiber optics can be handled in similar fashions as the
electrical connections. An embodiment with a power connection may comprise the use of inductive coils located in
proximity to each other but on opposite sides of the protective cover. Those skilled in the art of may devise other
embodiments for connecting through the protective cover
without deviating from the scope and intent of the present
invention.
Through the air communications, such as infrared and
over the air radio frequency (RF) communications may pass
through the protective cover. The material for the front case
102 and rear case 104 may be selected to be clear plastic,
such as polycarbonate. The infrared transceiver of the PDA
can communicate through a clear plastic case to another
infrared transceiver outside of the case. Further, the appropriate selection of material for the protective case can
thereby enable various RF transmissions, such as cellular
phone communications or other wireless communication
protocols.
An infrared transmission through the protective case of an
embodiment of the invention may be accomplished by
making the entire protective case out of a clear material.
Altematively, a selected area of the protective case may be
clear while the remainder of the case is opaque. The selected
area may be constructed of a separate piece that allows the
infrared light through the protective case. Altematively, the
selected area may be constructed of a portion of the protective case that manufactured in a way so as not to be opaque,
such as selectively not painting or plating the area of a
plastic protective case. Furtl1er, the clear material through
which the transmission occurs may be tinted in the visual
spectrum but be translucent or at least partially transparent
in the infrared spectrum of the device.
Aprotective case may allow RF transmissions to and from
the PDA while the case is closed. Such a case may be
constructed of a non-metallic material. In some embodi-
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
60
ments, the material of the protective case may be tuned to
65
allow certain frequencies to pass through the protective
cover and tune out other frequencies, through loading the
material used in the protective cover with conductive media
An optically clear area may be used for a barcode scanner
portion of a PDA to scan through the case to the outside
world. In such an embodiment, a barcode scanner may be
protected from the elements while still maintaining full
functionality in the outside world.
The PDA may have indicator lights that indicate various
items, such as power, battery condition, communication, and
other status items. The indicator lights may be in positions
on the PDA that are not readily viewable through the
protective membrane 110. The indicator lights may be made
visible through the protective case by using light pipes that
transmit the light from the PDAs status light to the outside
of the protective case. Such light pipes may be constructed
of clear or tinted plastic, or other translucent or semitransparent material. The light pipes may be formed as an
integral feature to the protective case or may be separate
parts that are formed separately and assembled to the
protective case.
The PDA may have a speaker or other element that makes
noise and/or the PDA may have a microphone for receiving
audio signals. The speaker may be an audio quality device
for reproducing sound or it may be a simple buzzer for
indicating various functions of the PDA. The microphone
may be an audio quality device or it may be a low performance device. Special provisions may be made for transmitting sound through a protective case. Such provisions
may range from a single hole in the case to a tuned cavity
that would allow sound to pass through with minimum
distortion. Other embodiments may include a transmissive
membrane adapted to allow sound to pass through the
protective case with a minimum of distortion. Such membranes may be located near the speaker and microphone
elements of the PDA. Such membranes may be watertight
membranes known by the brand name Gore-Tex.
The PDA may generate heat during its use and provisions
for dissipating the heat may be built into the protective
cover. A heat-dissipating device may be integral to the
protective cover or may comprise one or more separate
parts. For example, a metallic protective cover may be
adapted to touch the PDA in the area of heat generation and
US 7,180,735 B2
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conduct the heat outwardly to the rest of the protective
The features used to secure cover 902 to PDA 904 may be
cover. The protective cover may thereby dissipate the heat to
any mechanism whereby the cover 902 can be secured. This
the external air without overheating the PDA. In another
includes snapping, clamping, fastening, sliding, gluing,
example, a separate heat sink may be applied to the PDA and
adhering, or any other method for securing two components
allowed to protrude through a hole in the protective cover.
together.
The heat sink may thereby transfer the heat from the PDA to
FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment
the ambient environment without overheating the PDA. The
of a receiver 1002 for holding the protective case 100. The
heat sinks may be attached to the PDA with a thermally
protective case 100 is held into receiver 1002 in such a
conductive adhesive. Other embodiments may include vent
manner that the touch screen display is facing into the
10
holes for heat dissipation and air circulation.
receiver 1002, to afford the touch screen display with
protection.
The PDA may have a button that may not be located
FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
undemeath the membrane 110. An embodiment may include
of a receiver 1002 shown from the opposite side as FIG. 10.
a flexible, pliable, or otherwise movable mechanism that
may transmit mechanical motion from the outside of the 15 Receiver 1002 is comprised of a back 1102, a belt clip
mechanism 1104, and four clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and
case to a button on the PDA. Such an embodiment may have
1112. The protective case 100 is placed into the receiver
a molded dimpled surface that is pliable and allows a user to
1002 by inserting one end into the receiver, then rotating the
activate a button on a PDA by pressing the dimpled surface.
protective case 100 into position such that the snapping
Another embodiment may have a rigid plunger that is
mounted on a spring and adapted to transmit the mechanical 20 action of clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 are engaged
movement from the exterior of the case to a button on the
to hold protective case 100 securely.
Receiver 1002 may be adapted to clip onto a person’s belt
PDA. The buttons on the PDA may be located on any side
or may be adapted to be mounted on a wall or other location
of the PDA and an embodiment of a case may have pliable
where the PDA may be stored. The orientation of the
areas adapted to allow the user to press buttons that are not
on the front face of the PDA.
protective case 100 is such that the touch screen element of
25
the PDA is protected during normal transport and storage,
FIG. 8 is an illustration of embodiment 800 of the present
since the touch screen interface is facing the back 1102 of
invention wherein the PDA 802 is encapsulated by a prothe receiver 1002.
tective cover 804. The installation of the PDA 802 is to slide
Receiver 1002 may be made of compliant plastic that
PDA 802 into the opening 808, then fold door 806 closed
and secure with flap 810, which is hinged along line 812. 30 allows the clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 to move out
of the way and spring back during insertion or removal of
Areas 814 and 816 may comprise a hook and loop fastener
the protective case 100. In the present embodiment, receiver
system or other fastening device. Recessed area 818 is
1002 may be constructed of a single part. In alternative
adapted to fit against touch screen 820 of PDA 802.
embodiments, receiver 1002 may be constructed of multiple
Embodiment 800 may be comprised of a single molded
parts and of multiple materials, such as a metal back with
plastic part that may be very low cost. As shown, embodi- 35
spring loaded clips. In other embodiments, special features
ment 800 may not be completely weathertight, since the
may be included in the protective case 100 where the
door 806 does not completely seal the enclosure. However,
receiver 1002 may engage a special feature for securing the
such an embodiment may afford considerable protection to
protective case 100.
the PDA 802 in the areas of dust protection, scratch protecFIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment 1200 of the present
tion, and being occasionally rained upon. Further, the low 40
invention of a protective cover for a PDA or other device. A
cost of the embodiment 800 may be changed often during
rigid front cover 1202 and a rigid rear cover 1204 are held
the life of the PDA 802.
together with a series oflatches 1206, 1208, 1210, and 1212.
Embodiment 800 may have custom colors, logos, or
The protective membrane 1214 protects the touchscreen of
designs that allow a user to personalize their PDA with a
the enclosed PDA. A folding rigid cover 1216 operates as a
45
specific cover that is suited to their mood or tastes. The
rigid shield to prevent the membrane 1214 from any damcolors, logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the
age. The stylus holder 1220 is formed from an overmolded
cover 804. Alternatively, different colors, logos, and designs
flexible material in which the membrane 1214 is mounted.
may be applied in a secondary operation such as printing,
Embodiment 1200 illustrates yet another embodiment of
painting, plating, or other application process.
the present invention wherein a rigid protective cover may
FIG. 9 is an illustration of embodiment 900 of the present 50 be used to contain and protect an electronic device, but
invention wherein a decorative cover 902 is snapped over a
provide full usable access to a touchscreen. The protective
PDA 904. The ends 906 and 908 snap over the PDA ends
membrane 1214 and case may be watertight in some
910 and 912 as an attachment mechanism for cover 902 to
embodiments.
PDA 904. Recessed area 914 is adapted to fit against touch
FIG. 13A illustrates an embodiment of a protective encloscreen 916 Embodiment 900 may be a cover for decorative 55 sure 1300 that encloses and protects a tablet PC 1302. PDAs
purposes only, or may be for protective purposes as well.
that have touch screens, as described above, have an interCover 902 may be emblazoned with logos, designs, or other
active flat-panel control, i.e., the touch screen display. Tablet
visual embellishments to personalize the PDA 904. The
PCs are portable electronic computing devices that have a
colors, logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the
high-resolution interactive flat-panel control that accepts
cover 904. Alternatively, different colors, logos, and designs 60 smooth stylus strokes such as handwriting. The embodiment
may be applied in a secondary operation such as printing,
of FIG. 13A is crush-resistant, impact-resistant, watertight,
painting, plating, or other application process.
and simultaneously allows interactive stylus strokes and
Embodiment 900 may be attached by snapping the cover
other sensitive user inputs to be accurately and easily
902 onto PDA 904. Special provisions in the case of PDA
transmitted through a protective screen membrane 1306 to
65
904 may be provided for a snapping feature of cover 902, or
the interactive flat-panel control of tablet PC 1302.
cover 902 may be adapted to hold onto PDA 904 without the
A watertight and shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310
use of special features in PDA 904.
may be fixed and sealed to the underside of the lid 1304
US 7,180,735 B2
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around the interactive flat-panel control opening. The protective screen membrane 1306 is fixed and sealed to the
shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310. The shock-absorbing
foam cushion 1310 maintains the watertightness of the
enclosure. The cushion 1310 also cushions the flat-panel
control of the tablet PC 1302 and protects it against breakage
if the enclosure and tablet PC are dropped or otherwise
subjected to shock. In accordance with the embodiment of
FIG. 13A, the shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310 has a
thickness of approximately 0.25 inches and extends approximately 0.060 inches below the underside of the interactive
flat-panel control opening of the lid 1304. One source of
suitable watertight shock-absorbing foam is E.A.R. Specialty Composites of 7911 Zionville Rd., Indianapolis, Ind.
46268. Cushion 1310 allows the protective screen membrane to move a distance of up to 0.125 inches during an
impact to the enclosure or when pressure is applied to
protect membrane 1306 while pushing the tablet PC control
buttons 1308 or writing on the interactive flat-panel control
with a stylus through the membrane. The shock-absorbing
foam cushion 1310 also pushes the protective screen membrane 1306 flatly against the surface of the interactive
flat-panel control of the tablet PC 1302 so that sensitive user
stylus strokes and other inputs are accurately transmitted.
The pressure of the cushion 1310 on the protective screen
membrane 1306 which holds the protective screen membrane 1306 flatly against the interactive flat-panel control of
the tablet PC 1302 also keeps display images, viewed
through the protective screen membrane, clear and distortion-free. In embodiments of the protective enclosure to
protect a touch-screen device, the protective membrane may
be adjacent to the touch screen but does not exert mechanical
pressure on the touch screen so that mechanical inputs such
as style strokes are sensed only when intended. In embodiments of the protective enclosure to protect a tablet PC that
has an RF stylus or to protect a handheld device that a
capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel control, the protective membrane may be pressed flat against the interactive
flat-panel control which allows undistorted viewing but does
not adversely affect the control since the interactive control
uses capacitance or radio frequencies for interactive input
instead of mechanical pressure.
The protective screen membrane 1306 in the embodiment
of FIG. 13A is at least partially transparent and has a
thickness of approximately 0.010 inches. The thickness of
the protective screen membrane 1306 should be typically in
the range of 0.001 inches to 0.020 inches so that stylus
strokes on the upper surface of protective screen membrane
1306 are transmitted accurately to the interactive flat-panel
control of the tablet PC 1302. Likewise, protective screen
membrane 1306 may be flexible or semi-rigid and may be
made of polyvinylchloride or other suitable transparent
thermoplastic, such as, for example, polyvinylchloride, thermoplastic polycarbonate, thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, thermoplastic
polyurethane, which has a hardness and texture that permits
the stylus to smoothly glide across the surface without
skipping, grabbing, or catching against the surface. Some
tablet PC’s utilize a stylus which transmits strokes to the PC
by way of radio frequency transmission. Protective screen
membrane 1306 may be made of a rigid, clear, engineered
thermoplastic such as, for example, thermoplastic polycarbonate or other thermoplastics as described above, for
enclosing a tablet PC. A protective screen membrane 1306
that is rigid may include watertight access ports that allow
operation of mechanical buttons or switches of the tablet PC
1302, such as, for example, control buttons 1308. The
watertight access ports may include holes that have a
moveable watertight plug, or any type of watertight button
or lever. Protective screen membrane 1306 may include an
anti-glare coating or can be made with an anti-glare texture
so that display images are clearly viewable without distortion through the protective screen membrane 1306.
In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the lid 1304 of the
protective enclosure 1300 may have an extemal stylus
holder 1324 that securely holds a stylus used with the tablet
10 PC 1302.
As described above with respect to FIG. 1, the lid 1304
and the base 1312 may have air-permeable watertight vents
1318, 1326 that permit the cooling fans of the tablet PC 1302
to force air exchange to dissipate heat by convection so that
15
the tablet PC 1302 does not overheat. Watertight vents 1318,
1326 may comprise holes in the lid 1304 and base 1312 that
are made watertight by covering and sealing the holes with
an air-permeable watertight membrane such as, for example,
a fabricated expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE)
20
membrane. One source that fabricated expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes is available from is W.
L. Gore & Associates, Inc. of 555 Papermill Road, Newark,
Del. 19711.
The embodiment of FIG. 13A may also comprise a pod
door 1322 that allows access to table PC interfaces such as,
for example, PCMCIA or Smart Card slots. The pod door
1322 is attached to the lid 1304 so that it may be removed
or opened. In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the pod door
1322 is hingedly connected to a portion of the base 1312 at
30
a location of the base 1312 that has an opening that allows
access to the tablet PC interfaces. The opening can be
covered by a watertight seal 1320, such as, for example, an
O-ring that is part of pod door 1322.
The underside of the lid 1304 also has a watertight seal,
35
such as an O-ring, so that when compound latches 1328,
1330, 1332 and 1334 are closed, the O-ring or seal of the lid
1304 forms a watertight seal against the base 1312. The
protective enclosure 1300 protects the tablet PC 1302 from
water and dust intrusion sufficient to comply with Ingress
40
Protection (IP) rating of IP 67, i.e., the protective enclosure
totally protects the enclosed tablet PC from dust and protects
the enclosed tablet PC from the effects of immersion in one
meter of water for 30 minutes.
25
The protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
may further comprise protective overmolding 1316 attached
to the lid 1304. A similar overmolding may be attached to the
base 1312. The protective overmolding 1316 may be made
of material that is easily gripped in slippery conditions and
provides additional shock absorption such as, for example,
50
rubber or silicone. The protective overmolding 1316 extends
above the surface of the lid in pre-determined areas to
provide protrusions that are easily gripped even in slippery
conditions. The protective enclosure of the embodiment of
FIG. 13 may further comprise watertight plugs such as
55
access port plug 1314 that fit snugly into openings in the
base 1312 that provide access to various interfaces, connecters and slots of the tablet PC 1302.
FIG. 13B illustrates a shell lid 1304 of the embodiment of
45
FIG. 13A. Shell lid 1304 and base 1312 may be made of
impact/crush resistant material such as glass-fiber reinforced
engineered thermoplastic, such as for example, glass reinforced polycarbonate. Alternatively, the shell lid 1304 and
shell base may be made of thermoplastic polycarbonate,
thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrylonitrile65
butadiene-styrene, and thermoplastic compositions containing one or more thereof, or other engineered thermoplastics
that provide a shock-resistant and impact resistant shell may
60
US 7,180,735 B2
15
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be used. The engineered thermoplastics may be reinforced
with glass fibers, carbon fibers, metal fibers, polyarnide
fibers and mixtures thereof. Shell lid 1304 may be further
reinforced with stilfeners 1334, 1336, 1338, 1340 that are
integrally embedded into the shell lid around the perimeter
of an opening in the shell that is directly over the interactive
flat-panel control portion of the tablet PC. The stilfeners
made be made of steel or other hard material so that the
protective enclosure provides shock absorption sufficient to
meet MIL-STD 8l0F, Method 516.5, Procedure 4 which is
a Transit Drop Test. In the Transit Drop Test, the protective
enclosure encloses a tablet PC or a mass equivalent to a
tablet PC. The protective enclosure is sequentially dropped
onto each face, edge and corner for a total of 26 drops over
plywood from a height of 48 inches. The protective enclosure is visually inspected after each drop and a functional
stilfeners provide additional strength and prevent flexing of
check for leakage is performed after all drops are completed.
10
the lid 1304 which enhances the watertightness and the
Some tablet PCs have a docking connector disposed on
the underside of the tablet PC so that the tablet PC can
impact/crush resistance.
FIG. 14 is an illustration of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
connect to power and signals. For example, emergency
with the lid 1404 detached from the base 1412. To protect
vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, or patrol cars, may
the tablet PC 1402 using the protective enclosure 1400, the
have a docking station installed near the driver’s seat onto
15
tablet PC 1402 is disposed to fit snugly into the base 1412.
which the driver may dock a tablet PC. The embodiment of
The lid is oriented so that hooks 1436, 1438 area aligned
protective enclosure base 1600, as illustrated in FIG. 1, may
with pin 1440 that is connected to a portion of the base 1412
comprise a docking connector charmel 1624 that is recessed
and the lid is closed so that hooks 1436, 1438 are retained
with respect to the upper surface of the base that allows a
by pin 1440. Compound latches 1428, 1430, 1432, 1434 are
docking connector to run from a docking connector that is
20
then snapped onto the lid so that the lid is compressed tightly
disposed in the center underside of the tablet PC to access
against the base providing a watertight seal.
port 1626. Alternatively, a docking pass-through connector
FIG. 15 is a bottom view of the embodiment of FIG. 13.
1620 may be made an integral and watertight part of the
The base 1516 of protective enclosure 1500 includes waterprotective enclosure base 1600 so that the tablet PC docking
tight vents such as watertight vent 1506 for air exchange to
connector attaches to the docking pass-through connector
25
permit heat and sound dissipation from the enclosed tablet
1620 which, in tum, connects to the docking station in
PC while at the same time maintaining watertightness.
substantially the same manner as an unenclosed tablet PC.
Pod release knobs 1512, 1518 are attached to the base
FIG. 17 illustrates another embodiment of protective
enclosure 1700 for a handheld electronic device 1702 that
1516 so that the knobs can be rotated clockwise to securely
wedge against an edge of pod door 1522 to close the pod
has an interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic
30
door 1522 tightly against a rim around an the pod opening
devices that have an interactive flat-panel control benefit
in base 1516 to create a watertight seal. Knobs 1512, 1518
from being enclosed in a rugged protective enclosure that is
can be rotated counter-clockwise to release pod door 1522 to
crush-resistant, watertight and shock-resistant and that
access the interfaces of the tablet PC covered by pod door
simultaneously allows the user to interact with a sensitive
1522.
interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic devices
35
To provide additional protection against mechanical
that have interactive flat-panel control may include music
shock, heavy-duty comer bumpers such as bumper 1504
players, MP3 players, audio player/recorders, and video
may be securely attached to the corners of base 1516.
players. For example, Apple Computer’s iPod player is a
As shown in FIG. 15, an adjustable heavy-duty handle
popular handheld interactive device that plays MP3 or
may be attached to the base 1516 of the protective enclosure
otherwise digitally-encoded music/audio. The Apple iPod
40
1500 to allow easy and reliable transportation of the proplayer has an interactive flat-panel control in which a portion
tective enclosure 1500 that encloses a tablet PC. In some
of the front panel is a flat-panel display and portion of the
circumstances, it is convenient to hold the protective enclofront panel is an interactive flat-panel control, called a touch
sure using hand strap 1514 that is made of strong slightly
wheel in some versions of the ipod and click wheel in other
stretchable fabric. Hand strap 1514 attaches to four points of
versions of the iPod, that has capacitive touch/proximity
the base 1516 to that a user’s hand or wrist can be inserted 45 sensors. One function of the interactive flat-panel control,
along the either the longer or shorted length on the protective
i.e. touch wheel, emulates a rotary control knob by sensing
enclosure 1500 and enclosure tablet PC. Hand strap 1514
circular motion of a user’s finger using capacitive sensors.
The click wheel has the same function with the additional
may be made of neoprene or other strong stretchable material to securely hold the protective enclosure to the user’s
feature of sensing proximity of a user’s finger and emulating
50
arm even in slippery conditions. The protective enclosure
button presses by a user’s finger at pre-determined areas.
In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the shell lid 1706 and the
may further include a neck strap to provide a comfortable
solution for using the tablet PC while standing.
shell base 1704 are made of polycarbonate or other engiFIG. 16 illustrates a top view of the protective enclosure
neered thermoplastics that are crush-resistant and impact
base 1600. Watertight vents such as watertight vent 1616
resistant. Shell base 1704 has a watertight seal 1718, which
55
allow air exchange for heat dissipation and sound transmismay be an overmolded gasket, o-ring, liner or other seal that
sion from an enclosed tablet PC. Seal rim 1614 is an
prevents water from entering the protective enclosure 1700
when the handheld interactive device 1702 is enclosed
integrally formed part of the protective enclosure 1600
which is compressed against an O-ring in the protective
inside the protective enclosure 1700. Shell base 1704 and
enclosure lid to provide a watertight seal when compound
shell lid 1706 may include watertight vents, electrical con60
latches 1628, 1630, 1632, 1634 are closed onto the lid.
nectors, see-through areas or features as disclosed with
respect to FIG. 1.
Intemal bumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 attach to the
In the embodiment of FIG. 17, shell lid 1706 includes
interior corners of protective enclosure base 1600 to provide
cushion and mechanical shock protection to an enclosed
apertures over predetermined portions of the handheld intertablet PC. The L-shape and non-solid interior of internal
active device 1702, such as the areas directly over the
65
bumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 allows the bumpers to
display screen 1714 and the interactive flat-panel control
deflect and absorb the shock if the enclosed tablet PC is
1712, or other designated areas as desired. A protective
dropped or otherwise subjected to mechanical shock. The
screen membrane 1710 that is at least partially transparent is
US 7,180,735 B2
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18
thick. In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the thickness of the
permanently or removably fixed in a watertight marmer to
the underside of shell lid 1706 in the aperture that is over the
protective control membrane is approximately 0.020 inches.
display screen 1714. The protective screen membrane 1710
The protective control membrane 1708 may be any thickis recessed with respect to the upper surface of the shell lid
ness in the range of 0.003 inches to 0.020 inches that is
1706 which provides a protective elevated rim that protects
adequate to provide a rugged watertight membrane through
the display screen 1714 from breakage. Protective screen
which capacitance can be correctly sensed by the interactive
membrane 1710 may be PVC, silicone or other material that
flat-panel control 1712.
is watertight and rugged. In the case that display screen 1714
The upper surface of the protective control membrane
is a touch screen, the protective screen membrane 1710
1708 has a velvet/matte texture with a texture depth of
10 0.0004
to 0.003 inches that reduces the surface area of the
should be smooth enough and thin enough that stylus strokes
and other inputs are transmitted accurately to the touch
membrane that is in frictional contact with the user’s finger
screen as disclosed above with respect to FIG. 1, FIG. 12,
and permits a user’s finger to glide rapidly upon the surface
and FIG. 13.
of the membrane without catching or sticking as a result of
In accordance with the embodiment of FIG. 17, a protec15 the reduced friction. The hardness of the polycarbonate
tive control membrane 1708 is permanently or removably
material, or other hard engineered thermoplastic, also
reduces the friction.
fixed in a watertight manner to the underside of shell lid
1706 in an aperture that is over the interactive flat-panel
control 1714 of the handheld device 1702. The protective
screen membrane 1710 is recessed with respect to the upper
surface of the shell lid 1706 which provides protective
elevated rim that protects the display screen 1714 from
breakage and provides tactile feedback that guides a user’s
finger to the desired area even in slippery conditions.
Interactive flat-panel control 1712 has capacitive sensors
which are part of a proximity/touch detector circuit. When a
grounded object, such as a person’s finger, which has free air
capacitance of several hundred picofarads, is brought close
to the capacitive sensors, the total capacitance measured by
the detector circuit increases because the capacitance of the
object with free air capacitance adds to the capacitance of
the sensors since the total capacitance of two capacitors in
parallel is additive. Multiple sensors may also be arranged so
that movement of an object with free air capacitance can be
detected, for example, movement of a person’s finger in a
circular motion analogous to turning a mechanical control
knob. Some examples of interactive flat-panel controlled
PDA’s include iPod and iPod Mini music and audio players
from Apple Computer. In some PDAs, such as the Apple
iPod, capacitive sensors may be disposed below a front
panel made from a dielectric such as polycarbonate which
has a dielectric constant in the range of 2.2—3.8. In the
embodiment of FIG. 17, the protective control membrane
1708 is made of thin polycarbonate that is slightly flexible,
or other engineered thermoplastics that provide the rugged
watertight protection and at the same time permit the capacitive sensors of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
function correctly. Likewise, a protective control membrane
1708 with a dielectric constant that is too high may retain an
electric charge long enough to reduce the response rate of
the sensor to motion of a user’s finger from one capacitive
sensor zone of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
another. A protective control membrane 1708 that is conductive or has a dielectric constant that is too low may
diminish the sensitivity of the capacitive sensor by combining in series the capacitance of the protective membrane and
the dielectric front panel of the PDA which results in a
lowering of the overall capacitance.
Total capacitance between an object, such as a finger
touching the protective control membrane 1708, and interactive flat-panel control 1712 is a function of the thickness
and the dielectric constant of the protective control membrane 1708. The capacitance between the object, such as a
finger, and the capacitive sensors of the interactive flat-panel
control 1712 is proportional to the distance between the
object and the sensors. The sensitivity of the capacitive
sensors to the object may be diminished or completely
eliminated if the protective control membrane 1708 is too
Headphones or other accessories may be electrically
connected to handheld device 1702 the through the protec20 tive enclosure 1700 by disposing the wire of the headphone
or accessory in an insertable gasket 1716 which fits snugly
into one end of the shell base 1704.
25
30
35
40
45
50
FIG. 18 illustrates another embodiment of protective
enclosure 1800 which is substantially the same as protective
enclosure 1700 of FIG. 17. However, protective enclosure
1800 has an alternative electrical pass-through for accessories. In the embodiment of FIG. 18, shell base 1804 includes
an adapter cable 1816 that has an adapter plug 1812 at one
end which plugs into a jack of handheld device 1802. At the
other end of the adapter cable 1816 is an adapter jack 1814
that is molded into, or otherwise integrally made part of,
shell base 1804. An external accessory, such as a pair of
headphones, may then be plugged into the adapter jack 1814
while the handheld device 1802 in enclosed in protective
enclosure 1800. Altematively, a one-piece adapter that
includes both a jack 1814 and a plug 1812 without a cable
1816 may be integrally disposed into shell base 1804.
Shell lid 1806 is adapted to retain an O-ring 1808 that
seals the protective enclosure 1800 when shell lid 1806 is
latched tightly onto shell base 1804 so that water cannot
enter protective enclosure 1800.
FIG. 19A is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure 1900 for an interactive flat-panel control device. The protective enclosure 1900 has an intemal
plug 1902 that electrically connects to an extemal jack 1914
to form an integrated electrical pass-through. The internal
plug 1902 and the extemal jack 1914 may be offset from
each other and disposed side-by-side to minimize the length
of the protective enclosure 1900.
Protective enclosure 1900 includes an upper shell 1906
that has a protective membrane 1916 that allows the handheld electronic device to be viewed and controlled. Recessed
area 1918 is textured to minimize friction between a user’s
finger and the protective membrane 1916.
Upper shell 1906 is hingedly connected to lower shell
1908. Hinge pivot stops 1920 and 1922 form part of lower
shell 1908. Hinge pivot stops 1920 and 1922 have a beveled
side that allows upper shell 1906 to open to a maximum
pivot angle of approximately 30 degrees with respect to
60
lower shell 1908 at which point the hinge pivot stops 1920
and 1922 abut a flat surface of upper shell 1906 inhibiting
upper shell 1906 from opening wider. The maximum pivot
angle protects the internal plug 1902 from being broken off
and protects the jack of the handheld electronic device from
65
being damaged by restricting the angle of the handheld
electronic device with respect to the lower shell during
insertion or removal of the handheld electronic device.
55
US 7,180,735 B2
19
20
An interactive handheld electronic device may be
restricted by controlling the maximum angle of the upper
enclosed in protective enclosure 1900 and the upper shell
shell with respect to the lower shell 2008. Flexure of the
1906 may be closed and latch 1910 may be closed so that
internal plug 2002 is provided by surrounding the plug with
protective enclosure 1900 is submersibly watertight, thus
an elastomer having a modulus of elasticity that allows the
5
protecting the handheld electronic device from water and
plug to both flex adequately to prevent damage to the plug
from crushing forces or impact. Watertight, crush-resistant
and the supporting structure of the plug, and to prevent
protective enclosure 1900 simultaneously enables interacdamage to the socket of the handheld electronic device,
tion with the handheld electronic device via the protective
while maintaining the plug substantially stationary and
membrane and via an electrical interface. For example, an
sufliciently secure to allow the handheld electronic device to
10
Apple iPod may be inserted into the protective enclosure
be easily aligned, inserted, and removed from the enclosure.
1900 with intemal plug 1902 which is a 3.5-mm stereo plug
Extemal jack 2014 is electrically connected to intemal
that inserts into the headphone jack of the ipod. Headphones
plug 2002 by cable 2004 which may be soldered or otheror other accessories can then be inserted into the external
wise securely connected to the terminals of external jack
jack 1914 that is a 3.5-mm stereo jack, which allows
2014 and intemal plug 2002. Cable 2004 may be a set of
15
individual wires, a ribbon cable, or a co-axial cable, as
electrical contact of the headphones or accessories to the
iPod while the enclosure is closed and in a submersibly
desired, depending on the type of extemal jack 2014 and
watertight state. Any type of intemal and extemal plugs and
internal plug 2002 that are used. Various types of cables and
jacks may be used to accommodate other interfaces.
connectors may be used for various interface signal levels,
FIG. 19B is another view of the embodiment of FIG. 19A.
protocols and frequencies.
20
The upper shell of 1906 is hingedly connected to the lower
FIG. 21 illustrates an elastomeric covering 2104 that
shell 1908 by hinge 1912. The body of the intemal plug 1902
covers and substantially surrounds a portion of internal plug
and the external jack 1914 are substantially surrounded and
2102 and a portion external jack 2014 (shown in FIG. 20) so
sealed by elastomeric covering 1904 so that no liquid may
that intemal plug 2102 and extemal jack 2014 are held in
enter the protective enclosure 1900 through openings or
place within lower shell 2108 by an elastomeric covering
25
gaps in or around internal plug 1902 and external jack 1914
2104. Elastomeric covering 2104 may be made of thermoresulting in the protective enclosure being submersibly
plastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic rubber (TPR) or
watertight when closed. The elastomeric covering 1904 may
other materials that have elastomeric properties as described
be made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic
above. Elastomeric covering 2104 may be formed by varirubber (TPR) or other soft rubber-like materials. The flexous processing including overrnolding and two-shot mold30
ibility of the elastomeric covering 1904 allows internal plug
ing. The elastomeric properties of elastomeric covering
1902 to tilt to some extent to facilitate insertion and removal
2104 allows intemal plug 2102 to tilt so that it may be easily
of an interactive handheld electronic device without breakinserted into a corresponding jack of the handheld electronic
ing the electrical connection and without damaging the
device and easily removed from the handheld electronic
elastomeric covering 1904 or the protective enclosure 1900.
device jack, while at the same time providing a submersibly
35
FIG. 20 is a view of the lower shell of the protective
watertight seal when the handheld electronic device is
enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 19A with the inteenclosed within the protective enclosure.
grated watertight electrical pass-through connector exposed.
FIG. 22 illustrates hinge pivot stops 2220 and 2222 of the
The external jack 2014 may be of a size such that an aperture
protective enclosure 2200 of FIG. 19 in the open position at
2010 in the lower shell 2008 is helpful in accommodating
a maximum angle. At the maximum angle, hinge pivot stops
40
and positioning external jack 2014. For example, external
2220 and 2222 of the lower shell 2208 abut against a portion
jack 2014 may be disposed within aperture 2010 of lower
of upper shell 2206 which inhibits the upper shell 2206 from
shell 2008 so that an upper part of external jack 2014 is
opening wider.
FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the lower shell 2300 of the
disposed within lower shell 2008 and a lower part of external
jack extends below lower shell 2008. Lower shell 2008 may
protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 19A having
45
optionally contain a substructure 2006 over which an elasa single external jack 2302. Elastomeric covering 2304
tomeric covering may be formed. Internal plug 2002 is
protects external jack 2302 and holds it in place within the
disposed within lower shell 2008 so that internal plug 2002
lower shell 2300 of the protective enclosure.
aligns with a. corresponding jack of the handheld electronic
FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure 2400
device.
having two external jacks 2402 and 2406. Elastomeric
50
Hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 form part of lower shell
covering 2404 protects external jacks 2302 and 2306 and
2008. Hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 have a beveled side
holds them in place within the lower shell of protective
that allows an upper shell to open to a maximum pivot angle
enclosure 2300. Two extemal jacks 2402 and 2406 may be
that corresponds to a maximum desired angle with respect to
connected electrically in parallel to an intemal plug which in
the lower shell 2008 so that the handheld electronic device
turn may be connected to a headphone jack of an interactive
55
may be inserted while connecting to internal plug 2002. In
handheld electronic device such as an Apple iPod. A first
the embodiment of FIG. 19A, the angle is approximately 30
pair of headphones or earbuds 2408 may then be connected
degrees with respect to lower shell 2008 at which point the
to extemal jack 2402 and a second set of headphones or
beveled side of hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 abut a flat
earbuds 2410 may be simultaneously connected to extemal
surface of the upper shell which inhibits the upper shell from
jack 2406 thus allowing two users to listen to the one iPod
60
opening wider. The maximum pivot angle protects the
simultaneously, for example, when riding together on a ski
lift, or in a raft.
internal plug 2002 from being broken olf or damaging the
socket of the handheld electronic device during the process
FIG. 25 illustrates a removable cable management belt
of inserting or removing the handheld electronic device to or
clip 2502 for the protective enclosure 2500 of the embodifrom the enclosure. By restricting the angle at which the
ment of FIG. 19A with the belt clip 2502 attached to the
handheld electronic device can be inserted or removed from 65 protective enclosure 2500. Cable management belt clip 2502
the enclosure, the maximum flexure of the plug 2002 is
allows protective enclosure 2500 to conveniently attach to a
limited. As indicated above, the angle of the opening is
users belt. Cable management belt clip includes a flange
US 7,180,735 B2
21
22
2504 around which a cable 2516 of a pair of earbuds or other
cabled interface devices may be wrapped to prevent tangling. For example, an iPod user may wrap a pair of earbuds
2512 around cable management belt clip 2502 and toss the
assembly into a backpack or the glove box of a vehicle in
order to prevent the cable 2516 from becoming entangled.
Then, when the user is ready to ski, raft or dive, the earbuds
2512 may be unwound from the cable management belt clip
2502 and placed into the user’s ears so that the user can
enjoy listening to the iPod, while participating in an activity
that requires protection of the iPod from water, shock, or
other potential damage.
FIG. 26 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip 2602 for the protective enclosure 2600 of the embodiment of FIG. 19A with the belt clip removed. In some cases
it may be desirable to disconnect cable management belt clip
2602 from the protective enclosure 2600. Cable management belt clip 2606 has a pair of glides that slide onto rails
2610 that are connected to a back side of protective enclosure 2600. A clip release 2606 on cable management belt
clip 2602 may be deflected away from retainer 2608 which
allows cable management belt clip 2602 to slide away from
protective enclosure 2600.
Awatertight protective enclosure is therefore provided for
handheld electronic devices that is simple and easy to use
and provides a high degree of protection from water, shock
or other damage. An external jack is electronically connected to an internal plug in the enclosure, but is otherwise
isolated from the intemal portion of the enclosure so that
external electrical devices such as earphones and other
accessories can be used to access the handheld electrical
plated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed
to include other altemative embodiments of the invention
except insofar as limited by the prior art.
What is claimed is:
5
10
15
20
25
30
device by plugging into the external jack, while still maintaining the isolation of the handheld electronic device in the
enclosure and maintaining the watertight features of the
35
enclosure. The enclosure has a top shell that is limited as to
the angle at which it can pivot to an open position which
limits the angle at which the handheld electronic device can
be inserted into and removed from the enclosure. An internal
plug is mounted in a flexible elastomeric material which
allows the plug to flex so that the handheld electronic device
can be easily mated with the plug during insertion of the
handheld electronic device into the enclosure and easily
removed from the enclosure without flexing the intemal plug
beyond the limited access angle provided by the restricted
angle of opening of the top shell of the enclosure. This
beneficial feature allows the handheld device to be easily
inserted and removed in the enclosure without damage to
either the intemal plug or the jack on the handheld electronic
device. The external jack a11d the intemal plug are offset
from one another so that the length of the entire case is
minimized. In addition, additional extemal jacks can be
provided so that more than one accessory can be plugged
into the handheld electronic device simultaneously. In addition, a belt clip is provided that has a flange for winding the
cord of an accessory, such as the cord for earbuds, around
the flange to hold the wiring in a secure marmer when not in
use.
40
45
50
55
The foregoing description of the invention has been
presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is
not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the 60
precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be possible in light of the above teachings. The
embodiment was chosen and described in order to best
1. A protective enclosure for a handheld electronic device
having an interactive flat-panel control comprising:
an upper shell and a lower shell that are hingedly connected, said upper shell and said lower shell enclosing
said handheld electronic device, said handheld electronic device being a separate unit from said protective
enclosure, said handheld electronic device being insertable in and removable from said enclosure by hand,
said shell being substantially submersibly watertight
when closed, said enclosure having at least one hinge
pivot stop that constrains opening of said upper shell to
a maximum predetermined angle;
a protective membrane disposed within said upper shell,
said protective membrane being at least partially transparent so that said interactive flat-panel control is
visible through said protective membrane, said membrane being sufliciently thin and textured to permit
significantly smooth interactive tactile control of said
flat-panel control of said handheld electronic device;
an adapter disposed within said protective enclosure, said
adapter having an internal connector that is capable of
electrically connecting to said handheld electronic
device, said adapter having an external connector that
is capable of being electrically connected to an accessory for said handheld electronic device, said intemal
connector being electrically connected to said extemal
connector so that when said accessory is electrically
connected to said extemal connector said accessory is
also electrically connected to said intemal connector
and to said handheld electronic device; and
an elastomeric covering that covers and substantially
surrounds said internal connector and said extemal
connector of said adapter, said elastomeric covering
holding said intemal connector and said external connector in place within enclosure, said elastomeric covering permitting said internal connector to tilt within a
predetermined range of angles so that said intemal
connector easily connects to said handheld electronic
device when said handheld electronic device is inserted
into said protective enclosure within a range of predetermined angles, said elastomeric covering maintaining
said protective enclosure substantially submersibly
watertight when said handheld electronic device is
enclosed within said protective enclosure.
2. The protective enclosure of claim 1 further comprising:
a belt clip that attaches to a back side of said protective
enclosure, said back side of said protective enclosure
being opposite said protective membrane, said belt clip
having a deflectable clip release that engages with a
retainer that is connected to said back side of said
protective enclosure so that when said clip release is
not deflected said belt clip securely attaches to said
protective enclosure, said belt clip being releasable
from said enclosure by deflecting said clip release so
that it disengages from said retainer, said belt clip
having a flange around which a user may wind a cable
of an accessory of said handheld electronic device
around said belt clip, said flange retaining said cable
close to said enclosure and preventing said cable from
becoming entangled.
3. The enclosure of claim 2 wherein said enclosure has an
explain the principles of the invention and its practical
65
application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best
utilize the invention in various embodiments and various
elevated protective rim substantially surrounding a perimmodifications as are suited to the particular use contemeter edge of said interactive flat-panel control.
US 7,180,735 B2
23
4. The enclosure of claim 3 wherein said enclosure is
made of a rigid material and wherein said enclosure substantially surrounds said handheld electronic device and
wherein said enclosure is larger that said handheld electronic
device so that said enclosure is crush-resistant and said
enclosure substantially protects said handheld electronic
device from breakage caused by crushing forces.
5. An electrical adapter for a submersibly watertight
protective enclosure for a handheld electronic device com10
prising:
at least one intemal connector that is adapted to connect
to an interface of said handheld electronic device, said
internal connector adapted to be at least partially disposed within said enclosure and to connect to said
interface within said enclosure when said enclosure is 15
closed in a submersibly watertight manner;
at least one external connector that is adapted to connect
to an accessory for said handheld electronic device,
said external connector adapted to be at least partially
20
disposed within said enclosure and to connect to said
accessory that is outside of said enclosure when said
enclosure is closed in a submersibly watertight marmer;
cabling that is disposed within said enclosure that electrically connects said intemal connector to said external
25
connector; and
an elastomeric covering that at least partially surrounds
and provides a watertight seal around a portion of said
internal connector and said external connector and said
enclosure so that said enclosure is submersibly water30
tight when said enclosure is closed, said elastomeric
covering being flexible so that said internal connector
may be deflected at an angle that facilitates connection
of said connector to said interface of said electronic
device.
35
6. A method of manufacturing a submersibly watertight
enclosure with an accessory adapter for a handheld electronic device comprising:
24
providing a upper shell and a lower shell that form a
protective enclosure, said upper shell and said lower
shell being hingedly connected, said upper shell and
said lower shell being capable of enclosing said handheld electronic device, said handheld electronic device
being a separate unit from said upper shell and said
lower shell, said handheld electronic device being
insertable in and removable from said upper shell and
said lower shell by hand, said shell being substantially
submersibly watertight when closed, said enclosure
having at least one hinge pivot stop that constrains
opening of said upper shell to a maximum predetermined angle;
disposing an adapter at least partially within said protective enclosure, said adapter having an intemal connector that is capable of electrically connecting to an
interface of a handheld electronic device, said adapter
having an external connector that is capable of being
electrically connected to an accessory for said handheld
electronic device, said internal connector being electrically connected to said external connector so that
when said accessory is electrically connected to said
external connector said accessory is also electrically
connected to said internal connector and to said interface of said handheld electronic device;
at least partially covering said adapter with an elastomeric
covering that forms a submersibly watertight seal
around said adapter so that said enclosure is submersibly watertight when said enclosure is close, said elastomeric covering being flexible to that said intemal
connector may deflected at an angle to facilitate connection of said internal connector to said interface of
said handheld electronic device.
US007230823B2
(12) Ulllted States Patent
(10) Patent No.:
Richardson et al.
(54)
(45) Date of Patent:
PROTECTIVE MEMBRANE FOR TOUCH
SCREEN DEVICE
4,703,161 A
4,762,227 A
5,092,459 A
(75) Inventors: Curtis R. Richardson, Fort Collins,
CO (US); Dmlglas Kempel’ F0”
D329
747 SS
133275646
Colhns’ CO (US)
.
.
Notice:
(21)
App]. No.: 11/270,732
(22)
Filed:
10/1987 McLean
8/1988 Patterson
3/1992 Uljanic et al.
97;1992
1992 E
Hmgigg
et 31'
10/1992 Biilglriifill
5 175 873 A
12/1992 Goldenberg et al
133425609 SS
12/1993
5/1994 Bfightiflill
Dickinson
D347,324
D347,732
D3 53,043
D381,512
D386,611
D402,l05
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
Jun. 12, 2007
D330:329 s
D335,220 S
(73) Assignee: EI)Jt;(;r Products, LLC, Fort Collins, CO
(*)
US 7,230,823 B2
S
g
S
s
S
D409,374 S
Nov. 8, 2005
5/1993 W d t 1.
6/1994
12/1994
7/1997
11/1997
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Wentz
Vanskiver et 31,
Green
Sheu
Erickson
5/1999 Laba et al.
(Continued)
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
(65)
Prior Publication Data
US 2006/0061950 A1
Mar. 23, 2006
U'S'App1' N°' 11/077963’ R1°h‘“dS°“'
(Continued)
(63)
Related U.S. Application Data
.
.
. .
Continuation of application No. 10/645,439, filed on
Aug 20: 2003, 110W P31 N0- 6,995,975
(51) Int‘ CL
Primary Examiner—Anatoly Vortman
Assistant Exam,'ner_Amh0ny Q. Edwards
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—William W. Cochran;
C hr F
d &Y
LLC
oc an reun
oung
(57)
(52)
G06F 1/16
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl. ................. .. 361/683; 361/681; 220/23.91;
(58)
455/903; 455/5758
Field of Classification Search ............... .. 361/683
See application file for complete search history.
A protective membrane is disclosed for an electronic device
that has a touch screen. The touch screen is protected with
a membrane adapted to the specific contour and profile of the
(56)
2,392,787
D216,853
D220,233
3,590,988
D275,822
ABSTRACT
References Cited
electromc
device and allows the user to use the touch screen
interface with no shortcomings. The protective case is
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
further adapted to allow infrared and other communication
signals while the device is secured inside the case. Further,
electrical connections can be made through the case without
affecting the protection afforded the electronic device inside.
A
S
S
A
S
1/1946
3/1970
3/1971
7/1971
10/1984
Vermot
Schuman
Schuman
Hollar
Gatland et al.
9 Claims, 12 Drawing Sheets
US 7,230,823 B2
Page 2
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
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D413,202
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D419,767
D419,768
6,031,524
6,041,924
6,049,813
D423,272
6,068,119
D429,884
6,094,785
D433,798
S
S
S
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S
S
A
A
A
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134391467 B1
S
6,215,474
7/1999
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1/2000
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13465330
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6,614,722
6,646,864
6,665,174
6,698,608
6,995,976
2002/0101707
2004/0120219
S
B1
S
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B2
B2
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B2*
B1
B2
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A1
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Tzeng
Parker
Story e1a1.
Tserrg e1a1.
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A 1
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Richardson
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.
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* cited by examiner
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 1 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
FI1G.
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 2 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
FI2G.
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 3 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 4 of 12
FIG. 4
US 7,230,823 B2
JIHII
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 6 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
Now
2:
mo29:
I
§mF PF‘I5”0_.■l}mu,Vk.ml|u./I\ W[,uK¢.w?/7
oo_.
.c0_n_
o
NZ.
S” P a t e H
70
B;
m1
Om
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 8 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 9 of 12
914
FIG. 9
US 7,230,823 B2
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 11 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
11FIG.
U.S. Patent
Jun. 12, 2007
Sheet 12 of 12
US 7,230,823 B2
1220
PROTECTIVE
MEMBRANE
1214
7%
COVER
1206
1200
—///1'
lAJCH
PROTECHVE
COVER
FW(3.‘l2
US 7,230,823 B2
1
2
PROTECTIVE MEMBRANE FOR TOUCH
PDA is stored securely in the case. Further, the operation of
SCREEN DEVICE
the PDA through its touch screen interface should not be
hindered by a protective case. The case would also not
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
interfere with the connections between the PDA and another
APPLICATIONS
computer.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/645,439 entitled “Protective Membrane for
Touch Screen Device” by Curtis R. Richardson and Douglas 10
The present invention overcomes the disadvantages and
A. Kempel, filed Aug. 20, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,995,
limitations of the prior art by providing a protective case
976 which claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Pat. No.
whereby a touch screen display may be viewed and manipu6,646,864 entitled “Protective Case for Touch Screen
lated without impeding the performance of the display and
Device” by Curtis R. Richardson, issued Nov. 11, 2003,
which claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional 15 for use while the device is protected by the case. The touch
screen interface is comprised of a semi rigid translucent or
Patent Application Ser. No. 60/335,865 filed Nov. 19, 2001
at
least partially transparent material that is stiff enough and
by Curtis R. Richardson entitled “Protective Case for Touch
smooth enough for the stylus to move over the surface of the
Screen Device,” the entire contents of the applications are
material without digging into the surface of the material and
hereby specifically incorporated herein by reference for all
still being flexible enough so that the touch screen may be
they disclose and teach.
20
operated.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Further, the present invention may allow infrared and
other types of communications between a device inside the
case and an external electronic device while the device is
a. Field of the Invention
maintained in the protective case. The present invention also
The present invention pertains generally to protective 25
may allow for optional direct electrical connections to be
cases and specifically to protective cases for devices that
made through the case without having to open the case.
have a touch screen interface.
Additionally, pass-throughs for light, acoustics, heat,
b. Description of the Background
mechanical actuation, etc. may also be provided.
Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs are being very
The present invention may further comprise a belt clip for
30
widely used, and are being deployed in industrial as well as
holding the case on a person’s belt. The belt clip may be
office environments. PDAs are being used in industrial
designed so that the touch screen interface is oriented toward
environments for data collection, such as service inforrnathe user’s body for optimal protection from damage.
tion on an airplane, or for data delivery such as maps for fire
The present invention may therefore comprise a protecfighters and other emergency personnel. When PDAs are
35 tive membrane for a touch screen comprising: a recessed
deployed in such industrial applications, the data that is
area disposed over the touch screen, the recessed area being
collected and displayed on the PDA can be extremely
at least partially transparent; the surface finish having a
valuable and can be life saving.
predetermined smoothness; the recessed area having a preThe industrial environments impose harsh conditions that
determined thickness; the recessed area having a predetertypical PDAs are not designed to accommodate. For 40
mined stiffness; the predetermined smoothness, the predeexample, damage can be done to the PDA through rough
termined thickness, and the predetermined stiffness being
handling and dropping. Further, industrial chemicals, grease,
selected such that simultaneous pressing and sliding of a
water, dirt, and grime may damage or destroy a functioning
stylus over the recessed area creates a tactile input to the
PDA and inhibit the use of the PDAs valuable data.
touch screen.
It is common to hold the PDAs inside a protective case for 45
The present invention may further comprise a protective
transport. However, in the case of a firefighter using the PDA
cover that protects a touch screen on an electronic device
on a fire scene, opening a case with gloved hands in the
and allows sliding tactile input to the touch screen comprismidst of fighting a fire exposes the PDA to easily being
ing: a protective enclosure that attaches to said electronic
dropped, getting wet, or otherwise being damaged.
device; a protective membrane that is attached to the proThe user interface for PDAs are typically a few buttons 50 tective enclosure comprising: a recessed area disposed over
and a touch screen display. The touch screen is used to both
the touch screen, the recessed area being at least partially
display information and to capture information. The data
transparent; the recessed area having a surface finish with a
capture generally uses a stylus to select buttons or areas on
predetermined smoothness; the recessed area having a prethe screen for certain functions, draw shapes onto the screen,
determined thickness; the recessed area having a predeteruse character recognition to enter text or numbers, or other 55 mined stiffness; the predetermined smoothness, said predemethods of data capture.
termined thickness, and said predetermined stiffness being
The PDA may be connected to another computer by
selected such that simultaneous pressing and sliding of a
several mechanisms. The PDA may be direct connected
stylus over the recessed area is sufficient to create a tactile
using a wire connection, wherein a cable with a connector
input to the touch screen.
physically connects to the PDA. A second method is to use 60
The advantages of the present invention are that PDAs
an infrared communication protocol that uses an infrared
and other electronic devices having touch screens may be
transmitter and receiver mounted in the PDA to communiused in the most severe operating environments without
cate with another computer having a similar transceiver. A
damage. Further, various functions of the electronic devices
third method is to communicate via radio signals such as a
may be available to the user, including portability, direct
65
cellular phone protocol or wireless modem.
electrical connection, infrared transmit and receive, radio
It would therefore be advantageous to provide a case for
transmit and receive, direct operation of every button, and
a PDA wherein the PDA may be fully operated when the
full viewing and manipulation of the touch screen interface.
US 7,230,823 B2
3
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
4
These may comprise kiosks, outdoor terminal interfaces,
industrial computer interfaces, commercial computer interIn the drawings,
faces, and other computer displays. Additionally, the term
FIG. 1 is a perspective View of an embodiment of the
PDA may comprise barcode scanners, hand held GPS
receivers, and other handheld electronic devices. The foreinvention shown in the closed position.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
going description of the term PDA has been presented for
invention shown in the open position.
purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms
invention shown in an exploded state.
disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be
10
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
possible in light of the teachings of this specification.
invention shown from the rear.
In addition, the PDAs typically have a handful of addiFIG. 5 is a front view of a11 embodiment of the invention,
tional buttons as part of the user interface. These buttons are
showing a section line.
generally on the front of the device, near the touch screen
FIG. 6 is a section view of an embodiment of the
element. The additional buttons may be used as shortcut
15
invention.
buttons to instantly call up a certain program on the PDA,
FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a section shown in FIG. 6.
may comprise a method of scrolling, may be used to select
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment
items from a list, or may have any function that the designer
comprising a single piece encapsulating cover.
of the PDA software may assign to the button or set of
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a third embodiment
buttons. The button size, layout, and function may vary for
20 each manufacturer and model of PDA.
comprising a non-encapsulating snap over cover.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an embodiment that
Further, PDAs typically have at least one method of
comprises a belt clip.
connecting to another computer. This may be through a
FIG. 11 is a second perspective view of an embodiment
direct electrical connection, such as through a wire cable or
that comprises a belt clip.
fiber optic, or through another medium such as infrared
25
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of
communication or through a radio communication.
the present invention of a protective cover for a PDA or
Additionally, the PDAs typically have an electrical
other device.
source. The electrical source may be a rechargeable or
non-rechargeable battery or solar cells. The electrical source
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
may be a remote source of electricity that is transmitted to
30
INVENTION
the PDA through a wire cable or through other methods of
electrical transmission.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
Further, PDAs may have indicator lights, such as status
invention. Embodiment 100 comprises a rigidly molded
lights for power, communication, battery status, or other
front case 102 and rear case 104. An overmolded grommet
functions. The lights may be located on any of the sides of
35
106 forms a receptacle for stylus 108 and also aids in sealing
the PDA and may be viewable on one or more sides.
membrane 110. A flexible hand strap 112 attaches to the rear
Front case 102 and rear case 104 form a protective cover
case 104. Ahinge 114joins front case 102 and rear case 104.
for the PDA. The protective cover may be designed for
A ring 124 for a lanyard is shown as an integral feature of
rugged industrial use, recreational use, commercial use, or
rear case 104.
many other uses. An industrial use may require the protec40
Embodiment 100 is designed to hold a conventional
tive cover to be watertight, chemically resistant, protect the
personal digital assistant (PDA) in a protective case. A PDA,
unit when dropped, and be crush proof. A typical application
such as a Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, Compaq Ipaq,
may be for fire fighters to use a PDA for a display of maps
Hewlett Packard Jornada, or similar products use a touch
for directions to an emergency scene or for a building plan
screen for display and data entry. The touch screen display
at the scene of a fire. Another example may be a maintenance
45
comprises either a color or black and white liquid crystal
mechanic in a chemical plant using a PDA to record maindisplay with a touch sensitive device mounted on top of the
tenance records in the plant that processes. A recreational
display. The display is used for displaying graphics, text, and
use may require the cover to be watertight, afford some
other elements to the user. The touch screen is used with a
protection against dropping and being crushed, float in
stylus 108 to select elements from the screen, to draw
water, and be dust resistant. A recreational use may be to
50
figures, and to enter text with a character recognition protake the PDA during kayaking, diving, or other water sport
gram in the PDA. The stylus 108 generally resembles a
activity. Further, the case may be used when the PDA is
conventional writing implement however, the tip of the
taken camping, hiking, or other outdoor activity. A commerwriting implement is a rounded plastic tip. In place of a
cial use may additionally require the protective cover to be
stylus 108, the user may use the tip of a finger or fingernail,
elegant, but may also require the cover to be replaceable so
55
or a conventional pen or pencil. When a conventional
that scratches and other signs of wear and tear can be easily
writing implement is used, damage to the touch screen
and cheaply replaced.
element may occur, such as scratches.
The protective cover for the PDA may take on many
For the purposes of this specification, the term PDA shall
embodiments. The embodiment 100 comprises a front case
include any electronic device that has a touch screen inter102 and rear case 104 that are joined by a hinge 114 and a
60
face. This may include instruments such as voltmeters,
clasp mechanism that is on the side of the cases opposite the
oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and any other hand held,
hinge 114. Other embodiments may have a small door into
bench top, or rack mounted instrument that has a touch
which the PDA slides, or the protective cover may not
screen interface. Hand held devices, such as cell phones,
completely enclose the PDA and only cover the face where
satellite phones, telemetric devices, and other hand held
the user interface exists, leaving one or more sides of the
65
devices are also to be classified as PDAs for the purposes of
PDA exposed. Those skilled in the art may use other designs
this specification. The term PDA shall also include any
of protective covers without deviating from the scope and
computer terminal display that has a touch screen interface.
intent of the present invention.
US 7,230,823 B2
5
6
The protective cover may be constructed of rigid plastic,
metal, flexible rubber, or any other type of material that
could be adapted to afford the protection of the PDA desired
for the application. For example, a metal cover may be used
in an application where an elegant style is necessary but
watertightness is not. A flexible rubber cover may be
selected for an application in a wet environment. A rigid
plastic cover may be selected for an application where
dropping the PDA is a concem. Those skilled in the art may
use other types of materials and constructions without
deviating from the spirit of the present invention.
The PDA may be mounted in the protective cover using
many different mounting techniques. For example, the PDA
may be mounted using open or closed cell foam inserts in the
protective cover. In another embodiment, the PDA may be
mounted by attaching the PDA to the cover with a fastener.
In another embodiment, the PDA may be mounted by
snapping into the protective waterproof cover. In another
embodiment, the PDA may be held in place by resting in
molded features of two halves of a protective case that
clamps onto the PDA. Those skilled in the art may use other
types of locating and holding mechanisms without deviating
from the spirit of the present invention.
The overmolded grommet 106 of the present embodiment
is constructed by injection molding a thermoplastic polymerized rubber (TPR) over the front case 102. The grommet
106 has molded features 116 and 118 adapted to retain the
stylus 108. Features 116 and 118 capture the stylus 108
during transportation, but allow the user to remove the stylus
108 to operate the PDA. In other embodiments of the present
invention, the stylus 108 may be constrained to the PDA
with a tether or lanyard, or the constraining features may be
incorporated into other components that make up the protective cover. Further, the stylus 108 may not be present in
the embodiment, rather that the PDA be adapted to be used
with the user’s fingernail or with another implement similar
to the stylus 108.
The membrane 110 of the present embodiment is constructed by thermoforrning a sheet of thin plastic. The plastic
is selected to be thin enough that the deformation of a stylus
conducts the touch to the touch screen, but thick enough to
have enough rigidity that the stylus does not catch and rip
the membrane. Additionally, the membrane 110 should have
enough thickness to endure scratches and other wear and
tear without breaking and sacrificing the protective function.
Polyvinylchoride material at 0.010 in to 0.015 in thickness
gives acceptable results. Alternatively, membrane 110 may
be constructed by injection molding or other methods.
Altemative materials may be used by those skilled in the art
to achieve the same results while maintaining within the
spirit and intent of the present invention.
The membrane 110 in the present embodiment may be
translucent or at least partially transparent, so that the
images displayed on the PDA may be visible through the
membrane 110. The membrane 110 may be tinted or colorized in some applications. For example, a protective cover
designed as a decorative cover may incorporate a colorized
membrane 110. Further, the membrane may be selectively
colorized and the opaqueness may vary. For example, the
protective membrane may be printed or painted in the areas
not used for the touch screen. A printing process may
incorporate a logo, graphics, or labeling for individual
buttons for the PDA. The printing process may further
incorporate features, such as text or graphics, that are used
by the software on the PDA for a purpose such as simplifying data input or for designating an area on the touch
screen for a specific function, such as a help function. The
printing or painting processes used on the membrane 110
may be purely decorative and may be for aesthetic purposes
only. The printing process may also comprise logos or
graphics for the brand identity of the PDA cover. Other
processes, such as colorizing the raw material for the membrane 110 or adding other components to the raw material,
such as metal flakes or other additives, may be used to
change the optical features of the membrane 110.
The optical performance of the membrane 110 may be
changed or enhanced by changing the texture of the area of
the touch screen. For example, the membrane may be frosted
on the outside to hide scratches or may be imprinted with a
lens or other features that change the optical characteristics
of the membrane 110. The membrane 110 may have optical
features that are used in conjunction with the software of the
PDA. For example, all or a portion of the membrane may
comprise a lens that magnifies an image to a user. When the
user touches the image on the membrane 110 and the touch
is transferred to the touch screen, the software in the PDA
may have to compensate for the positional differences
between the image and actual area that was touched by the
user. In another example, if a specific portion of the membrane 110 had a specific optical characteristic, the software
of the PDA may be constructed to display a specific graphic
for the area for an intended effect.
10
15
20
25
The membrane 110 in the present embodiment has a
recessed portion 120 and a raised portion 122. The recessed
portion 120 may be adapted to press flat against the touch
screen area of a specific PDA. The raised portion 122 may
30
be adapted to fit over an area of the specific PDA where
several buttons are located.
The raised portion 122 allows the user to operate the
buttons on the PDA. The raised portion 122 is adapted such
that the buttons on the PDA are easily operated through the
35
protective membrane 110. The raised portion 122 may have
special features to aid the user in pressing the buttons. For
example, the raised portion 122 may comprise a dimpled
area for the user’s finger located directly over the button.
Further, a feature to aid the user may comprise a section of
40
membrane 110 defined by a thinner area around the section,
enabling the user to more easily deflect the section of
membrane over the button. The area of thinner material may
comprise a large section or a thin line. Further, tactile
elements, such as small ribs or bumps may be incorporated
45 into the membrane 110 in the area of the buttons so that the
user has a tactile sensation that the user’s finger is over the
button. The tactile element may be particularly effective if
the button was a power switch, for example, that tumed on
the PDA.
50
The configuration of the membrane 110 may be unique to
each style or model of PDA, however, the front case 102 and
rear case 104 may be used over a variety of PDAs. In the
present embodiment, the changeover from one PDA variety
to another is accomplished by replacing the membrane 110
55
without having to change any other parts. The present
embodiment may therefore be mass-produced with the only
customizable area being the membrane 110 to allow different models of PDAs to be used with a certain front case 102
and rear case 104.
60
The hand strap 112 in the present embodiment allows the
user to hold the embodiment 100 securely in his hand while
using the PDA. The hand strap 112 may be constructed of a
flexible material, such as rubber or cloth webbing, and may
have an adjustment, such as a buckle, hook and loop
65
fastener, or other method of adjustment. In other embodiments, a hand strap may be a rigid plastic handle, a folding
handle, or any other method of assisting the user in holding
US 7,230,823 B2
7
8
the embodiment. Further, the embodiment may be adapted to
tively, a fixed connector may be attached to the protective
cover and the PDA is slid into contact with the fixed
be fix-mounted to another object, like a piece of machinery,
a wall, or any other object. A fix-mounted embodiment may
connector. Another embodiment may be for a compliant, yet
have other accoutrements adapted for a fixed mount applifixed mounted electrical connector to be rigidly mounted
cations, such as receptacles for a stylus adapted to a fixinside the protective cover. A compliant, yet fixed mounted
mount, specialized electrical connections, features for lockelectrical connector may comprise spring loaded probes,
ing the PDA inside the case to prevent theft, or designs
commonly referred to as pogo pins. Another embodiment
specifically adapted to shed water when rained upon.
may comprise spring fingers that engage the PDAs electrical
FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective View of the embodiment
contacts. On the outside of the protective cover, the electri10
100 shown in an open position. The front case 102 and rear
cal contacts may be terminated into a fix-mounted connector
case 104 are shown open about the hinge 114. Membrane
adapted to receive a cable from a computer. The connector
110 is shown installed into gasket 106, and the recessed
may be designed to receive a cable that plugs directly into
portion 120 and raised portion 122 of membrane 110 is
the PDA or it may be adapted to receive a different connecillustrated looking from the inside of the case. The clasp
tor. Further, the electrical connection to the PDA may be
15
mechanisms are not shown in this illustration. Hand strap
permanently attached to a cable that extends out of the
112 is shown attached to rear case 104.
protective cover. Another embodiment may be to have a
FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
small trap door that opens in the protective cover to allow
100 shown in an exploded state. The hand strap 116 attaches
access to the electrical connections. While the trap door
to the rear cover 104. The overmolded grommet 106 holds
exposes the PDA to the elements the cover is designed to
20
the stylus 108 and is attached to front cover 102. The
protect against, a direct electrical connection may eliminate
membrane 110 attaches to the grommet 106 and is held in
a potential cabling connection problem. Connections for
place with an o-ring 302.
fiber optics can be handled in similar fashions as the
FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
electrical connections. An embodiment with a power con100 shown from the rear. The hand strap 116 is shown, along
nection may comprise the use of inductive coils located in
25
with rear cover 104 and front cover 102. The stylus 108 is
proximity to each other but on opposite sides of the protecshown inserted into the ovennolded grommet 106.
tive cover. Those skilled in the art of may devise other
FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of the embodiment 100. The
embodiments for connecting through the protective cover
front cover 102, membrane 110, stylus 108, and hinge 114
without deviating from the scope and intent of the present
are all visible.
invention.
FIG. 6 illustrates a section view of the embodiment 100 30
Through the air communications, such as infrared and
taken through the section line shown in FIG. 5. The front
over the air radio frequency (RF) communications may pass
cover 102, rear cover 104, overmolded gasket 106, stylus
through the protective cover. The material for the front case
108, membrane 110, hand strap 112, and o-ring 302 are all
102 and rear case 104 may be selected to be clear plastic,
shown hatched in this view.
such as polycarbonate. The infrared transceiver of the PDA
35
FIG. 7 illustrates a detail view of the embodiment 100
can communicate through a clear plastic case to another
shown in FIG. 6. Front case 102 and rear case 104 arejoined
infrared transceiver outside of the case. Further, the approat hinge 114. Overmolded gasket 106 traps membrane 110
priate selection of material for the protective case can
and o-ring 302 locks membrane 110 in place. Overmolded
thereby enable various RF transmissions, such as cellular
gasket 106 may be formed by molding thermoplastic polyphone communications or other wireless communication
40
merized rubber over the front cover 102.
protocols.
The replacement of the membrane 110 is accomplished by
An infrared transmission through the protective case of an
removing o-ring 302, pushing the membrane 110 from the
embodiment of the invention may be accomplished by
overmolded gasket 106, snapping a new membrane 110 into
making the entire protective case out of a clear material.
place, and replacing the o-ring 302. The ease of replacement
Alternatively, a selected area of the protective case may be
45
of the present embodiment allows a user to quickly replace
clear while the remainder of the case is opaque. The selected
a damaged membrane 110, allows a user to upgrade their
area may be constructed of a separate piece that allows the
case to a newer model PDA, and may allow a user to select
infrared light through the protective case. Alternatively, the
from various membranes 110 for the particular application.
selected area may be constructed of a portion of the protecOne embodiment may have a single case packaged with a
tive case that manufactured in a way so as not to be opaque,
50
small variety of several types of membranes 110. In such an
such as selectively not painting or plating the area of a
embodiment, the user may purchase the packaged set, select
plastic protective case. Further, the clear material through
the membrane 110 that suits the user’s particular PDA, and
which the transmission occurs may be tinted in the visual
install the selected membrane 110 with ease.
spectrum but be translucent or at least partially transparent
The protective cover of the present invention may have
in the infrared spectrum of the device.
55
direct connections through the cover for connecting through
A protective case may allow RF transmissions to and from
the case. Such a connection is known as pass through. The
the PDA while the case is closed. Such a case may be
constructed of a non-metallic material. In some embodiconnections may be for power, communication, heat dissipation,
reasons.optical transmissions, mechanical motion, or other
ments, the material of the protective case may be tuned to
allow certain frequencies to pass through the protective
60
Electrical connections may require an insulated metal
cover and tune out other frequencies, through loading the
conductor from the PDA through the wall of the protective
material used in the protective cover with conductive media
cover so that a flexible cable may be attached or so that the
or through varying the thickness of the case and other
PDA in its protective case may be placed in a cradle for
geometries of the case in the area of the PDA transmission
making the electrical connection. Inside the protective
and reception antenna.
65
cover, the electrical connections may be made with a flexible
In a different embodiment, it may be desirable to shield
the PDA from outside RF interference. In this case, the
cable that is plugged into the PDAs electrical connector
before the PDA is secured in the protective cover. Alternaprotective cover may be a metallic construction or may be
US 7,230,823 B2
9
plastic with a metallized coating. Further, membrane 110
may have a light metallized coating applied so that membrane 110 is slightly or fully conductive. An application for
such an embodiment may be the use of the PDA in an area
of high RF noise that may interfere with the operation of the
PDA, or conversely, the use may be in an area that is highly
susceptible to extemal RF interference and the PDAs RF
noise may be interfering with some other device.
The PDA may be equipped with a camera or other video
capture device. A protective cover may have provisions to
allow a clear image to be seen by the video capture device
through the case. Such provisions may include an optically
clear insert assembled into the protective case. Other
embodiments may have a sliding trap door whereby the user
of the PDA may slide the door open for the camera to see.
Additionally, other embodiments may comprise a molded
case that has an optically clear lens integrally molded. Such
an embodiment may be additionally painted, plated, or
overmolded, with the lens area masked so that the painting,
plating, or overrnolding does not interfere with the optics of
the lens.
An optically clear area may be used for a barcode scanner
portion of a PDA to scan through the case to the outside
world. In such an embodiment, a barcode scarmer may be
protected from the elements while still maintaining full
functionality in the outside world.
The PDA may have indicator lights that indicate various
items, such as power, battery condition, communication, and
other status items. The indicator lights may be in positions
on the PDA that are not readily viewable through the
protective membrane 110. The indicator lights may be made
visible through the protective case by using light pipes that
transmit the light from the PDAs status light to the outside
of the protective case. Such light pipes may be constructed
of clear or tinted plastic, or other translucent or semitransparent material. The light pipes may be formed as an
integral feature to the protective case or may be separate
parts that are formed separately and assembled to the
protective case.
The PDA may have a speaker or other element that makes
noise and/or the PDA may have a microphone for receiving
audio signals. The speaker may be an audio quality device
for reproducing sound or it may be a simple buzzer for
indicating various functions of the PDA. The microphone
may be an audio quality device or it may be a low performance device. Special provisions may be made for transmitting sound through a protective case. Such provisions
may range from a single hole in the case to a tuned cavity
that would allow sound to pass through with minimum
distortion. Other embodiments may include a transmissive
membrane adapted to allow sound to pass through the
protective case with a minimum of distortion. Such membranes may be located near the speaker and microphone
elements of the PDA. Such membranes may be watertight
membranes known by the brand name Gore-Tex.
The PDA may generate heat during its use and provisions
for dissipating the heat may be built into the protective
cover. A heat-dissipating device may be integral to the
protective cover or may comprise one or more separate
parts. For example, a metallic protective cover may be
adapted to touch the PDA in the area of heat generation and
conduct the heat outwardly to the rest of the protective
cover. The protective cover may thereby dissipate the heat to
the external air without overheating the PDA. In another
example, a separate heat sink may be applied to the PDA and
allowed to protrude through a hole in the protective cover.
The heat sink may thereby transfer the heat from the PDA to
10
the ambient environment without overheating the PDA. The
heat sinks may be attached to the PDA with a thermally
conductive adhesive. Other embodiments may include vent
holes for heat dissipation and air circulation.
5
The PDA may have a button that may not be located
undemeath the membrane 110. An embodiment may include
a flexible, pliable, or otherwise movable mechanism that
may transmit mechanical motion from the outside of the
10 case to a button on the PDA. Such an embodiment may have
a molded dimpled surface that is pliable and allows a user to
activate a button on a PDA by pressing the dimpled surface.
Another embodiment may have a rigid plunger that is
mounted on a spring and adapted to transmit the mechanical
movement from the exterior of the case to a button on the
15
PDA. The buttons on the PDA may be located on any side
of the PDA and an embodiment of a case may have pliable
areas adapted to allow the user to press buttons that are not
on the front face of the PDA.
20
FIG. 8 is an illustration of embodiment 800 of the present
invention wherein the PDA 802 is encapsulated by a protective cover 804. The installation of the PDA 802 is to slide
PDA 802 into the opening 808, then fold door 806 closed
and secure with flap 810, which is hinged along line 812.
25 Areas 814 and 816 may comprise a hook and loop fastener
system or other fastening device. Recessed area 818 is
adapted to fit against touch screen 820 of PDA 802.
Embodiment 800 may be comprised of a single molded
plastic part that may be very low cost. As shown, embodi30 ment 800 may not be completely weathertight, since the
door 806 does not completely seal the enclosure. However,
such an embodiment may afford considerable protection to
the PDA 802 in the areas of dust protection, scratch protection, and being occasionally rained upon. Further, the low
35 cost of the embodiment 800 may be changed often during
the life of the PDA 802.
Embodiment 800 may have custom colors, logos, or
designs that allow a user to personalize their PDA with a
specific cover that is suited to their mood or tastes. The
40 colors, logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the
cover 804. Altematively, different colors, logos, and designs
may be applied in a secondary operation such as printing,
painting, plating, or other application process.
FIG. 9 is an illustration of embodiment 900 of the present
45 invention wherein a decorative cover 902 is snapped over a
PDA 904. The ends 906 and 908 snap over the PDA ends
910 and 912 as an attachment mechanism for cover 902 to
PDA 904. Recessed area 914 is adapted to fit against touch
screen 916.
50
Embodiment 900 may be a cover for decorative purposes
only, or may be for protective purposes as well. Cover 902
may be emblazoned with logos, designs, or other visual
embellishments to personalize the PDA 904. The colors,
logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the cover
55 904. Altematively, different colors, logos, and designs may
be applied in a secondary operation such as printing, painting, plating, or other application process.
Embodiment 900 may be attached by snapping the cover
902 onto PDA 904. Special provisions in the case of PDA
60 904 may be provided for a snapping feature of cover 902, or
cover 902 may be adapted to hold onto PDA 904 without the
use of special features in PDA 904.
The features used to secure cover 902 to PDA 904 may be
any mechanism whereby the cover 902 can be secured. This
65
includes snapping, clamping, fastening, sliding, gluing,
adhering, or any other method for securing two components
together.
US 7,230,823 B2
11
FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective View of an embodiment
of a receiver 1002 for holding the protective case 100. The
protective case 100 is held into receiver 1002 in such a
manner that the touch screen display is facing into the
receiver 1002, to afford the touch screen display with
protection.
FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
of a receiver 1002 shown from the opposite side as FIG. 10.
Receiver 1002 is comprised of a back 1102, a belt clip
mechanism 1104, and four clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and
1112. The protective case 100 is placed into the receiver
1002 by inserting one end into the receiver, then rotating the
protective case 100 into position such that the snapping
action of clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 are engaged
to hold protective case 100 securely.
Receiver 1002 may be adapted to clip onto a person’s belt
or may be adapted to be mounted on a wall or other location
where the PDA may be stored. The orientation of the
protective case 100 is such that the touch screen element of
the PDA is protected during normal transport and storage,
since the touch screen interface is facing the back 1102 of
the receiver 1002.
Receiver 1002 may be made of compliant plastic that
allows the clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 to move out
of the way and spring back during insertion or removal of
the protective case 100. In the present embodiment, receiver
1002 may be constructed of a single part. In alternative
embodiments, receiver 1002 may be constructed of multiple
parts and of multiple materials, such as a metal back with
spring loaded clips. In other embodiments, special features
may be included in the protective case 100 where the
receiver 1002 may engage a special feature for securing the
protective case 100.
FIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment 1200 of the present
invention of a protective cover for a PDA or other device. A
rigid front cover 1202 and a rigid rear cover 1204 are held
together with a series of latches 1206, 1208, 1210, and 1212.
The protective membrane 1214 protects the touchscreen of
the enclosed PDA. A folding rigid cover 1216 operates as a
rigid shield to prevent the membrane 1214 from any damage. The stylus holder 1220 is formed from an overmolded
flexible material in which the membrane 1214 is mounted.
12
5
sure, said shell being adapted to insert and remove said
touch screen device by hand, said shell being made of
a rigid plastic that is substantially devoid of soft PVC,
thermoplastic elastomers, and thermoplastic polyurethanes, so that said shell is substantially crush-resistant,
said shell having an elevated protective rim substantially surrounding a perimeter of said LCD touch screen
of said touch screen device so that when said touch
10
screen device is disposed in said enclosure, said LCD
touch screen of said touch screen device is recessed
15
20
25
30
posed in said enclosure, said flexible protective membrane having a back side that has a substantially planar
smooth surface that is adjacent to said LCD touch
screen of said touch screen device when said touch
screen device is disposed in said enclosure so that
tactile inputs on a front side of said flexible protective
membrane are communicated to said LCD touch screen
35
40
Embodiment 1200 illustrates yet another embodiment of
the present invention wherein a rigid protective cover may
45
be used to contain and protect an electronic device, but
provide full usable access to a touchscreen. The protective
membrane 1214 and case may be watertight in some
embodiments.
The foregoing description of the invention has been
50
presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is
not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the
precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be possible in light of the above teachings. The
embodiment was chosen and described in order to best
explain the principles of the invention and its practical
application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best
utilize the invention in various embodiments and various
with respect to said protective rim of said shell so that
said elevated protective rim protects said LCD touch
screen from deflection and breakage by contact with an
object that is larger than said perimeter of said protective rim;
a compressible gasket that is disposed in a perimeter
portion of said shell;
a clamp connected to said shell that clamps said shell in
a closed position so as to compress said gasket when
said shell is clamped closed providing an enclosure that
is submersibly watertight; and
a flexible protective membrane that is integrally fixed on
said shell so that said flexible protective membrane is
disposed over said LCD touch screen of said touch
screen device when said touch screen device is dis-
55
through said flexible protective membrane, said flexible
protective membrane being at least partially transparent
such that said LCD touch screen is visible through said
flexible protective membrane so that said LCD touch
screen is capable of displaying and capturing information through said flexible protective membrane.
2. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said shell
is formed from polycarbonate having suflicient thickness to
make said shell substantially crush-resistant.
3. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said shell
is made of a rigid plastic that has a flexural modulus of at
least 310 kilopounds per square inch so that said shell is
substantially crush-resistant.
4. The protective enclosure of claim 1 wherein said
flexible protective membrane is sufliciently thin to transmit
smooth strokes from a stylus to said touch screen without
interruption of said strokes, said flexible protective membrane being sufliciently smooth and sufliciently firm to
prevent said stylus from catching on said membrane.
5. The protective enclosure of claim 4 wherein said shell
of said protective enclosure further comprises grip-enhancing structures that enable said protective enclosure to be
securely held by hand in slippery conditions.
6. The protective enclosure of claim 4 further comprising
at least one recessed area in said front side of said flexible
modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed
protective membrane, said recessed area disposed to align
to include other altemative embodiments of the invention 60 with at least one predetermined region of said touch screen
of said touch screen device when said touch screen device is
except insofar as limited by the prior art.
What is claimed is:
disposed in said enclosure, said recessed area having a
1. A protective enclosure for a touch screen device having
perimeter edge that provides tactile feedback, said recessed
a LCD touch screen comprising:
area being sufliciently thin so that said tactile inputs are
65
a shell that is capable of enclosing and substantially
transmitted through said flexible protective membrane to
said touch screen of said touch screen device when said
surrounding said touch screen device, said touch screen
device being a separate unit from said protective enclotouch screen device is disposed in said enclosure.
US 7,230,823 B2
13
14
7. The protective enclosure of claim 6 further comprising
that corresponds to distinct functional areas of said touch
screen device.
textured areas on said front side of said flexible protective
membrane, said textured areas providing tactile feedback,
9. The protective enclosure of claim 8 further comprising
said textured areas customized through the incorporation of
colored areas on said flexible protective membrane, said
distinct textures that overlay and correspond to distinct 5 colored areas providing visual feedback, said colored areas
functional areas of said touch screen device.
customized through the incorporation of distinct colors that
8. The protective enclosure of claim 7 further comprising
correspond to distinct functional areas of said touch screen
device.
printed areas on said flexible protective membrane, said
printed areas providing visual feedback, said printed areas
customized through the incorporation of distinct printing
US007255228B2
(12) United States Patent
Kim
CELLULAR PHONE CASING WITH
MELTED LIQUID FLOW DISCONNECTION
HOLE ALONG HINGE LINE
(75)
Inventor:
(73)
Assignee: Hana Cobi Co., Ltd., Seoul (KR)
(*)
Notice:
(21)
Appl. No.: 10/992,337
(22)
Filed:
Chang-Ho Kim, Incheon (KR)
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 188 days.
Prior Publication Data
US 2006/0021889 A1
(52)
(58)
Feb. 2, 2006
Foreign Application Priority Data
Jul. 29, 2004
(KR)
............... .. 20-2004-0021605 U
Int. Cl.
B65D 85/00
(2006.01)
B65D 45/16
(2006.01)
B65D 51/04
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl. .................... .. 206/320; 206/305; 220/315;
220/324; 220/840
Field of Classification Search .............. .. 206/305,
206/320; 220/315, 324, 326, 833—840, 842;
224/424—435; 361/679, 683, 68(L682
See application file for complete search history.
(56)
References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
2,687,157 A *
2,732,581 A *
3,023,923
5,383,091
5,752,615
5,938,063
6,092,707
6,129,237
6,315,142
6,415,947
6,456,487
6,837,407
D517,311
2005/0006390
Aug. 14, 2007
A * 3/1962 Geib et al. ................ .. 220/840
A * 1/1995 Snell ........................ .. 361/679
A * 5/1998 Hofmann et al. ......... .. 220/324
A * 8/1999 Hoftman ................... .. 220/840
A * 7/2000 Bowes, Jr. Z■
^■ 224/435
A * 10/2000 Miyahara .................. .. 220/315
B1* 11/2001 Kitamura et al. ......... .. 220/324
B1* 7/2002 Kim ......................... .. 220/326
B1* 9/2002 Hetterick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 361/683
B1* 1/2005 Towers et al.
x■ 224/435
S * 3/2006 Kim ............... ..
]■ D3/218
A1* 1/2005 Wang ....................... .. 220/326
* cited by examiner
Nov. 19, 2004
(65)
(51)
US 7,255,228 B2
(45) Date of Patent:
(54)
(30)
(10) Patent No.:
8/1954 Cowan ..................... .. 220/315
1/1956 Hech ........................ .. 220/840
Primary Examiner—Bryon P. Gehman
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Birch, Stewart, Kolasch &
Birch, LLP
(57)
ABSTRACT
The present invention relates to an improved cellular phone
casing capable of storing a cellular phone (a mobile phone)
from an external impact when a cellular phone is stored in
a bag and is carried and capable of preventing a cellular
phone from moisture in rain or at a beach. The cellular phone
storing casing comprises a casing body that has an inner
storing space having a certain size and depth for storing a
common cellular phone wherein an upper side of the same
is opened for an easier storing and unloading of a cellular
phone; a cover body that is fabricated in separation with the
casing body and stores or unloads in a state that a cellular
phone is sealed in the inner storing space of the casing body
wherein the cover body is opened and closed with respect to
the casing body; a hinge connection part that is designed so
that the cover body is rotatable with respect to one surface
of the casing body; and a locking part sealingly engages or
opens the cover body with respect to the casing body.
9 Claims, 6 Drawing Sheets
U.S. Patent
Fig.1
Aug. 14, 2007
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US 7,255,228 B2
U.S. Patent
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US 7,255,228 B2
U.S. Patent
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US 7,255,228 B2
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US 7,255,228 B2
U.S. Patent
Fig.8
Fig.9
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U.S. Patent
Fig.1O
Aug. 14, 2007
Sheet 6 of 6
US 7,255,228 B2
US 7,255,228 B2
1
2
CELLULAR PHONE CASING WITH
emergency occurs during the swimming, it is impossible to
MELTED LIQUID FLOW DISCONNECTION
use the cellular phone. Therefore, in the conventional art, it
HOLE ALONG HINGE LINE
is impossible to efficiently cope with the emergency situation.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In order to overcome the above problems, a certain
cellular phone storing casing has been provided wherein it
1. Field of the Invention
can be used at beach.
The present invention relates to a cellular phone casing,
However, since the conventional cellular phone storing
and in particular to an improved cellular phone casing
casing is made of a vinyl bag that does not have strength, and
10
capable of storing a cellular phone (a mobile phone) from an
an input portion of the vinyl bag is designed in a structure
external impact when a cellular phone is stored in a bag and
that it is opened and closed by a synthetic resin zipper.
is carried and capable of preventing a cellular phone from
Therefore, in the case of the cellular phone storing casing
moisture in rain or at a beach.
formed of a vinyl bag, it is possible to slightly prevent the
2. Description of the Background Art
penetration of water, however the vinyl bag carmot protect
15
Generally, the size of a cellular phone is getting smaller
the cellular phone from an external impact. In addition, the
and smaller for an easier carry. In addition, the weight of the
opening operation of the synthetic resin zipper is easier,
same has been gradually decreased. For this reason, the
however the closing operation of the opened zipper is not
casing of the cellular phone is generally made of a light
easy for thereby causing many inconveniences. In the case
that the user swims in a state that the closed state of the
plastic material. In this case, a LCD formed on a cover of a
20
cellular phone is weak with respect to an extemal impact.
synthetic resin zipper is not checked, water may penetrate
In addition, in a carrying method of a cellular phone, in
into the interior of the cellular phone storing casing, so that
the case of many people, since the size of a cellular phone
a critical problem may occur in the cellular phone due to the
is small, and it is easy to carry in hand, the cellular phone is
penetrated water.
carried in hands or a certain strap connected with a connec25
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
tion ring of a cellular phone body is hung on a user’s neck.
In another method, the cellular phone is generally stored in
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to
a bag or a handbag.
provide a cellular phone storing casing capable of overcomIn addition, in the above cellular phone carrying method,
ing the problems encountered in the conventional art.
in the case that the cellular phone is carried in hands, when
30
It is another object of the present invention to provide a
a certain call comes in, a user can quickly pick up the
cellular phone storing casing capable of protecting a cellular
cellular phone and can calls. However, in this case, there are
phone from a contact, friction or extemal impact.
many inconveniences to do another work with the remaining
It is further another object of the present invention to
hand. Sometimes, the cellular phone may be dropped from
provide a cellular phone storing casing capable of protecting
hands, so that a big damage is given to the cellular phone.
35
a cellular phone from moisture or water during rain or at
As one example, in some cases, in a state that a user holds
beach.
a cellular phone in his hand, when the user needs to use
It is still further another object of the present invention to
hands, the user may forget the state that he holds a cellular
provide a cellular phone storing casing capable of easily
phone in his hands and then may drop the cellular phone for
carrying a cellular phone in such a marmer that a carrying
thereby damaging the cellular phone. When the cellular
40
assistant strap is connected with a casing that stores a
phone is dropped from the hands, the casing of the cellular
cellular phone.
phone may be seriously damaged by an external impact, and
In order to achieve the above objects, there is provided a
the LCD may be broken.
cellular phone storing casing, comprising a casing body that
In addition, in the case that the neck strap is connected
has an inner storing space having a certain size and depth for
with the cellular phone and is hung on the user’s neck, the
45
storing a common cellular phone wherein an upper side of
cellular phone is not fixed, so that it may be swung. Namely,
the same is opened for an easier storing and unloading of a
as the user walks, the cellular phone hung on the user’s neck
cellular phone; a cover body that is fabricated in separation
may be swung. When the user bends his upper body, the
with the casing body and stores or unloads in a state that a
cellular phone hung on the user’s neck may be downwardly
cellular phone is sealed in the inner storing space of the
extended and may hit the ground or the floor, so that the
50
casing body wherein the cover body is opened and closed
casing of the cellular phone may be damaged or the LCD
with respect to the casing body; a hinge connection part that
may be broken.
is designed so that the cover body is rotatable with respect
When the cellular phone is stored in the handbag or the
to one surface of the casing body; and a locking part that
bag and is carried, the cellular phone may collide with other
sealingly engages or opens the cover body with respect to
items stored in the handbag or bag, so that the casing of the
55
the casing body.
cellular phone may be scratched or the LCD may be
The locking part includes a locking protrusion that is
scratched. A certain metallic item may contact with the
protruded from one surface of the casing body at a portion
terminals of the battery, so that fire may occur.
opposite to the hinge connection part; a locking wing that is
In particular, when moisture penetrates into the electronic
integrally connected with the cover body and is folded and
circuit, the cellular phone may become dead. Therefore, the
60
unfolded by the hinge line; and a locking hole that is formed
users of the cellular phone should be careful about that water
at the locking wing wherein the locking protrusion is
penetrates into the cellular phone. When it rains, the cellular
inserted and engaged therein.
phone cannot be held in hands. Namely, it should be stored
in a safer place for thereby causing many inconveniences.
The locking part includes a locking rim that is protruded
As described above, since the cellular phone is weak with
from one surface of the casing body at a portion opposite to
65
respect to moisture and water, it is impossible to carry the
the hinge connection part in a straight line shape; a locking
cellular phone at beach. Therefore, the cellular phone cannot
wing that is connected at the cover body opposite to the
be carried during the swimming. In the case that a certain
locking rim and is folded and unfolded by the hinge line; and
US 7,255,228 B2
4
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
3
an engaging protrusion that is engaged or separated from the
lower side of the locking rim based on a rotation operation
of the locking wing and is protruded from an inner side of
the locking wing.
The 10ckjng wing is formed in a S-shape having a 1arge
curve, and the engaging protrusion is a protrusion curved
and protruded from an inner side of the S-shape locking
wing.
The locking part is formed on three surfaces except for the
hinge connection part.
A connection ring is protruded at the hinge connection
part, the cover body having the locking part at the opposite
side or the casing body for connecting a portable assistant
strap for an easier carriage.
Aportable assistant strap is connected with the connecting
ring in a closed shape.
The cover body includes inner and outer rims that form an
engaging groove capable of receiving a rim of an upper side
of the casing body along the outer side of the same, wherein
a sealing packing is provided in the engaging groove formed
between the inner and outer rims for thereby sealing the
casing body and the cover body as it is elastically compressed by the upper side of the rim of the casing body when
the cover body is closed.
The locking part is formed on three surfaces except for the
surface in which the hinge connection part is formed, and the
locking protrusions and locking holes are formed at the
lowing wings having a longer length in multiple numbers,
respectively, and a melted liquid flow disconnection hole is
formed at the locking wings between the locking holes along
the hinge line.
The hinge connection part includes a pin shaft that is
selectively formed at the casing body and the cover body;
and a hinge protrusion that is rotatable with respect to the pin
shaft.
The preferred embodiments of the present invention will
5 be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a casing body and
a cover body according to a first embodiment of the present
invention, FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating a state of
use according to a first embodiment of the present invention,
10
FIG. 3 is a front view illustrating a state of use according to
a first embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 4 is a plane
view illustrating a state of use according to a first embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 5 is a cross sectional
view taken along the line A-A of FIG. 3 according to the
15
present invention, FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken
along the line B-B of FIG. 4 according to the present
invention, and FIGS. 7 and 8 are cross sectional views taken
along the line C-C of FIG. 4 for describing an opening and
closing state of a cover body according to the present
20 invention.
25
30
35
An impact prevention member is provided in the casing
body.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
40
In the drawings, reference numeral 1 represents a cellular
phone storing case. The cellular phone storing casing 1
includes a casing body 2, a cover 3, a locking part 4 and a
hinge connection part 5.
The construction of the casing body 2 will be described.
The casing body 2 is designed based on various cellular
phones having different sizes and thickness. An inner storing
space 21 is formed therein wherein an upper portion is
opened. The inner storing space 21 has a certain size and
depth for thereby storing the cellular phones (HP).
In the casing body 2, a protrusion rim 23 is formed below
an opened rim upper portion 22. At least one locking
protrusion 24 is protruded from the protrusion rim at each of
three surfaces including one surface opposite to the hinge
connection part. In the present invention, the cellular phone
storing casing 1 is formed in a rectangular shape because
almost cellular phones HP are formed in rectangular shapes.
Therefore, a plurality of locking protrusions 24 are formed
in the left and right longitudinal sides of the casing body 2.
Preferably, two locking protrusions 24 are formed at each
side. One locking protrusion 24 is protruded at one shorter
side.
The present invention will become better understood with
In addition, a plurality of fixed hinges 25 are formed in the
reference to the accompanying drawings which are given
only by way of illustration and thus are not limitative of the 45 shorter sides in which the locking protrusions 24 are not
formed in the casing body 2. Each of the fixed hinges 25 is
present invention, wherein;
outwardly protruded from the protrusion rim 23 and includes
FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a casing body and
a pair of opposite brackets 251, and a pin shaft 252 cona cover body according to a first embodiment of the present
necting the same.
invention;
The construction of the cover body 3 will be described.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating a state of use 50
The cover body 3 includes an upper surface 31 having a
according to a first embodiment of the present invention;
certain size capable of covering the opened upper side of the
FIG. 3 is a front view illustrating a state of use according
casing body 2, an outer rim 32 that is bent in the direction
to a first embodiment of the present invention;
of the casing body 2 from the edges of the upper surface and
FIG. 4 is a plane view illustrating a state of use according
is designed to cover the outer sides of the rim upper side 22
55
to a first embodiment of the present invention;
of the casing body, an inner rim 33 that is formed in an inner
side of the outer rim for thereby surrounding the inner side
FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view taken along the line A-A
of the rim upper side 22, an engaging groove 34 formed
of FIG. 3 according to the present invention;
between the inner and outer rims 32 and 33 for allowing the
FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken along the line B-B
rim upper side 22 to be inserted, so that the cover body 3 is
of FIG. 4 according to the present invention;
60
sealingly engaged with the upper side of the casing body 2.
FIGS. 7 and 8 are cross sectional views taken along the
In addition, the hinge part 35 is formed at the portion
line C-C of FIG. 4 for describing an opening and closing
opposite to the locking protrusion 24 in the four sides of the
state of a cover body according to the present invention;
outer rim 32 at the outer side of the cover body 3. Locking
FIG. 9 is a front cross sectional view according to a
wings 37a, 37b and 37c are connected at the hinge portions
65
second embodiment of the present invention; and
35 in such a manner that the locking wings 37a, 37b and 37c
FIG. 10 is a front cross sectional view according to a third
are freely folded and unfolded with respect to the hinge line
embodiment of the present invention.
36. A locking hole 38 is formed at each locking wing
US 7,255,228 B2
5
6
wherein the locking holes 38 are detachably engaged with
line is not formed at the hinge line 36 based on the melted
the locking protrusions 24 formed at each of three surfaces
liquid flow disconnection hole 7.
of the casing body 2. The number of the locking holes 38 is
The operation of the present invention will be described
determined based on the number of the locking protrusions
with reference to the accompanying drawings.
5
24. In the present invention, two locking holes 38 are formed
The sealing engaged state by the locking part 4 should be
at two locking wings 37a and 37b that are longitudinally
released in order to uncover the cover body 3 engaged to the
formed. One locking hole is formed at one shorter locking
casing body 2. When each locking wing 37a, 37b and 37c
wing 37c.
formed at three surfaces of the cover body 3 is released from
In addition, a plurality of driving hinges 39 are downeach locking protrusion 24, only the driving hinge 39 formed
10
wardly extended from the edge portions of the outer rim in
at one side of the outer rim 32 is rotatable with respect to the
one surface in which the locking wings are not formed as
fixed hinge 25 of the casing body 2 in the cover body 3 as
shown in FIGS. 7 and 8.
one side of the outer rim 32 of the cover body 3. In each
driving hinge 39, at least one hinge protrusion 391 is
Therefore, the user opens the cover body 3 (at this time,
downwardly extended and is curved in such a manner that an
the cover body is rotated by the hinge connection parts 5 (25,
15
end of the same forms a circle in the upward direction for
39)) and is tilted in one side and opened), so that the user can
thereby forming a J-shape. Preferably, the hinge protrusion
store the cellular phone in the inner storing space 21 of the
391 is formed at the center or at both sides of the same. The
casing body 2. After the cellular phone is stored, the cover
hinge protrusions 391 that form the driving hinges are
body 3 is closed, and each locking wing 37a, 37b and 37c
inserted between the brackets 251 that are opposite between
is rotated in the direction of the casing body 2, and the
20
the fixed hinges 25 formed at the casing body 2 and are
locking protrusion 24 is inserted into the locking hole 38
rotatable with respect to the pin shaft 252. In addition, a
formed at the locking wing. In this state, the cover body 3
support protrusion 392 is protruded between hinge protrufully covers the upper side of the casing body 2. At this time,
sions 391 that form a plurality of driving hinges 39 for
the sealing packing 40 disposed between the inner and outer
thereby supporting the upper side of the pin shaft 252.
rims 33 and 32 elastically compresses the rim upper side 22
25
Therefore, when each driving hinge 39 is assembled to each
of the casing body 2 by the engaging force of each locking
fixed hinge 25, the hinge protrusions 391 surround the lower
wing. The above sealing state is continuously maintained
side of the pin shaft 252 and are assembled, and the support
until each locking wing 37a, 37b and 37c is released from
protrusions 392 rotatably support the upper side of the pin
the locking protrusion 24 of the casing body 2.
shaft 252. Therefore, the driving hinge 39 is not loosened
FIG. 9 is a view of the second embodiment of the present
30
from the fixed hinge 25 when the cover body 3 is opened and
invention. As shown therein, the construction of the locking
closed.
part 411 is different from the first embodiment of the present
In addition, a sealing packing 40 is inserted into the
invention. An engaging groove 24a is formed at the lower
engaging groove 34 formed between the inner and outer
side of the locking rim 24 protruded along the outer portion
rims 33 and 32 of the cover body 3 in order for the cover
of the upper side of the casing body 2, and the engaging
35
body 3 to seal the casing body 2. The sealing packing 40 is
protrusion 70 is protruded at the inner side of the locking
formed of a rubber material and has a fully filled cross
wing 37d connected with the cover body 3 with the hinge
section. In another embodiment of the present invention, it
line 35. In the above state, when the locking wing 37 is
may have a hollow cross section. The sealing packing 40 has
pressed closer to the locking rim 24, the end 7011 of the
a better elasticity for thereby enhancing a sealing force of the
engaging protrusion 70 moves over the lower surface of the
40
cover body 3. The sealing packing 40 having a hollow cross
locking rim 24 and is engaged to the engaging groove 2411,
section is preferably used in order to protect the cellular
so that the cover body 3 is sealingly engaged with the casing
phone from moisture or water.
body 2.
In the cellular phone storing casing 1, a portable assistant
Therefore, the engaging protrusion 70 is formed in a
strap 50 may be connected in a circular shape like a strap
L-shape in which the end 7011 is upwardly protruded in a
45 horizontal state.
connected with the cellular phone thereby for achieving an
FIG. 10 is a view of the third embodiment that the second
easier carriage. In the present invention, a connection ring
60 having a connection hole 61 capable of connecting the
embodiment of the present invention is modified. In this
portable assistant strap 50 is formed at one surface of the
embodiment of the present invention, the locking wing 37e
outer rim 32 in which the locking wings 37a, 37b and 37c
forming the locking part 4b is formed in a S-shape having a
50
are not formed in the cover body 3. At this time, the
larger curve. The protrusion portion 70b protruded and
connection ring 60 may be formed at either the cover body
curved in the inner direction of the locking wing 37e
or the casing body of the surface in which the hinge
performs the operation like the engaging protrusion 70 of the
first embodiment.
connection part 5 is positioned or the opposite locking part
is formed.
The protrusion portion 70b corresponding to the engaging
55
Amelted liquid flow disconnection hole 7 is formed along
protrusion 70 has a slanted surface that is almost horizontal
the hinge line 36 at the center between two locking holes 38
or slightly rises in the inner direction in its upper surface in
in order to prevent a welded line from being formed at the
a state that the locking wing 37e is locked, or an end portion
hinge line 36 that connects both locking wings 37a and 37b
of the same slightly rises in the upward direction. The
formed at the left and right sides in which the lengths of the
protrusion portion 70b is caught by the lower surface 24b
60
outer rim 32 are longer when the injection is performed. The
concaved in the locking rim 24 formed at the casing body 2.
melted liquid flow disconnection hole 7 operates in such a
The locking rim 24 is formed of a slanted surface or an
manner that the melted liquid spreading in all directions
upwardly concaved grove, so that the lower surface 24b can
when the plastic melted liquid is injected in the direction of
receive the upper end of the protrusion 70b.
the center of the upper surface 31 of the cover body 3 is not
In the case of the second embodiment of the present
65
gathered at one portion but meets with the bodies of the
invention, when injecting the cover body 3, an assistant core
locking wings 37a and 37b. Therefore, the life span of each
should be used due to the engaging protrusion 70. In the case
locking wing 36 is significantly extended since the welded
of the third embodiment of the present invention, since the
US 7,255,228 B2
7
8
locking wing 37e is formed in a S-shape and the inner
portion of the body shares the function of the engaging
protrusion, it is possible to fabricate without using the
assistant core during the injection.
In the present invention, in a state that the cellular phone
HP is stored in the cellular phone storing casing 1 of which
the cover body 3 is engaged to the casing body 2, even when
the cellular phone storing casing 1 is exposed to rain water
while hanging the cellular phone on the neck using the
portable assistant strap 50, the rain water is not penetrated
into the inner storing space 21 of the casing body 2. In
addition, even when the cellular phone gets wet in water at
beach, it does not sink, so that water does not penetrate, and
it is possible to protect the cellular phone stored in the
cellular phone storing casing 1 from moisture and water.
In addition, since the cellular phone HP stored in the
cellular phone storing casing 1 is protected by the casing
body 2 and the cover body 3, when carrying the cellular
phone in a state that the cellular phone is stored in the bag,
the other items stored in the bag contact with the cellular
phone storing casing 1 with no friction. Even when the
cellular phone casing 1 is dropped on the floor or the ground,
it is possible to absorb the impact for thereby effectively
protecting the cellular phone HP. In addition, the cellular
phone storing casing 1 may include a certain impact prevention material such as sponge, foamed resin, or foamed
packing paper for thereby elfectively absorbing and decreasing the impact. In another embodiment of the present
invention, an impact prevention material may cover and
store the cellular phone, so that it is possible to more
effectively protect the cellular phone HP.
As described above, in the present invention, when various kinds of cellular phones used by many people are stored
in the cellular phone storing casing according to the present
invention, it is possible to easily hear the incoming signals
of the cellular phone. In the manner mode, it is possible to
easily recognize the vibration sound or vibration, so that
there is not any problem in the use of cellular phone. Even
when the user drops the cellular phone storing casing onto
the floor or the ground, it is possible to safely protect the
cellular phone. In addition, even when the cellular phone
casing is exposed in rain, rainwater does not penetrate into
the interior having the cellular phone therein. If the cellular
phone storing casing is dropped into water, the interior of the
same is fully sealed for thereby preventing the penetration of
water thereinto. Therefore, in the present invention, it is
possible to safely store the cellular phone in the cellular
phone storing casing, so that a n emergency call may be
made at the outdoor or at beach. When an emergency
situation occurs, it is possible to send a rescue call using the
cellular phone.
As the present invention may be embodied in several
forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof, it should also be understood that the abovedescribed examples are not limited by any of the details of
the foregoing description, unless otherwise specified, but
rather should be construed broadly within its spirit and scope
as defined in the appended claims, and therefore all changes
and modifications that fall within the meets and bounds of
a cover body separate from the casing body for covering
the casing body so that the cellular phone is sealed in
the inner storing space of the casing body, wherein the
cover body is opened and closed with respect to the
casing body;
a hinge connection part operatively connecting the cover
body to the casing body so that the cover body is
readily attachable and detachable from the casing body
and rotatable with respect to one surface of the casing
body; and
locking means for sealingly locking and unlocking the
cover body with respect to the casing body, wherein
said locking means includes:
a locking protrusion that is protruded from one surface
of the casing body at a portion opposite to the hinge
connection part;
a locking wing that is integrally connected with the
cover body and is folded and unfolded by a hinge
line; and
a locking hole that is formed at the locking wing
wherein the locking protrusion is inserted and
engaged therein,
wherein said locking protrusions and locking holes are
formed at the locking wings having a longer length
in multiple numbers, respectively, and a melted
liquid flow disconnection hole is formed at the
locking wings between the locking holes along the
hinge line.
2. The casing of claim 1, wherein said locking means
includes:
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
a locking rim that is protruded from one surface of the
casing body at a portion opposite to the hinge connection part in a straight line shape;
a locking wing that is connected at the cover body
opposite to the locking rim and is folded and unfolded
by a hinge line; and
an engaging protrusion that is engaged or separated from
the lower side of the locking rim based on a rotation
operation of the locking wing and is protruded from an
inner side of the locking wing.
3. The casing of claim 2, wherein said locking wing is
formed in an S-shape having a large curve, and said engaging protrusion is a protrusion curved and protruded from an
inner side of the S-shape locking wing.
4. The casing of claim 1, wherein a connection ring is
protruded at the hinge connection part, the cover body
having the locking means at the opposite side of the casing
body for connecting a portable assistant strap for an easier
carriage.
5. The casing of claim 4, wherein a portable assistant strap
is connected with the connecting ring in a closed shape.
6. The casing of claim 1, wherein said cover body
includes:
inner and outer rims that form an engaging groove
capable of receiving a rim of an upper side of the casing
body along the outer side of the same, wherein a sealing
packing is provided in the engaging groove formed
between the inner and outer rims for thereby sealing the
casing body and the cover body as it is elastically
60
the claims, or equivalences of such meets and bounds are
compressed by the upper side of the rim of the casing
therefore intended to be embraced by the appended claims.
body when the cover body is closed.
What is claimed is:
7. The casing of claim 1, wherein said hinge connection
1. A cellular phone storing casing, comprising:
part includes:
a casing body having an inner storing space having a
a pin shaft that is selectively formed at the casing body
65
certain size and depth for storing a cellular phone, an
and the cover body; and
upper side of the casing body being open for storing
a hinge protrusion that is rotatable with respect to the pin
shaft.
and unloading of the cellular phone;
55
US 7,255,228 B2
9
8. The casing of claim 1, wherein an impact prevention
member is provided in the casing body.
9. A cellular phone storing casing, comprising:
a casing body that has an inner storing space having a
certain size and depth for storing a common cellular
phone wherein an upper side of the same is opened for
an easier storing and unloading of a cellular phone;
a cover body that is fabricated in separation with the
casing body and stores or unloads in a state that a
10
cellular phone is sealed in the inner storing space of the
casing body wherein the cover body is opened and
closed with respect to the casing body;
a hinge connection part that is designed so that the cover
body is rotatable with respect to one surface of the
15
casing body; and
a locking means that sealingly engages or opens the cover
body with respect to the casing body; wherein the
locking means includes:
10
a locking protrusion that is protruded from one surface
of the casing body at a portion opposite to the hinge
connection part;
a locking wing that is integrally connected with the
cover body and is folded and unfolded by the hinge
line; and
a locking hole that is formed at the locking wing
wherein the locking protrusion is inserted and
engaged therein; and
wherein said locking protrusions and locking holes are
formed at the locking wings having a longer length in
multiple numbers, respectively, and a melted liquid
flow disconnection hole is formed at the locking wings
between the locking holes along the hinge line.
US0073 l2984B2
(12) United States Patent
(54)
(75)
(73)
(*)
(45) Date of Patent:
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE AND
WATERTIGHT ADAPTER FOR AN
INTERACTIVE FLAT-PANEL CONTROLLED
DEVICE
Inventors: Curtis R. Richardson, Fort Collins,
CO (US); Brian P. Thomas, Fort
Collins, CO (US); Douglas A. Kempel,
Fort Collins, CO (US); Alan V.
Morine, Fort Collins, CO (US)
Assignee: Otter Products, LLC, Fort Collins, CO
(US)
Notice:
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
This patent is subject to a terminal disclaimer.
(21)
Appl. No.: 11/676,986
(22)
(65)
Filed:
Feb. 20, 2007
Prior Publication Data
US 2007/0139873 A1
Jun. 21, 2007
Related U.S. Application Data
(63)
Continuation of application No. 11/077,963, filed on
Mar. 10, 2005, now Pat. No. 7,180,735, which is a
continuation-in-part of application No. 10/937,048,
filed on Sep. 8, 2004, now Pat. No. 7,158,376, which
is a continuation-in-part of application No. 10/645,
439, filed on Aug. 20, 2003, now Pat. No. 6,995,976,
which is a continuation of application No. 10/300,
200, filed on Nov. 19, 2002, now Pat. No. 6,646,864.
(60)
Provisional application No. 60/335,865, filed on Nov.
19, 2001.
Int. Cl.
(51)
US 7,312,984 B2
(10) Patent No.:
Richardson et al.
(52)
G06F 1/16
(2006.01)
U.S. Cl. .................... .. 361/686; 361/683; 206/701;
367/131
(58)
Field of Classification Search .............. .. 361/683,
361/686
(56)
References Cited
U. S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
2,392,787 A
1/1946 Vermot
(Continued)
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
U.S. Appl. No. 29/225,168, filed Mar. 11, 2005.
(Continued)
Primary Examiner—Jayprakash Gandhi
Assistant Examiner—Anthony Q Edwards
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—William W. Cochran;
Cochran Freund & Young LLC
(57)
ABSTRACT
A protective enclosure is disclosed for an interactive flatpanel control device. The protective enclosure is watertight,
crush-resistant, and impact-resistant. An electrical adapter
may disposed within the protective enclosure and covered
with an elastomeric covering that permits a connector of the
adapter to flex with respect to the lower shell of the
enclosure so that the connector may easily be inserted into
an interface jack of the electronic device. The elastomeric
covering also provides a watertight seal that enables the
protective enclosure to be submersibly watertight. While
providing protection, the protective enclosure simultaneously allows smooth and accurate interaction with the
interactive flat-panel controlled device. The protective
enclosure has a protective membrane that permits RF and
touch screen stylus inputs, as well as capacitance, such as
from a finger, to be transmitted accurately to the flat-panel
control. The hardness and texture of the protective membrane allows a stylus or finger to glide smoothly along the
surface of the membrane without catching or sticking. The
protective enclosure is further adapted to allow infrared and
other communication signals while the device is secured
inside the case. Further, electrical connections can be made
through the case without affecting the protection aiforded
the electronic device inside. The protective enclosure may
have a removable cable management belt clip that has a
flange that retains and prevents entangling of an accessory
cable for the interactive flat-panel control device.
See application file for complete search history.
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
*Dec. 25, 2007
5 Claims, 28 Drawing Sheets
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE
W 2200
UPPER SHELL
INTERNAL LOWER SHELL
2208
PLUG
HINGE PIVOT
STOP
1220
HINGE PIVOT
STOP
US 7,312,984 B2
Page 2
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
D216 853 S
’
D220,233
s
3/1970 S h
° “rm”
3/1971 schurrnan
6,396,769 B1
5/2002 Polany
6,415,138 B2
7/2002 sirola
6,445,577 B1
6,456,487 B1
D464196 S
3,590,988 A
7/1971 Ho11ar
D275,822 s
10/1984 Gatland
10/1987
8/1988
3/1992
7/1992
9/1992
10/1992
12/1992
5/1993
12/1993
5/1994
6/1994
12/1994
7/1997
11/1997
12/1998
5/1999
7/1999
8/1999
8/1999
1/2000
2/2000
2/2000
2/2000
3/2000
4/2000
5/2000
5/2000
8/2000
McLean
Patterson
Uljanic et a1. ............ .. 206/320
Hardigg
Embree
Brightbill
Goldenburg
ward
Brightbill
Dickenson
Wentz
VanSkiVer
Green
Sheu
Erickson
Laba
Porter
Schmitt
Zurwelle
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Kunen
Tajirna
Danielson
Cooper
Derr
Zurwelle
6,471,055
13455330
134701559
6,519,141
6,525,928
6,536,589
D472,384
6,614,722
6,617,973
6,646,864
6,659,274
6,665,174
D513,123
D513,451
D514308
6,995,976
D5l6,309
D5l6,553
D5l6,554
D5l6,807
D526,780
D530,079
7,158,376
7,180,735
2002/0101707
2004/0120219
2006/0061950
2006/0274493
6,094,785
D433,798
D439,407
6,215,474
8/2000
11/2000
3/2001
4/2001
Montgomery
Weinstock
Parker
shah
2007/0086273 Al*
4,703,161
4,762,227
5,092,459
133275646
D329,747
D330,329
5,175,873
D335,220
D342,609
D347,324
D347,732
D353,048
13381512
D386,611
D402,l05
D409,374
134121052
D413,202
D413,203
13419397
13419767
134191758
6,031,524
6,041,924
6,049,813
D423,772
6,068,119
D429,884
A
A
A
S
s
s
A
s
s
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
A
A
A
S
A
S
A
s
S
B1
134415954 S
6,239,968
134435133
6,273,252
6,301,100
6,313,892
6,317,313
6,388,877
B1
s
B1
Bl
B2
B1
B1
5/2001 Parker
5/2001
5/2001
8/2001
10/2001
11/2001
11/2001
5/2002
Kim
Richardson
Mitchell
Iwata
Gleckrrlan
Mosgrove
Canova
5
B1
S
S
B2
B1
B2
s
B2
131*
B2
B2
B1
s
s
S
B2
s
s
s
s
s
s
B2
132*
A1
A1
A1
A1
9/2002 Madsen
.
9/2002 Hetterick
10/2002 P k
/
10 2002
11/2002
2/2003
2/2003
2/2003
3/2003
4/2003
9/2003
9/2003
11/2003
12/2003
12/2003
12/2005
1/2006
2/2006
2/2006
3/2006
3/2006
3/2006
3/2006
8/2006
10/2006
1/2007
2/2007
8/2002
6/2004
3/2006
12/2006
‘“ er
Tzeng
Parker
Story
Tseng
Madsen
Chang
Richardson
Polany
Osterman .............. .. 340/636.1
Richardson
Enners
Den
Richardson
Richardson
Morine
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Richardson
Thomas et a1. ........... .. 361/686
Canova
Polany
Richardson
Richardson
4/2007 Polany et a1. ............. .. 367/131
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
U.S. Appl. No. 29/211,554, filed Aug. 17, 2004.
U.S.
U.S.
U.S.
U.S.
U.S.
Appl.
Appl.
Appl.
Appl.
Appl.
NO.
No.
No.
No.
No.
29/246,914,
29/246,912,
29/246,913,
60/805,833,
60/807,726,
* cited by examiner
filed
filed
filed
filed
filed
May 19, 2006.
May 19, 2006.
May 19, 2006.
Jun. 26, 2006.
Jul. 19, 2006.
F1IGURE
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25 2007
Sheet 2 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
mN_ :o_.
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 3 of 28
FIGURE 3
US 7,312,984 B2
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 4 of 28
FIGURE 4
US 7,312,984 B2
FIGURE 5
U.S. Patent
O:
mo ,
Dec. 25, 2007
5.,WIl%\|1§‘_m.\1_],Il:M.
Sheet 6 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
mc:w_u
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25 2007
Sheet 7 of 28
\M
FIGURE 7
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 8 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
mmawc
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 9 of 28
FIGURE 9
US 7,312,984 B2
FIGURE 10
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 11 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
1FIGURE
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 12 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
STYLUS
HOLDER
1220
PROTECWVE
MEMBRANE
1214
1206
LATCH
1200 /
PROTECTIVE
COVER
FIGURE 12
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 13 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
matm
0:2
E0Z_Q>.Oo2
y5b jzad$m_>:8HoE2n aw m.:«_0E?<>QO+ozn m_>b:oE Emw._j;<zp
mU5u<:
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mNo_.n
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5<.2 ".
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 14 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
SuHEpL 1304
1334
STIFENR
1336
STWFENR
STIFENR
F1IG3UBRE
1338
1340
STFENR
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 15 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
.#Q_0mI_:
m._1:w."_
m>_b :oE m_¢:o.uzm_
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
m
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Sheet 16 of 28
Emsam S2
US 7,312,984 B2
.Â_»zm>
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mpm~mn_>Sm _mDU_u
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 17 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECTIVE
ENCLOSURE BASE
1600
INTERNAL
FLEXIBLE
BUMPER
DOCKING
INTERNAL
CONNECTER
BUMPER
CHANNEL
1604
1502
ACCESS
DOCKING
CONNECTOR
INTERNAL
BUMPER
INTERNAL
1622
BUMPER
POD DOOR
FIGURE 16
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 18 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECTIVE
ENCLOSURE
1700
PROTECTIVE
8
SCREEN
SHELL LID
MEMBRANE
1706
1710
LATCH
1718
PROTECTIVE
TOUCH—CONTROL
MEMBRANE
PLUG
DISPLAY
‘724
SCREEN
INTERACTIVE
FLAT—PANEL
CONTROL
1712
1702j'/,
1716
HANDHELD
GASKET
DEVICE ,
HELL BASE
FIGURE 17
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 19 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECHVE
ENCLOSURE
1800 ;g>
SHELLUD
, ADAPTER à■™
ADAPTER
CABLE
1816
ADAPTER
JACK
SHELLBASE
FIGURE 18
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 20 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECTIVE
RECESSED
ENC1L9%:’)URE
TEXTURED AREA
1918
PROTECTIVE
LATCH
1910
MEMBRANE
1916
-
UPPER SHELL
{j ‘
"
1906
‘
X
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
€t■■
1914
1908
LOWER SHELL
EXTERNAL
1902
INTERNAL
PLUG
1920
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
FIGURE 19A
JACK
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 21 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECIV ENCLOSURE 31900
_|
._J
%
U38
2:
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N20
cs.
2Lu—1
:2
*2-“L
D.
Oo::>
ELASTOMERIC COVERING
€908 LSOHWELR
RF9U1IBEG
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 22 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
HINGE
HINGE
PIVOT STOP
PIVOT STOP
2022
2006
SUB-STRUCTURE
INTERNAL
PLUG
2008
LOWER SHELL
FIGURE 20
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 23 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
ELASTOMERIC
COVERiNG
LOWER SHELL
FIGURE 21
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 24 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE
)/ 2200
UPPER SHELL
2206
FIGURE 22
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 25 of 28
ELASTOMERIC
FIGURE 23
US 7,312,984 B2
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 26 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE
2400\
JACK
ELASTOMERIC
JACK
COVERING
EAR BUDS
E‘ Ç}■
EAR BUDS
2408
EAR BUDS
2408
FIGURE 24
4
U.S. Patent
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 27 of 28
RELEASE CLIP
2506
LOWER SHELL
FIGURE 25
US 7,312,984 B2
U
e
Dec. 25, 2007
Sheet 28 of 28
US 7,312,984 B2
S.”_>:Eo P.m_%odz M8%
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m2_. =u_”
:E,asm_u6<z2
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US 7,312,984 B2
1
2
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURE AND
sure that protects a handheld electronic device and permits
WATERTIGHT ADAPTER FOR AN
accessories to be electrically connected to the handheld
INTERACTIVE FLAT-PANEL CONTROLLED
device when the handheld device is enclosed within the
DEVICE
protective enclosure.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent applica10
tion Ser. No. 11/077,963 entitled “Protective Enclosure and
Watertight Adapter for An Interactive Flat-Panel Controlled
Device” by Curtis R. Richardson, et al., filed Mar. 10, 2005
now U.S. Pat. No. 7,180,735.
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/077,963 is a continu15
ation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/937,048
entitled “Protective Enclosure for an Interactive Flat Panel
Controlled Device” by Curtis R. Richardson, et al., filed Sep.
8, 2004 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,158,376.
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/937,048 is a continu20
ation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/645,439
entitled “Protective Membrane for a Touch Screen Device”
by Curtis R. Richardson, filed Aug. 20, 2003 now U.S. Pat.
No. 6,995,976.
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/645,439 is a continu25
ation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/300,200 entitled
“Protective Case for Touch Screen Device” by Curtis R.
Richardson, filed Nov. 19, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,646,
864 which claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/335,865 filed Nov. 19,
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2001 by Curtis R. Richardson entitled “Protective Case for
Touch Screen Device.” The entire contents of all of the
above mentioned applications are hereby specifically incorporated herein by reference for all they disclose and teach.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
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a. Field of the Invention
The present invention pertains generally to protective
cases and specifically to protective cases for electronic
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devices that have an interactive flat-panel control.
b. Description of the Background
Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs as well as other
portable electronic devices such as Apple iPods, and other
similar devices, that store and play MP3 data, are being very
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widely used, and are being deployed in industrial as well as
office environments.
The invention may therefore comprise a protective enclosure for a handheld device having an interactive flat-panel
control comprising: an upper shell and a lower shell that are
hingedly connected, said upper shell and said lower shell
enclosing said handheld electronic device, said handheld
electronic device being a separate unit from said protective
enclosure, said handheld electronic device being insertable
in and removable from said enclosure by hand, said shell
being substantially submersibly watertight when closed, said
enclosure having at least one hinge pivot stop that constrains
opening of said upper shell to a maximum predetermined
angle; a protective membrane disposed within said upper
shell, said protective membrane being at least partially
transparent so that said interactive flat-panel control is
visible through said protective membrane, said membrane
being sufficiently thin and textured to permit significantly
smooth interactive tactile control of said flat-panel control of
said handheld electronic device; an adapter disposed within
said protective enclosure, said adapter having an intemal
connector that is capable of electrically connecting to said
handheld electronic device, said adapter having an extemal
connector that is capable of being electrically connected to
an accessory for said handheld electronic device, said internal connector being electrically connected to said extemal
connector so that when said accessory is electrically connected to said external connector said accessory is also
electrically connected to said internal connector and to said
handheld electronic device; and an elastomeric covering that
covers and substantially surrounds said intemal connector
and said extemal connector of said adapter, said elastomeric
covering holding said intemal connector and said extemal
connector in place within enclosure, said elastomeric covering permitting said internal connector to tilt within a
predetermined range of angles so that said intemal connector
easily connects to said handheld electronic device when said
handheld electronic device is inserted into said protective
enclosure within a range of predetermined angles, said
elastomeric covering maintaining said protective enclosure
substantially submersibly watertight when said handheld
electronic
device is enclosed within said protective enclosure.
The industrial environments, as well as normal use, can
The invention may further comprise an electrical adapter
impose harsh conditions that typical handheld electronic
for a submersibly watertight protective enclosure for a
devices are not designed to accommodate. For example,
handheld electronic device comprising: at least one intemal
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damage can be done to such devices through rough handling
connector that is adapted to connect to an interface of the
and dropping. Further, liquids, chemicals, grease, water, dirt,
handheld electronic device, the internal connector adapted to
and grime may damage or destroy a functioning handheld
be at least partially disposed within the enclosure and to
electronic device or otherwise inhibit the use of the device.
connect to the interface within the enclosure when the
Handheld electronic devices may be connected to earenclosure is closed in a submersibly watertight marmer; at
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phones or to other accessories. The handheld electronic
least one extemal connector that is adapted to connect to an
device may be directly connected using a wire connection,
accessory for the handheld electronic device, the extemal
wherein a cable with a connector physically connects to the
connector adapted to be at least partially disposed within the
device. Cables or connectors that permit liquid to pass from
enclosure and to connect to the accessory that is outside of
the outside of the protective enclosure to the inside of the
the enclosure when the enclosure is closed in a submersibly
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protective enclosure may make the enclosure unsuitable for
watertight manner; cabling that is disposed within the encloapplications where a watertight connection is required or
sure that electrically connects the internal connector to the
desired.
external connector; and an elastomeric covering that at least
partially surrounds and provides a watertight seal around a
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
portion of the internal connector and the external connector
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and the enclosure so that the enclosure is submersibly
The present invention overcomes the disadvantages and
watertight when the enclosure is closed, the elastomeric
limitations of the prior art by providing a protective enclocovering being flexible so that the intemal connector may be
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deflected at an angle that facilitates connection of the
connector to the interface of the electronic device.
FIG. 14 is a perspective top view of the embodiment of
FIG. 13A with an open lid.
FIG. 15 is a perspective bottom view of the embodiment
of FIG. 13A.
The invention may further comprise a method of manufacturing a submersibly watertight enclosure with an accessory adapter for a handheld electronic device comprising:
providing a upper shell and a lower shell that form a
protective enclosure, the upper shell and the lower shell
being hingedly connected, the upper shell and the lower
shell being capable of enclosing the handheld electronic
device, the handheld electronic device being a separate unit
from the upper shell and the lower shell, the handheld
electronic device being insertable in and removable from the
upper shell and the lower shell by hand, the shell being
substantially submersibly watertight when closed, the enclosure having at least one hinge pivot stop that constrains
opening of the upper shell to a maximum predetermined
angle; disposing an adapter at least partially within the
protective enclosure, the adapter having an intemal connector that is capable of electrically connecting to an interface
of a handheld electronic device, the adapter having an
external connector that is capable of being electrically
connected to an accessory for the handheld electronic
device, the internal connector being electrically connected to
the external connector so that when the accessory is electrically connected to the extemal connector the accessory is
also electrically connected to the intemal connector and to
the interface of the handheld electronic device; at least
partially covering the adapter with an elastomeric covering
that forms a submersibly watertight seal around the adapter
so that the enclosure is submersibly watertight when the
enclosure is close, the elastomeric covering being flexible to
that the internal connector may deflected at an angle to
facilitate connection of the intemal connector to the interface of the handheld electronic device.
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the base of the embodiment of FIG. 13A.
FIG. 17 is an exploded view of an embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device.
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FIG. 18 is an exploded view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device.
FIG. 19A is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device with the protective enclosure having an integrated
watertight electrical adapter.
FIG. 19B is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
protective enclosure for an interactive flat-panel controlled
device with the protective enclosure having an integrated
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watertight electrical adapter.
FIG. 20 illustrates an electrical adapter with intemal plug
and an extemal jack disposed within the protective enclosure
of the embodiment of FIG. 19A.
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FIG. 21 illustrates an elastomeric covering for the electrical adapter of the embodiment of FIG. 20.
FIG. 22 illustrates hinge pivot stops of the protective
enclosure of FIG. 19A in the open position at a maximum
angle.
FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure of the
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embodiment of FIG. 19A having a single extemal jack.
FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure
having two external jacks.
FIG. 25 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip for the protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG.
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19A with the belt clip attached to the protective enclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 26 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip for the protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG.
19A with the belt clip removed from the protective encloIn the drawings,
sure.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the 40
invention shown in the closed position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
INVENTION
invention shown in the open position.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
invention shown in an exploded state.
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invention. Embodiment 100 comprises a rigidly molded
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the
invention shown from the rear.
front case 102 and rear case 104. An overmolded grommet
106 forms a receptacle for stylus 108 and also aids in sealing
FIG. 5 is a front view of a11 embodiment of the invention,
membrane
110. A flexible hand strap 112 attaches to the rear
showing a section line.
case 104. Ahinge 114joins front case 102 and rear case 104.
FIG. 6 is a section view of an embodiment of the
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A ring 124 for a lanyard is shown as an integral feature of
invention.
rear case 104.
FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a section shown in FIG. 6.
Embodiment 100 is designed to hold a conventional
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another embodiment
personal digital assistant (PDA) in a protective case. A PDA,
comprising a single piece encapsulating cover.
such as a Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, Compaq Ipaq,
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a third embodiment 55
Hewlett Packard Jornada, or similar products use a touch
comprising a non-encapsulating snap over cover.
screen for display and data entry. The touch screen display
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an embodiment that
comprises either a color or black and white liquid crystal
comprises a belt clip.
display with a touch sensitive device mounted on top of the
FIG. 11 is a second perspective view of an embodiment
display. The display is used for displaying graphics, text, and
60 other elements to the user. The touch screen is used with a
that comprises a belt clip.
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of
stylus 108 to select elements from the screen, to draw
the present invention of a protective cover for a PDA or
figures, and to enter text with a character recognition proother device.
gram in the PDA. The stylus 108 generally resembles a
FIG. 13A is a perspective top view of another embodiconventional writing implement. However, the tip of the
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ment of a protective enclosure for a tablet PC.
writing implement is a rounded plastic tip. In place of a
FIG. 13B is a view of the protective enclosure lid of FIG.
stylus 108, the user may use the tip of a finger or fingernail,
13A.
or a conventional pen or pencil. When a conventional
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writing implement is used, damage to the touch screen
element may occur, such as scratches.
elegant, but may also require the cover to be replaceable so
that scratches and other signs of wear and tear can be easily
and cheaply replaced.
The protective cover for the PDA may take on many
embodiments. The embodiment 100 comprises a front case
102 and rear case 104 that are joined by a hinge 114 and a
clasp mechanism that is on the side of the cases opposite the
hinge 114. Other embodiments may have a small door into
which the PDA slides, or the protective cover may not
completely enclose the PDA and only cover the face where
the user interface exists, leaving one or more sides of the
PDA exposed. Those skilled in the art may use other designs
of protective covers without deviating from the scope and
intent of the present invention.
The protective cover may be constructed of rigid plastic,
metal, flexible rubber, or any other type of material that
could be adapted to afford the protection of the PDA desired
for the application. For example, a metal cover may be used
in an application where an elegant style is necessary but
watertightness is not. A flexible rubber cover may be
selected for an application in a wet environment. A rigid
plastic cover may be selected for an application where
dropping the PDA is a concem. Those skilled in the art may
use other types of materials and constructions without
deviating from the spirit of the present invention.
The PDA may be mounted in the protective cover using
many different mounting techniques. For example, the PDA
may be mounted using open or closed cell foam inserts in the
protective cover. In another embodiment, the PDA may be
mounted by attaching the PDA to the cover with a fastener.
In another embodiment, the PDA may be mounted by
snapping into the protective waterproof cover. In another
embodiment, the PDA may be held in place by resting in
molded features of two halves of a protective case that
clamps onto the PDA. Those skilled in the art may use other
types of locating and holding mechanisms without deviating
from the spirit of the present invention.
The overmolded grommet 106 of the present embodiment
is constructed by injection molding a thermoplastic polymerized rubber (TPR) over the front case 102. The grommet
106 has molded features 116 and 118 adapted to retain the
stylus 108. Features 116 and 118 capture the stylus 108
during transportation, but allow the user to remove the stylus
108 to operate the PDA. In other embodiments of the present
invention, the stylus 108 may be constrained to the PDA
with a tether or lanyard, or the constraining features may be
incorporated into other components that make up the protective cover. Further, the stylus 108 may not be present in
the embodiment, rather, the PDA be adapted to be used with
the user’s fingemail or with another implement similar to the
stylus 108.
The membrane 110 of the present embodiment is constructed by thermoforrning a sheet of thin plastic. The plastic
is selected to be thin enough that the deformation of a stylus
conducts the touch to the touch screen, but thick enough to
have enough rigidity that the stylus does not catch and rip
the membrane. Additionally, the membrane 110 should have
enough thickness to endure scratches and other wear and
tear without breaking and sacrificing the protective function.
Polyvinylchloride material at 0.010 in to 0.015 in thickness
gives acceptable results. Altematively, membrane 110 may
be constructed by injection molding or other methods.
Alternative materials may be used by those skilled in the art
to achieve the same results while maintaining within the
spirit and intent of the present invention.
The membrane 110 in the present embodiment may be
translucent or at least partially transparent, so that the
For the purposes of this specification, the term PDA shall
include any electronic device that has a touch screen interface. This may include instruments such as voltmeters,
oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and any other handheld,
bench top, or rack mounted instrument that has a touch
screen interface. Handheld devices, such as cell phones,
satellite phones, telemetric devices, and other handheld
devices are also to be classified as PDAs for the purposes of
this specification. The term PDA shall also include any
computer terminal display that has a touch screen interface.
These may comprise kiosks, outdoor terminal interfaces,
industrial computer interfaces, commercial computer interfaces and other computer displays. Additionally, the term
PDA may comprise barcode scanners, handheld GPS receivers, and other handheld electronic devices. The foregoing
description of the term PDA has been presented for purposes
of illustration and description. It is not intended to be
exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms
disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be
possible in light of the teachings of this specification.
In addition, the PDAs typically have a handful of additional buttons as part of the user interface. These buttons are
generally on the front of the device, near the touch screen
element. The additional buttons may be used as shortcut
buttons to instantly call up a certain program on the PDA,
may comprise a method of scrolling, may be used to select
items from a list, or may have any function that the designer
of the PDA software may assign to the button or set of
buttons. The button size, layout, and function may vary for
each manufacturer and model of PDA.
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Further, PDAs typically have at least one method of 35
connecting to another computer. This may be through a
direct electrical connection, such as through a wire cable or
fiber optic, or through another medium such as infrared
communication or through a radio communication.
Additionally, the PDAs typically have an electrical 40
source. The electrical source may be a rechargeable or
non-rechargeable battery or solar cells. The electrical source
may be a remote source of electricity that is transmitted to
the PDA through a wire cable or through other methods of
electrical transmission.
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Further, PDAs may have indicator lights, such as status
lights for power, communication, battery status, or other
functions. The lights may be located on any of the sides of
the PDA and may be viewable on one or more sides.
Front case 102 and rear case 104 form a protective cover
for the PDA. The protective cover may be designed for
rugged industrial use, recreational use, commercial use, or
many other uses. An industrial use may require the protective cover to be watertight, chemically resistant, protect the
unit when dropped, and be crush proof. A typical application
may be for fire fighters to use a PDA for a display of maps
for directions to an emergency scene or for a building plan
at the scene of a fire. Another example may be a maintenance
mechanic in a chemical plant using a PDA to record maintenance records in the plant that processes. A recreational
use may require the cover to be watertight, afford some
protection against dropping and being crushed, float in
water, and be dust resistant. A recreational use may be to
take the PDA during kayaking, diving, or other water sport
activity. Further, the case may be used when the PDA is
taken camping, hiking, or other outdoor activity. A commercial use may additionally require the protective cover to be
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images displayed on the PDA may be visible through the
membrane 110. The membrane 110 may be tinted or colorized in some applications. For example, a protective cover
designed as a decorative cover may incorporate a colorized
membrane 110. Further, the membrane may be selectively
colorized and the opaqueness may vary. For example, the
protective membrane may be printed or painted in the areas
not used for the touch screen. A printing process may
incorporate a logo, graphics, or labeling for individual
buttons for the PDA. The printing process may further
incorporate features, such as text or graphics, that are used
by the software on the PDA for a purpose such as simplifying data input or for designating an area on the touch
screen for a specific function, such as a help function. The
printing or painting processes used on the membrane 110
may be purely decorative and may be for aesthetic purposes
only. The printing process may also comprise logos or
graphics for the brand identity of the PDA cover. Other
processes, such as colorizing the raw material for the membrane 110 or adding other components to the raw material,
such as metal flakes or other additives, may be used to
change the optical features of the membrane 110.
The optical performance of the membrane 110 may be
changed or enhanced by changing the texture of the area of
the touch screen. For example, the membrane may be frosted
on the outside to hide scratches or may be imprinted with a
lens or other features that change the optical characteristics
of the membrane 110. The membrane 110 may have optical
features that are used in conjunction with the software of the
PDA. For example, all or a portion of the membrane may
comprise a lens that magnifies an image to a user. When the
user touches the image on the membrane 110 and the touch
is transferred to the touch screen, the software in the PDA
may have to compensate for the positional differences
between the image and actual area that was touched by the
user. In another example, if a specific portion of the membrane 110 had a specific optical characteristic, the software
of the PDA may be constructed to display a specific graphic
for the area for an intended effect.
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to another is accomplished by replacing the membrane 110
without having to change any other parts. The present
embodiment may therefore be mass-produced with the only
customizable area being the membrane 110 to allow differ5 ent models of PDAs to be used with a certain front case 102
and rear case 104.
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The hand strap 112 in the present embodiment allows the
user to hold the embodiment 100 securely in his hand while
using the PDA. The hand strap 112 may be constructed of a
flexible material, such as rubber or cloth webbing, and may
have an adjustment, such as a buckle, hook and loop
fastener, or other method of adjustment. In other embodiments, a hand strap may be a rigid plastic handle, a folding
handle, or any other method of assisting the user in holding
the embodiment. Further, the embodiment may be adapted to
be fix-mounted to another object, like a piece of machinery,
a wall, or any other object. A fix-mounted embodiment may
have other accoutrements adapted for fixed-mount applications, such as receptacles for a stylus adapted to a fixedmount, specialized electrical connections, features for locking the PDA inside the case to prevent theft, or designs
specifically adapted to shed water when rained upon.
FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
100 shown in an open position. The front case 102 and rear
case 104 are shown open about the hinge 114. Membrane
110 is shown installed into gasket 106, and the recessed
portion 120 and raised portion 122 of membrane 110 is
illustrated looking from the inside of the case. The clasp
mechanisms are not shown in this illustration. Hand strap
112 is shown attached to rear case 104.
FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
100 shown in an exploded state. The hand strap 116 attaches
to the rear cover 104. The overmolded grommet 106 holds
the stylus 108 and is attached to front cover 102. The
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membrane 110 attaches to the grommet 106 and is held in
place with an o-ring 302.
FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
100 shown from the rear. The hand strap 116 is shown, along
with rear cover 104 and front cover 102. The stylus 108 is
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The membrane 110 in the present embodiment has a
shown inserted into the overmolded grommet 106.
recessed portion 120 and a raised portion 122. The recessed
FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of the embodiment 100. The
portion 120 may be adapted to press flat against the touch
front cover 102, membrane 110, stylus 108, and hinge 114
are all visible.
screen area of a specific PDA. The raised portion 122 may
FIG. 6 illustrates a section view of the embodiment 100
be adapted to fit over an area of the specific PDA where
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several buttons are located.
taken through the section line shown in FIG. 5. The front
The raised portion 122 allows the user to operate the
cover 102, rear cover 104, overmolded gasket 106, stylus
buttons on the PDA. The raised portion 122 is adapted such
108, membrane 110, hand strap 112, and o-ring 302 are all
shown hatched in this view.
that the buttons on the PDA are easily operated through the
FIG. 7 illustrates a detail view of the embodiment 100
protective membrane 110. The raised portion 122 may have
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special features to aid the user in pressing the buttons. For
shown in FIG. 6. Front case 102 and rear case 104 are joined
example, the raised portion 122 may comprise a dimpled
at hinge 114. Overmolded gasket 106 traps membrane 110
area for the user’s finger located directly over the button.
and o-ring 302 locks membrane 110 in place. Overmolded
Further, a feature to aid the user may comprise a section of
gasket 106 may be formed by molding thermoplastic polymerized rubber over the front cover 102.
membrane 110 defined by a thinner area around the section,
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enabling the user to more easily deflect the section of
The replacement of the membrane 110 is accomplished by
membrane over the button. The area of thinner material may
removing o-ring 302, pushing the membrane 110 from the
comprise a large section or a thin line. Further, tactile
overmolded gasket 106, snapping a new membrane 110 into
elements, such as small ribs or bumps may be incorporated
place, and replacing the o-ring 302. The ease of replacement
into the membrane 110 in the area of the buttons so that the
of the present embodiment allows a user to quickly replace
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user has a tactile sensation that the user’s finger is over the
a damaged membrane 110, allows a user to upgrade their
button. The tactile element may be particularly effective if
case to a newer model PDA, and may allow a user to select
the button was a power switch, for example, that turned on
from various membranes 110 for the particular application.
the PDA.
One embodiment may have a single case packaged with a
The configuration of the membrane 110 may be unique to
small variety of several types of membranes 110. In such an
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each style or model of PDA, however, the front case 102 and
embodiment, the user may purchase the packaged set, select
rear case 104 may be used over a variety of PDAs. In the
the membrane 110 that suits the user’s particular PDA, and
install the selected membrane 110 with ease.
present embodiment, the changeover from one PDA variety
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The protective cover of the present invention may have
direct connections through the cover for connecting through
the case. Such a connection is known as pass through. The
connections may be for power, communication, heat dissipation, optical transmissions, mechanical motion, or other
reasons.
spectrum but be translucent or at least partially transparent
in the infrared spectrum of the device.
A protective case may allow RF transmissions to and from
the PDA while the case is closed. Such a case may be
constructed of a non-metallic material. In some embodi-
Electrical connections may require an insulated metal
conductor from the PDA through the wall of the protective
cover so that a flexible cable may be attached or so that the 10
PDA in its protective case may be placed in a cradle for
making the electrical connection. Inside the protective
cover, the electrical connections may be made with a flexible
cable that is plugged into the PDAs electrical connector
before the PDA is secured in the protective cover. Alterna- 15
tively, a fixed connector may be attached to the protective
cover and the PDA is slid into contact with the fixed
connector. Another embodiment may be for a compliant, yet
fixed mounted electrical coimector to be rigidly mounted
inside the protective cover. A compliant, yet fixed mounted
electrical connector may comprise spring loaded probes,
commonly referred to as pogo pins. Another embodiment
may comprise spring fingers that engage the PDAs electrical
contacts. On the outside of the protective cover, the electrical contacts may be terminated into a fix-mounted connector
adapted to receive a cable from a computer. The connector
may be designed to receive a cable that plugs directly into
the PDA or it may be adapted to receive a different connector. Further, the electrical connection to the PDA may be
permanently attached to a cable that extends out of the
protective cover. Another embodiment may be to have a
small trap door that opens in the protective cover to allow
access to the electrical connections. While the trap door
exposes the PDA to the elements the cover is designed to
protect against, a direct electrical connection may eliminate
a potential cabling connection problem. Connections for
fiber optics can be handled in similar fashions as the
electrical connections. An embodiment with a power connection may comprise the use of inductive coils located in
proximity to each other but on opposite sides of the protective cover. Those skilled in the art of may devise other
embodiments for connecting through the protective cover
without deviating from the scope and intent of the present
invention.
Through the air communications, such as infrared and
over the air radio frequency (RF) communications may pass
through the protective cover. The material for the front case
102 and rear case 104 may be selected to be clear plastic,
such as polycarbonate. The infrared transceiver of the PDA
can communicate through a clear plastic case to another
infrared transceiver outside of the case. Further, the appropriate selection of material for the protective case can
thereby enable various RF transmissions, such as cellular
phone communications or other wireless communication
protocols.
An infrared transmission through the protective case of an
embodiment of the invention may be accomplished by
making the entire protective case out of a clear material.
Altematively, a selected area of the protective case may be
clear while the remainder of the case is opaque. The selected
area may be constructed of a separate piece that allows the
infrared light through the protective case. Altematively, the
selected area may be constructed of a portion of the protective case that manufactured in a way so as not to be opaque,
such as selectively not painting or plating the area of a
plastic protective case. Furtl1er, the clear material through
which the transmission occurs may be tinted in the visual
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ments, the material of the protective case may be tuned to
allow certain frequencies to pass through the protective
cover and tune out other frequencies, through loading the
material used in the protective cover with conductive media
or through varying the thickness of the case and other
geometries of the case in the area of the PDA transmission
and reception antenna.
In a different embodiment, it may be desirable to shield
the PDA from outside RF interference. In this case, the
protective cover may be a metallic construction or may be
plastic with a metallized coating. Further, membrane 110
may have a light metallized coating applied so that membrane 110 is slightly or fully conductive. An application for
such an embodiment may be the use of the PDA in an area
of high RF noise that may interfere with the operation of the
PDA, or conversely, the use may be in an area that is highly
susceptible to external RF interference and the PDAs RF
noise may be interfering with some other device.
The PDA may be equipped with a camera or other video
capture device. A protective cover may have provisions to
allow a clear image to be seen by the video capture device
through the case. Such provisions may include an optically
clear insert assembled into the protective case. Other
embodiments may have a sliding trap door whereby the user
of the PDA may slide the door open for the camera to see.
Additionally, other embodiments may comprise a molded
case that has an optically clear lens integrally molded. Such
an embodiment may be additionally painted, plated, or
overrnolded, with the lens area masked so that the painting,
plating, or overrnolding does not interfere with the optics of
the lens.
An optically clear area may be used for a barcode scanner
portion of a PDA to scan through the case to the outside
world. In such an embodiment, a barcode scanner may be
protected from the elements while still maintaining full
functionality in the outside world.
The PDA may have indicator lights that indicate various
items, such as power, battery condition, communication, and
other status items. The indicator lights may be in positions
on the PDA that are not readily viewable through the
protective membrane 110. The indicator lights may be made
visible through the protective case by using light pipes that
transmit the light from the PDAs status light to the outside
of the protective case. Such light pipes may be constructed
of clear or tinted plastic, or other translucent or semitransparent material. The light pipes may be formed as an
integral feature to the protective case or may be separate
parts that are formed separately and assembled to the
protective case.
The PDA may have a speaker or other element that makes
noise and/or the PDA may have a microphone for receiving
audio signals. The speaker may be an audio quality device
for reproducing sound or it may be a simple buzzer for
indicating various functions of the PDA. The microphone
may be an audio quality device or it may be a low performance device. Special provisions may be made for transmitting sound through a protective case. Such provisions
may range from a single hole in the case to a tuned cavity
that would allow sound to pass through with minimum
distortion. Other embodiments may include a transmissive
membrane adapted to allow sound to pass through the
protective case with a minimum of distortion. Such mem-
US 7,312,984 B2
11
12
branes may be located near the speaker and microphone
elements of the PDA. Such membranes may be watertight
membranes known by the brand name Gore-Tex.
The PDA may generate heat during its use and provisions
for dissipating the heat may be built into the protective
cover. A heat-dissipating device may be integral to the
protective cover or may comprise one or more separate
parts. For example, a metallic protective cover may be
adapted to touch the PDA in the area of heat generation and
conduct the heat outwardly to the rest of the protective
cover. The protective cover may thereby dissipate the heat to
the external air without overheating the PDA. In another
example, a separate heat sink may be applied to the PDA and
allowed to protrude through a hole in the protective cover.
The heat sink may thereby transfer the heat from the PDA to
the ambient environment without overheating the PDA. The
heat sinks may be attached to the PDA with a thermally
conductive adhesive. Other embodiments may include vent
holes for heat dissipation and air circulation.
The PDA may have a button that may not be located
undemeath the membrane 110. An embodiment may include
a flexible, pliable, or otherwise movable mechanism that
may transmit mechanical motion from the outside of the
case to a button on the PDA. Such an embodiment may have
a molded dimpled surface that is pliable and allows a user to
activate a button on a PDA by pressing the dimpled surface.
Another embodiment may have a rigid plunger that is
mounted on a spring and adapted to transmit the mechanical
movement from the exterior of the case to a button on the
logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the cover
904. Altematively, different colors, logos, and designs may
be applied in a secondary operation such as printing, painting, plating, or other application process.
Embodiment 900 may be attached by snapping the cover
902 onto PDA 904. Special provisions in the case of PDA
904 may be provided for a snapping feature of cover 902, or
cover 902 may be adapted to hold onto PDA 904 without the
use of special features in PDA 904.
The features used to secure cover 902 to PDA 904 may be
any mechanism whereby the cover 902 can be secured. This
includes snapping, clamping, fastening, sliding, gluing,
adhering, or any other method for securing two components
together.
FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment
of a receiver 1002 for holding the protective case 100. The
protective case 100 is held into receiver 1002 in such a
manner that the touch screen display is facing into the
receiver 1002, to afford the touch screen display with
protection.
FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment
of a receiver 1002 shown from the opposite side as FIG. 10.
Receiver 1002 is comprised of a back 1102, a belt clip
mechanism 1104, and four clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and
1112. The protective case 100 is placed into the receiver
1002 by inserting one end into the receiver, then rotating the
protective case 100 into position such that the snapping
action of clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 are engaged
to hold protective case 100 securely.
Receiver 1002 may be adapted to clip onto a person’s belt
or may be adapted to be mounted on a wall or other location
where the PDA may be stored. The orientation of the
protective case 100 is such that the touch screen element of
the PDA is protected during normal transport and storage,
since the touch screen interface is facing the back 1102 of
the receiver 1002.
PDA. The buttons on the PDA may be located on any side
of the PDA and an embodiment of a case may have pliable
areas adapted to allow the user to press buttons that are not
on the front face of the PDA.
10
15
20
25
30
FIG. 8 is an illustration of embodiment 800 of the present
35
invention wherein the PDA 802 is encapsulated by a protective cover 804. The installation of the PDA 802 is to slide
PDA 802 into the opening 808, then fold door 806 closed
Receiver 1002 may be made of compliant plastic that
and secure with flap 810, which is hinged along line 812.
allows the clip areas 1106, 1108, 1110, and 1112 to move out
Areas 814 and 816 may comprise a hook and loop fastener
of the way and spring back during insertion or removal of
40
system or other fastening device. Recessed area 818 is
the protective case 100. In the present embodiment, receiver
adapted to fit against touch screen 820 of PDA 802.
1002 may be constructed of a single part. In alternative
Embodiment 800 may be comprised of a single molded
embodiments, receiver 1002 may be constructed of multiple
plastic part that may be very low cost. As shown, embodiparts and of multiple materials, such as a metal back with
ment 800 may not be completely weathertight, since the
spring loaded clips. In other embodiments, special features
45
door 806 does not completely seal the enclosure. However,
may be included in the protective case 100 where the
such an embodiment may afford considerable protection to
receiver 1002 may engage a special feature for securing the
the PDA 802 in the areas of dust protection, scratch protecprotective case 100.
tion, and being occasionally rained upon. Further, the low
FIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment 1200 of the present
cost of the embodiment 800 may be changed often during
invention of a protective cover for a PDA or other device. A
50
the life of the PDA 802.
rigid front cover 1202 and a rigid rear cover 1204 are held
Embodiment 800 may have custom colors, logos, or
together with a series oflatches 1206, 1208, 1210, and 1212.
designs that allow a user to personalize their PDA with a
The protective membrane 1214 protects the touchscreen of
specific cover that is suited to their mood or tastes. The
the enclosed PDA. A folding rigid cover 1216 operates as a
colors, logos, and designs may be integrally molded into the
rigid shield to prevent the membrane 1214 from any dam55
cover 804. Alternatively, different colors, logos, and designs
age. The stylus holder 1220 is formed from an overmolded
flexible material in which the membrane 1214 is mounted.
may be applied in a secondary operation such as printing,
painting, plating, or other application process.
Embodiment 1200 illustrates yet another embodiment of
FIG. 9 is an illustration of embodiment 900 of the present
the present invention wherein a rigid protective cover may
invention wherein a decorative cover 902 is snapped over a
be used to contain and protect an electronic device, but
60
PDA 904. The ends 906 and 908 snap over the PDA ends
provide full usable access to a touchscreen. The protective
910 and 912 as an attachment mechanism for cover 902 to
membrane 1214 and case may be watertight in some
embodiments.
PDA 904. Recessed area 914 is adapted to fit against touch
screen 916.
FIG. 13A illustrates an embodiment of a protective encloEmbodiment 900 may be a cover for decorative purposes
sure 1300 that encloses and protects a tablet PC 1302. PDAs
65
that have touch screens, as described above, have an interonly, or may be for protective purposes as well. Cover 902
may be emblazoned with logos, designs, or other visual
active flat-panel control, i.e., the touch screen display. Tablet
embellishments to personalize the PDA 904. The colors,
PCs are portable electronic computing devices that have a
US 7,312,984 B2
13
14
high-resolution interactive flat-panel control that accepts
tablet PC’s utilize a stylus which transmits strokes to the PC
smooth stylus strokes such as handwriting. The embodiment
by way of radio frequency transmission. Protective screen
of FIG. 13A is crush-resistant, impact-resistant, watertight,
membrane 1306 may be made of a rigid, clear, engineered
and simultaneously allows interactive stylus strokes and
thermoplastic such as, for example, thermoplastic polycarother sensitive user inputs to be accurately and easily
bonate or other thermoplastics as described above, for
transmitted through a protective screen membrane 1306 to
enclosing a tablet PC. A protective screen membrane 1306
the interactive flat-panel control of tablet PC 1302.
that is rigid may include watertight access ports that allow
A watertight and shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310
operation of mechanical buttons or switches of the tablet PC
may be fixed and sealed to the underside of the lid 1304
1302, such as, for example, control buttons 1308. The
10
around the interactive flat-panel control opening. The prowatertight access ports may include holes that have a
tective screen membrane 1306 is fixed and sealed to the
moveable watertight plug, or any type of watertight button
shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310. The shock-absorbing
or lever. Protective screen membrane 1306 may include an
foam cushion 1310 maintains the watertightness of the
anti-glare coating or can be made with an anti-glare texture
enclosure. The cushion 1310 also cushions the flat-panel
so that display images are clearly viewable without distor15
control of the tablet PC 1302 and protects it against breakage
tion through the protective screen membrane 1306.
if the enclosure and tablet PC are dropped or otherwise
In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the lid 1304 of the
subjected to shock. In accordance with the embodiment of
protective enclosure 1300 may have an extemal stylus
FIG. 13A, the shock-absorbing foam cushion 1310 has a
holder 1324 that securely holds a stylus used with the tablet
PC 1302.
thickness of approximately 0.25 inches and extends approxi20
mately 0.060 inches below the underside of the interactive
As described above with respect to FIG. 1, the lid 1304
flat-panel control opening of the lid 1304. One source of
and the base 1312 may have air-permeable watertight vents
suitable watertight shock-absorbing foam is E.A.R. Spe1318, 1326 that permit the cooling fans of the tablet PC 1302
cialty Composites of 7911 Zionville Rd., Indianapolis, Ind.
to force air exchange to dissipate heat by convection so that
46268. Cushion 1310 allows the protective screen mem25 the tablet PC 1302 does not overheat. Watertight vents 1318,
brane to move a distance of up to 0.125 inches during an
1326 may comprise holes in the lid 1304 and base 1312 that
impact to the enclosure or when pressure is applied to
are made watertight by covering and sealing the holes with
protect membrane 1306 while pushing the tablet PC control
an air-permeable watertight membrane such as, for example,
buttons 1308 or writing on the interactive flat-panel control
a fabricated expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE)
with a stylus through the membrane. The shock-absorbing
30 membrane. One source that fabricated expanded polytetfoam cushion 1310 also pushes the protective screen memrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes is available from is W.
brane 1306 flatly against the surface of the interactive
L. Gore & Associates, Inc. of 555 Paperrnill Road, Newark,
flat-panel control of the tablet PC 1302 so that sensitive user
Del. 1971 1 .
stylus strokes and other inputs are accurately transmitted.
The embodiment of FIG. 13A may also comprise a pod
The pressure of the cushion 1310 on the protective screen
35 door 1322 that allows access to table PC interfaces such as,
membrane 1306 which holds the protective screen memfor example, PCMCIA or Smart Card slots. The pod door
brane 1306 flatly against the interactive flat-panel control of
1322 is attached to the lid 1304 so that it may be removed
the tablet PC 1302 also keeps display images, viewed
or opened. In the embodiment of FIG. 13A, the pod door
through the protective screen membrane, clear and distor1322 is hingedly connected to a portion of the base 1312 at
tion-free. In embodiments of the protective enclosure to
40 a location of the base 1312 that has an opening that allows
protect a touch-screen device, the protective membrane may
access to the tablet PC interfaces. The opening can be
be adjacent to the touch screen but does not exert mechanical
covered by a watertight seal 1320, such as, for example, an
pressure on the touch screen so that mechanical inputs such
O-ring that is part of pod door 1322.
as style strokes are sensed only when intended. In embodiThe underside of the lid 1304 also has a watertight seal,
ments of the protective enclosure to protect a tablet PC that
45 such as an O-ring, so that when compound latches 1328,
has an RF stylus or to protect a handheld device that a
1330, 1332 and 1334 are closed, the O-ring or seal of the lid
capacitance-sensing interactive flat-panel control, the pro1304 forms a watertight seal against the base 1312. The
tective membrane may be pressed flat against the interactive
protective enclosure 1300 protects the tablet PC 1302 from
flat-panel control which allows undistorted viewing but does
water and dust intrusion sufficient to comply with Ingress
not adversely affect the control since the interactive control
50 Protection (IP) rating of IP 67, i.e., the protective enclosure
uses capacitance or radio frequencies for interactive input
totally protects the enclosed tablet PC from dust and protects
instead of mechanical pressure.
the enclosed tablet PC from the effects of immersion in one
The protective screen membrane 1306 in the embodiment
meter of water for 30 minutes.
of FIG. 13A is at least partially transparent and has a
thickness of approximately 0.010 inches. The thickness of
The protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
55
the protective screen membrane 1306 should be typically in
may further comprise protective overmolding 1316 attached
the range of 0.001 inches to 0.020 inches so that stylus
to the lid 1304. A similar overmolding may be attached to the
strokes on the upper surface of protective screen membrane
base 1312. The protective overmolding 1316 may be made
1306 are transmitted accurately to the interactive flat-panel
of material that is easily gripped in slippery conditions and
control of the tablet PC 1302. Likewise, protective screen
provides additional shock absorption such as, for example,
60
membrane 1306 may be flexible or semi-rigid and may be
rubber or silicone. The protective overmolding 1316 extends
made of polyvinylchloride or other suitable transparent
above the surface of the lid in pre-determined areas to
thermoplastic, such as, for example, polyvinylchloride, therprovide protrusions that are easily gripped even in slippery
moplastic polycarbonate, thermoplastic polypropylene, therconditions. The protective enclosure of the embodiment of
moplastic acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, thermoplastic
FIG. 13 may further comprise watertight plugs such as
65
polyurethane, which has a hardness and texture that permits
access port plug 1314 that fit snugly into openings in the
the stylus to smoothly glide across the surface without
base 1312 that provide access to various interfaces, connecters and slots of the tablet PC 1302.
skipping, grabbing, or catching against the surface. Some
US 7,312,984 B2
15
FIG. 13B illustrates a shell lid 1304 of the embodiment of
16
which is compressed against an O-ring in the protective
enclosure lid to provide a watertight seal when compound
latches 1628, 1630, 1632, 1634 are closed onto the lid.
Intemal bumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 attach to the
interior corners of protective enclosure base 1600 to provide
cushion and mechanical shock protection to an enclosed
tablet PC. The L-shape and non-solid interior of intemal
bumpers 1602, 1604, 1608, 1610 allows the bumpers to
deflect and absorb the shock if the enclosed tablet PC is
FIG. 13A. Shell lid 1304 and base 1312 may be made of
impact/crush resistant material such as glass-fiber reinforced
engineered thermoplastic, such as for example, glass reinforced polycarbonate. Alternatively, the shell lid 1304 and
shell base may be made of thermoplastic polycarbonate,
thermoplastic polypropylene, thermoplastic acrylonitrilebutadiene-styrene, and thermoplastic compositions containing one or more thereof, or other engineered thermoplastics
10
that provide a shock-resistant and impact resistant shell may
dropped or otherwise subjected to mechanical shock. The
be used. The engineered thermoplastics may be reinforced
protective enclosure provides shock absorption sufficient to
meet MIL-STD 8l0F, Method 516.5, Procedure 4 which is
with glass fibers, carbon fibers, metal fibers, polyarnide
fibers and mixtures thereof. Shell lid 1304 may be further
a Transit Drop Test. In the Transit Drop Test, the protective
reinforced with stilfeners 1334, 1336, 1338, 1340 that are
enclosure encloses a tablet PC or a mass equivalent to a
15
integrally embedded into the shell lid around the perimeter
tablet PC. The protective enclosure is sequentially dropped
of an opening in the shell that is directly over the interactive
onto each face, edge and corner for a total of 26 drops over
flat-panel control portion of the tablet PC. The stilfeners
plywood from a height of 48 inches. The protective enclomade be made of steel or other hard material so that the
sure is visually inspected after each drop and a functional
stilfeners provide additional strength and prevent flexing of
check for leakage is performed after all drops are completed.
20
the lid 1304 which enhances the watertightness and the
Some tablet PCs have a docking connector disposed on
the underside of the tablet PC so that the tablet PC can
impact/crush resistance.
FIG. 14 is an illustration of the embodiment of FIG. 13A
connect to power and signals. For example, emergency
with the lid 1404 detached from the base 1412. To protect
vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, or patrol cars, may
the tablet PC 1402 using the protective enclosure 1400, the
have a docking station installed near the driver’s seat onto
25
tablet PC 1402 is disposed to fit snugly into the base 1412.
which the driver may dock a tablet PC. The embodiment of
The lid is oriented so that hooks 1436, 1438 area aligned
protective enclosure base 1600, as illustrated in FIG. 1, may
with pin 1440 that is connected to a portion of the base 1412
comprise a docking connector charmel 1624 that is recessed
and the lid is closed so that hooks 1436, 1438 are retained
with respect to the upper surface of the base that allows a
by pin 1440. Compound latches 1428, 1430, 1432, 1434 are
docking connector to run from a docking connector that is
30
then snapped onto the lid so that the lid is compressed tightly
disposed in the center underside of the tablet PC to access
against the base providing a watertight seal.
port 1626. Alternatively, a docking pass-through connector
FIG. 15 is a bottom view of the embodiment of FIG. 13.
1620 may be made an integral and watertight part of the
The base 1516 of protective enclosure 1500 includes waterprotective enclosure base 1600 so that the tablet PC docking
tight vents such as watertight vent 1506 for air exchange to
connector attaches to the docking pass-through connector
35
permit heat and sound dissipation from the enclosed tablet
1620 which, in tum, connects to the docking station in
PC while at the same time maintaining watertightness.
substantially the same manner as an unenclosed tablet PC.
Pod release knobs 1512, 1518 are attached to the base
FIG. 17 illustrates another embodiment of protective
enclosure 1700 for a handheld electronic device 1702 that
1516 so that the knobs can be rotated clockwise to securely
wedge against an edge of pod door 1522 to close the pod
has an interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic
40
door 1522 tightly against a rim around an the pod opening
devices that have an interactive flat-panel control benefit
in base 1516 to create a watertight seal. Knobs 1512, 1518
from being enclosed in a rugged protective enclosure that is
can be rotated counter-clockwise to release pod door 1522 to
crush-resistant, watertight and shock-resistant and that
access the interfaces of the tablet PC covered by pod door
simultaneously allows the user to interact with a sensitive
1522.
interactive flat-panel control. Handheld electronic devices
45
To provide additional protection against mechanical
that have interactive flat-panel control may include music
shock, heavy-duty comer bumpers such as bumper 1504
players, MP3 players, audio player/recorders, and video
may be securely attached to the corners of base 1516.
players. For example, Apple Computer’s iPod player is a
As shown in FIG. 15, an adjustable heavy-duty handle
popular handheld interactive device that plays MP3 or
may be attached to the base 1516 of the protective enclosure
otherwise digitally-encoded music/audio. The Apple iPod
50
1500 to allow easy and reliable transportation of the proplayer has an interactive flat-panel control in which a portion
tective enclosure 1500 that encloses a tablet PC. In some
of the front panel is a flat-panel display and portion of the
circumstances, it is convenient to hold the protective enclofront panel is an interactive flat-panel control, called a touch
wheel in some versions of the iPod and click wheel in other
sure using hand strap 1514 that is made of strong slightly
stretchable fabric. Hand strap 1514 attaches to four points of
versions of the iPod, that has capacitive touch/proximity
the base 1516 to that a user’s hand or wrist can be inserted 55 sensors. One function of the interactive flat-panel control,
along the either the longer or shorted length on the protective
i.e. touch wheel, emulates a rotary control knob by sensing
enclosure 1500 and enclosure tablet PC. Hand strap 1514
circular motion of a user’s finger using capacitive sensors.
The click wheel has the same function with the additional
may be made of neoprene or other strong stretchable material to securely hold the protective enclosure to the user’s
feature of sensing proximity of a user’s finger and emulating
60
arm even in slippery conditions. The protective enclosure
button presses by a user’s finger at predetermined areas.
In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the shell lid 1706 and the
may further include a neck strap to provide a comfortable
solution for using the tablet PC while standing.
shell base 1704 are made of polycarbonate or other engiFIG. 16 illustrates a top view of the protective enclosure
neered thermoplastics that are crush-resistant and impact
base 1600. Watertight vents such as watertight vent 1616
resistant. Shell base 1704 has a watertight seal 1718, which
65
allow air exchange for heat dissipation and sound transmismay be an overmolded gasket, o-ring, liner or other seal that
sion from an enclosed tablet PC. Seal rim 1614 is an
prevents water from entering the protective enclosure 1700
when the handheld interactive device 1702 is enclosed
integrally formed part of the protective enclosure 1600
US 7,312,984 B2
17
18
inside the protective enclosure 1700. Shell base 1704 and
Total capacitance between an object, such as a finger
shell lid 1706 may include watertight vents, electrical contouching the protective control membrane 1708, and internectors, see-through areas or features as disclosed with
active flat-panel control 1712 is a fi.1nction of the thickness
respect to FIG. 1.
and the dielectric constant of the protective control memIn the embodiment of FIG. 17, shell lid 1706 includes
brane 1708. The capacitance between the object, such as a
apertures over predetermined portions of the handheld interfinger, and the capacitive sensors of the interactive flat-panel
active device 1702, such as the areas directly over the
control 1712 is proportional to the distance between the
display screen 1714 and the interactive flat-panel control
object and the sensors. The sensitivity of the capacitive
1712, or other designated areas as desired. A protective
sensors to the object may be diminished or completely
10
screen membrane 1710 that is at least partially transparent is
eliminated if the protective control membrane 1708 is too
thick. In the embodiment of FIG. 17, the thickness of the
permanently or removably fixed in a watertight marmer to
the underside of shell lid 1706 in the aperture that is over the
protective control membrane is approximately 0.020 inches.
display screen 1714. The protective screen membrane 1710
The protective control membrane 1708 may be any thickis recessed with respect to the upper surface of the shell lid
ness in the range of 0.003 inches to 0.020 inches that is
15
1706 which provides a protective elevated rim that protects
adequate to provide a rugged watertight membrane through
the display screen 1714 from breakage. Protective screen
which capacitance can be correctly sensed by the interactive
membrane 1710 may be PVC, silicone or other material that
flat-panel control 1712.
is watertight and rugged. In the case that display screen 1714
The upper surface of the protective control membrane
is a touch screen, the protective screen membrane 1710
1708 has a velvet/matte texture with a texture depth of
20 0.0004 to 0.003 inches that reduces the surface area of the
should be smooth enough and thin enough that stylus strokes
and other inputs are transmitted accurately to the touch
membrane that is in frictional contact with the user’s finger
screen as disclosed above with respect to FIG. 1, FIG. 12,
and permits a user’s finger to glide rapidly upon the surface
and FIG. 13.
of the membrane without catching or sticking as a result of
In accordance with the embodiment of FIG. 17, a protecthe reduced friction. The hardness of the polycarbonate
25
tive control membrane 1708 is permanently or removably
material, or other hard engineered thermoplastic, also
reduces the friction.
fixed in a watertight manner to the underside of shell lid
1706 in an aperture that is over the interactive flat-panel
Headphones or other accessories may be electrically
control 1714 of the handheld device 1702. The protective
connected to handheld device 1702 the through the protecscreen membrane 1710 is recessed with respect to the upper
tive enclosure 1700 by disposing the wire of the headphone
30
surface of the shell lid 1706 which provides protective
or accessory in an insertable gasket 1716 which fits snugly
into one end of the shell base 1704.
elevated rim that protects the display screen 1714 from
breakage and provides tactile feedback that guides a user’s
FIG. 18 illustrates another embodiment of protective
finger to the desired area even in slippery conditions.
enclosure 1800 which is substantially the same as protective
Interactive flat-panel control 1712 has capacitive sensors
enclosure 1700 of FIG. 17. However, protective enclosure
35
which are part of a proximity/touch detector circuit. When a
1800 has an alternative electrical pass-through for accessories. In the embodiment of FIG. 18, shell base 1804 includes
grounded object, such as a person’s finger, which has free air
capacitance of several hundred picofarads, is brought close
an adapter cable 1816 that has an adapter plug 1812 at one
to the capacitive sensors, the total capacitance measured by
end which plugs into a jack of handheld device 1802. At the
the detector circuit increases because the capacitance of the
other end of the adapter cable 1816 is an adapter jack 1814
40
object with free air capacitance adds to the capacitance of
that is molded into, or otherwise integrally made part of,
the sensors since the total capacitance of two capacitors in
shell base 1804. An external accessory, such as a pair of
parallel is additive. Multiple sensors may also be arranged so
headphones, may then be plugged into the adapter jack 1814
that movement of an object with free air capacitance can be
while the handheld device 1802 in enclosed in protective
detected, for example, movement of a person’s finger in a
enclosure 1800. Altematively, a one-piece adapter that
45
circular motion analogous to turning a mechanical control
includes both a jack 1814 and a plug 1812 without a cable
knob. Some examples of interactive flat-panel controlled
1816 may be integrally disposed into shell base 1804.
PDA’s include iPod and iPod Mini music and audio players
Shell lid 1806 is adapted to retain an O-ring 1808 that
from Apple Computer. In some PDAs, such as the Apple
seals the protective enclosure 1800 when shell lid 1806 is
iPod, capacitive sensors may be disposed below a front
latched tightly onto shell base 1804 so that water cannot
50
panel made from a dielectric such as polycarbonate which
enter protective enclosure 1800.
has a dielectric constant in the range of 2.2-3.8. In the
FIG. 19A is an oblique view of another embodiment of a
embodiment of FIG. 17, the protective control membrane
protective enclosure 1900 for an interactive flat-panel con1708 is made of thin polycarbonate that is slightly flexible,
trol device. The protective enclosure 1900 has an intemal
or other engineered thermoplastics that provide the rugged
plug 1902 that electrically connects to an extemal jack 1914
55
watertight protection and at the same time permit the capacito form an integrated electrical pass-through. The internal
tive sensors of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
plug 1902 and the extemal jack 1914 may be offset from
function correctly. Likewise, a protective control membrane
each other and disposed side-by-side to minimize the length
1708 with a dielectric constant that is too high may retain an
of the protective enclosure 1900.
electric charge long enough to reduce the response rate of
Protective enclosure 1900 includes an upper shell 1906
60
the sensor to motion of a user’s finger from one capacitive
that has a protective membrane 1916 that allows the handheld electronic device to be viewed and controlled. Recessed
sensor zone of the interactive flat-panel control 1712 to
area 1918 is textured to minimize friction between a user’s
another. A protective control membrane 1708 that is conductive or has a dielectric constant that is too low may
finger and the protective membrane 1916.
diminish the sensitivity of the capacitive sensor by combinUpper shell 1906 is hingedly connected to lower shell
65
ing in series the capacitance of the protective membrane and
1908. Hinge pivot stops 1920 and 1922 form part of lower
the dielectric front panel of the PDA which results in a
shell 1908. Hinge pivot stops 1920 and 1922 have a beveled
lowering of the overall capacitance.
side that allows upper shell 1906 to open to a maximum
US 7,312,984 B2
19
20
pivot angle of approximately 30 degrees with respect to
surface of the upper shell which inhibits the upper shell from
lower shell 1908 at which point the hinge pivot stops 1920
opening wider. The maximum pivot angle protects the
and 1922 abut a flat surface of upper shell 1906 inhibiting
internal plug 2002 from being broken olf or damaging the
upper shell 1906 from opening wider. The maximum pivot
socket of the handheld electronic device during the process
angle protects the intemal plug 1902 from being broken olf 5 of inserting or removing the handheld electronic device to or
and protects the jack of the handheld electronic device from
from the enclosure. By restricting the angle at which the
handheld electronic device can be inserted or removed from
being damaged by restricting the angle of the handheld
electronic device with respect to the lower shell during
the enclosure, the maximum flexure of the plug 2002 is
insertion or removal of the handheld electronic device.
limited. As indicated above, the angle of the opening is
10
An interactive handheld electronic device may be
restricted by controlling the maximum angle of the upper
enclosed in protective enclosure 1900 and the upper shell
shell with respect to the lower shell 2008. Flexure of the
1906 may be closed and latch 1910 may be closed so that
internal plug 2002 is provided by surrounding the plug with
protective enclosure 1900 is submersibly watertight, thus
an elastomer having a modulus of elasticity that allows the
protecting the handheld electronic device from water and
plug to both flex adequately to prevent damage to the plug
15
from crushing forces or impact. Watertight, crush-resistant
and the supporting structure of the plug, and to prevent
protective enclosure 1900 simultaneously enables interacdamage to the socket of the handheld electronic device,
tion with the handheld electronic device via the protective
while maintaining the plug substantially stationary and
membrane and via an electrical interface. For example, an
sufficiently secure to allow the handheld electronic device to
Apple iPod may be inserted into the protective enclosure
be easily aligned, inserted, and removed from the enclosure.
20
1900 with intemal plug 1902 which is a 3.5-mm stereo plug
Extemal jack 2014 is electrically connected to intemal
that inserts into the headphone jack of the iPod. Headphones
plug 2002 by cable 2004 which may be soldered or otheror other accessories can then be inserted into the external
wise securely connected to the terminals of external jack
jack 1914 that is a 3.5-mm stereo jack, which allows
2014 and intemal plug 2002. Cable 2004 may be a set of
individual wires, a ribbon cable, or a co-axial cable, as
electrical contact of the headphones or accessories to the
25
iPod while the enclosure is closed and in a submersibly
desired, depending on the type of extemal jack 2014 and
watertight state. Any type of intemal and extemal plugs and
internal plug 2002 that are used. Various types of cables and
jacks may be used to accommodate other interfaces.
connectors may be used for various interface signal levels,
FIG. 19B is another view of the embodiment of FIG. 19A.
protocols and frequencies.
The upper shell of 1906 is hingedly connected to the lower
FIG. 21 illustrates an elastomeric covering 2104 that
30
shell 1908 by hinge 1912. The body of the intemal plug 1902
covers and substantially surrounds a portion of internal plug
and the external jack 1914 are substantially surrounded and
2102 and a portion external jack 2014 (shown in FIG. 20) so
sealed by elastomeric covering 1904 so that no liquid may
that intemal plug 2102 and extemal jack 2014 are held in
enter the protective enclosure 1900 through openings or
place within lower shell 2108 by an elastomeric covering
gaps in or around internal plug 1902 and external jack 1914
2104. Elastomeric covering 2104 may be made of thermo35
resulting in the protective enclosure being submersibly
plastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic rubber (TPR) or
watertight when closed. The elastomeric covering 1904 may
other materials that have elastomeric properties as described
be made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic
above. Elastomeric covering 2104 may be formed by varirubber (TPR) or other soft rubber-like materials. The flexous processing including overrnolding and two-shot moldibility of the elastomeric covering 1904 allows internal plug
ing. The elastomeric properties of elastomeric covering
1902 to tilt to some extent to facilitate insertion and removal 40 2104 allows intemal plug 2102 to tilt so that it may be easily
of an interactive handheld electronic device without breakinserted into a corresponding jack of the handheld electronic
ing the electrical connection and without damaging the
device and easily removed from the handheld electronic
elastomeric covering 1904 or the protective enclosure 1900.
device jack, while at the same time providing a submersibly
FIG. 20 is a view of the lower shell of the protective
watertight seal when the handheld electronic device is
45
enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 19A with the inteenclosed within the protective enclosure.
grated watertight electrical pass-through connector exposed.
FIG. 22 illustrates hinge pivot stops 2220 and 2222 of the
The external jack 2014 may be of a size such that an aperture
protective enclosure 2200 of FIG. 19 in the open position at
2010 in the lower shell 2008 is helpful in accommodating
a maximum angle. At the maximum angle, hinge pivot stops
and positioning external jack 2014. For example, external
2220 and 2222 of the lower shell 2208 abut against a portion
50
jack 2014 may be disposed within aperture 2010 of lower
of upper shell 2206 which inhibits the upper shell 2206 from
shell 2008 so that an upper part of external jack 2014 is
opening wider.
FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the lower shell 2300 of the
disposed within lower shell 2008 and a lower part of external
jack extends below lower shell 2008. Lower shell 2008 may
protective enclosure of the embodiment of FIG. 19A having
optionally contain a substructure 2006 over which an elasa single external jack 2302. Elastomeric covering 2304
55
tomeric covering may be formed. Internal plug 2002 is
protects external jack 2302 and holds it in place within the
disposed within lower shell 2008 so that internal plug 2002
lower shell 2300 of the protective enclosure.
aligns with a corresponding jack of the handheld electronic
FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the protective enclosure 2400
device.
having two external jacks 2402 and 2406. Elastomeric
Hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 form part of lower shell
covering 2404 protects external jacks 2302 and 2306 and
60
2008. Hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 have a beveled side
holds them in place within the lower shell of protective
that allows an upper shell to open to a maximum pivot angle
enclosure 2300. Two extemal jacks 2402 and 2406 may be
that corresponds to a maximum desired angle with respect to
connected electrically in parallel to an intemal plug which in
the lower shell 2008 so that the handheld electronic device
turn may be connected to a headphone jack of an interactive
may be inserted while connecting to internal plug 2002. In
handheld electronic device such as an Apple iPod. A first
65
the embodiment of FIG. 19A, the angle is approximately 30
pair of headphones or earbuds 2408 may then be connected
degrees with respect to lower shell 2008 at which point the
to extemal jack 2402 and a second set of headphones or
beveled side of hinge pivot stops 2020 and 2022 abut a flat
earbuds 2410 may be simultaneously connected to extemal
US 7,312,984 B2
21
22
jack 2406 thus allowing two users to listen to the one iPod
simultaneously, for example, when riding together on a ski
lift, or in a raft.
The foregoing description of the invention has been
presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is
not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the
FIG. 25 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip 2502 for the protective enclosure 2500 of the embodiment of FIG. 19A with the belt clip 2502 attached to the
protective enclosure 2500. Cable management belt clip 2502
allows protective enclosure 2500 to conveniently attach to a
users belt. Cable management belt clip includes a flange
2504 around which a cable 2516 of a pair of earbuds or other
cabled interface devices may be wrapped to prevent tangling. For example, an iPod user may wrap a pair of earbuds
2512 around cable management belt clip 2502 and toss the
assembly into a backpack or the glove box of a vehicle in
order to prevent the cable 2516 from becoming entangled.
Then, when the user is ready to ski, raft or dive, the earbuds
2512 may be unwound from the cable management belt clip
2502 and placed into the user’s ears so that the user can
enjoy listening to the iPod, while participating in an activity
that requires protection of the iPod from water, shock, or
other potential damage.
FIG. 26 illustrates a removable cable management belt
clip 2602 for the protective enclosure 2600 of the embodiment of FIG. 19A with the belt clip removed. In some cases
it may be desirable to disconnect cable management belt clip
2602 from the protective enclosure 2600. Cable management belt clip 2606 has a pair of glides that slide onto rails
2610 that are connected to a back side of protective enclosure 2600. A clip release 2606 on cable management belt
clip 2602 may be deflected away from retainer 2608 which
allows cable management belt clip 2602 to slide away from
protective enclosure 2600.
Awatertight protective enclosure is therefore provided for
handheld electronic devices that is simple and easy to use
and provides a high degree of protection from water, shock
or other damage. An external jack is electronically connected to an internal plug in the enclosure, but is otherwise
isolated from the intemal portion of the enclosure so that
external electrical devices such as earphones and other
accessories can be used to access the handheld electrical
precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be possible in light of the above teachings. The
embodiment was chosen and described in order to best
explain the principles of the invention and its practical
application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best
utilize the invention in various embodiments and various
10
except insofar as limited by the prior art.
What is claimed is:
15
20
25
30
35
40
device by plugging into the external jack, while still maintaining the isolation of the handheld electronic device in the
enclosure and maintaining the watertight features of the
45
enclosure. The enclosure has a top shell that is limited as to
the angle at which it can pivot to an open position which
limits the angle at which the handheld electronic device can
be inserted into and removed from the enclosure. An internal
plug is mounted in a flexible elastomeric material which
allows the plug to flex so that the handheld electronic device
can be easily mated with the plug during insertion of the
handheld electronic device into the enclosure and easily
removed from the enclosure without flexing the intemal plug
beyond the limited access angle provided by the restricted
angle of opening of the top shell of the enclosure. This
beneficial feature allows the handheld device to be easily
inserted and removed in the enclosure without damage to
either the intemal plug or the jack on the handheld electronic
device. The external jack a11d the intemal plug are offset
from one another so that the length of the entire case is
minimized. In addition, additional extemal jacks can be
provided so that more than one accessory can be plugged
into the handheld electronic device simultaneously. In addition, a belt clip is provided that has a flange for winding the
cord of an accessory, such as the cord for earbuds, around
the flange to hold the wiring in a secure marmer when not in
use.
modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed
to include other altemative embodiments of the invention
50
55
60
65
1. A protective enclosure for a handheld electronic device
having an interactive control panel comprising:
an upper shell and a lower shell that are hingedly connected, said upper shell and said lower shell enclosing
said handheld electronic device, said handheld electronic device being a separate unit from said protective
enclosure, said handheld electronic device being insertable in and removable from said enclosure by hand,
said shell being substantially submersibly watertight
when closed, said enclosure having at least one hinge
pivot stop that constrains opening of said upper shell to
a maximum predetermined angle;
a protective membrane connected to said upper shell, said
membrane being sufliciently thin to permit smooth
interactive tactile control of said control panel of said
handheld electronic device;
an adapter disposed within said protective enclosure, said
adapter having an internal connector that is capable of
electrically connecting to said handheld electronic
device, said adapter having an external connector that
is capable of being electrically connected to an accessory for said handheld electronic device, said intemal
connector being electrically connected to said extemal
connector so that when said accessory is electrically
connected to said extemal connector said accessory is
also electrically connected to said intemal connector
and to said handheld electronic device; and
an elastomeric covering that covers and substantially
surrounds said internal connector and said extemal
connector of said adapter, said elastomeric covering
holding said intemal connector and said external connector in place within said protective enclosure, said
elastomeric covering permitting said internal connector
to tilt within a predetermined range of angles so that
said internal connector easily connects to said handheld
electronic device when said handheld electronic device
is inserted into said protective enclosure within said
predetermined range of angles, said elastomeric covering maintaining said protective enclosure substantially submersibly watertight when said handheld electronic device is enclosed within said protective
enclosure.
2. The protective enclosure of claim 1 further comprising:
a belt clip that attaches to a back side of said protective
enclosure, said back side of said protective enclosure
being opposite said protective membrane, said belt clip
having a deflectable clip release that engages with a
retainer that is connected to said back side of said
protective enclosure so that when said clip release is
not deflected said belt clip securely attaches to said
protective enclosure, said belt clip being releasable
from said enclosure by deflecting said clip release so
that it disengages from said retainer, said belt clip
US 7,312,984 B2
23
having a flange around which a user may wind a cable
of an accessory of said handheld electronic device
around said belt clip, said flange retaining said cable
close to said enclosure and preventing said cable from
becoming entangled.
3. The enclosure of claim 2 wherein said enclosure has an
elevated protective rim substantially surrounding a perimeter edge of said interactive flat-panel control.
4. The enclosure of claim 3 wherein said enclosure is 10
made of a rigid material and wherein said enclosure substantially surrounds said handheld electronic device and
wherein said enclosure is larger that said handheld electronic
device so that said enclosure is crush-resistant and said
enclosure substantially protects said handheld electronic 15
device from breakage caused by crushing forces.
5. A protective enclosure for a handheld electronic device
having an interactive control panel comprising:
at least two shell members that are hingedly connected, 20
that enclose said handheld electronic device, said handheld electronic device being a separate unit from said
protective enclosure, said handheld electronic device
being insertable in and removable from said enclosure
by hand, said shell members forming said protective 25
enclosure and being substantially submersibly watertight when closed;
24
a protective membrane connected to at least one of said
shell members, said membrane allowing tactile control
of said control panel of said handheld electronic device;
an internal connector that connects to said handheld
electronic device when said handheld device is inserted
in said protective enclosure;
an extemal connector that connects to an accessory for
said handheld electronic device and said internal connector so that said accessory can be connected to said
handheld electronic device through said protective
case; and
an elastomeric covering that covers and substantially
surrounds said internal connector and said extemal
connector, said elastomeric covering holding said internal connector and said extemal connector in place in
said protective enclosure, said elastomeric covering
permitting said intemal connector to tilt within a predetermined range of angles so that said internal connector easily connects to said handheld electronic
device when said handheld electronic device is inserted
into said protective enclosure within said predetermined range of angles, said elastomeric covering maintaining said protective enclosure substantially submersibly watertight when said handheld electronic device is
enclosed within said protective enclosure.
* * * * *
US007449650B2
(12) United States Patent
(10) Patent No.:
Richardson et al.
US 7,449,650 B2
(45) Date of Patent:
(54)
MULTI-DIRECTIONAL ACTIVATION
BUTTON
(75)
(73)
Inventors: Curtis R. Richardson, Fort Collins, CO
(US); Alan Morine, Fort Collins, CO
(US); Douglas Kempel, Fort Collins, CO
(US)
.
.
Asslgneei Otter Pmdllctss LLC: F01'tC011111Ss C0
(*)
Notice:
5,380,968
5,508,479
5,626,222
5,725,086
5,788,059
6,274,826
6,608,270
6,831,238
7,322,759
(US)
Nov. 11, 2008
A * 1/1995 Morse ................... .. 200/302.3
A * 4/1996 Schooley .................. .. 200/5 R
A * 5/1997 Aguilera ................... .. 200/305
A * 3/1998 Cooper ..... ..
■'■ 200/302.3
A * 8/1998 Jahangiri ............... .. 200/302.3
B1 * 8/2001 Serizawa et a1. .......... .. 200/5 R
B2 * 8/2003 Donofrio et a1. .. ■■ 200/302.1
B1* 12/2004 Lau .......................... .. 200/6 A
132* 1/2008 Raketal. ................. .. 400/486
7,326,869 132*
2/2008 Flynn etal. ............... .. 200/341
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
* .
.
clted by exammer
<29 @s■ ■
5/:;;"“::,f::;;i":;£‘i°2:%:E:%11f:;. W ■■
(22)
Cochran Freund & Young LLC
Filed,
Jul_ 13, 2007
(65)
Prior Publication Data
US 2008/0017493 A1
(57)
ABSTRACT
Jan. 24, 2008
Related U.S.Application Data
Disclosed is a multi-directional activation button disposed on
a protective case for activating a multi-directional control
(60) Provisional application No. 60/807,726, filed on Jul.
g:\I]11Sb:t0t2:I111::e:%:§:,:1:e;f:I:b:::en;1i%-:1::;t:?:11:1
(51)
19’ 2006'
into directional surfaces that are aligned with a plurality of
Int. Cl.
H01H 9/00
directions of operation of said multi-directional activation
.
button.
supports. an extension that engages the
. A
. membrane
.
(2006.01)
(52) U.s. Cl. ...................... .. 200/331; 200/5 R; 200/6 A
58
( )
F_ 1d f Cl
S
h
from a pivot point that controls the direction and the amount
200/333 331 33’0 512’ 529 541 2’9’6. 34‘1/’20i2'2f
’
345/1’ 56 1’ 57 1’ 6 1 1’ 62 1’ 6 8 169 184’
S
1, , fil f ’
’1
’
E1 h, ’
’
from the pivot point simulates an extension ofa user’s finger
depending uponwhich directional surface oftherubbermembrane is depressed by the user’s finger. The multi-directional
/1c§tl1°7nRe:r2 2 2 302 3’
ee app lcanon
(56)
_
m“1“‘d“.e°“°“*.‘1°°mr°1de“°e'The.me‘¥‘b”‘“e has a length
200/5 R
le 0
_fi
e or Comp ete Seam
of movement of an activation extension wherein movement
lstory‘
References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
4,823,397 A *
activation button may be utilized for push button activation,
toggle
tions. slide operations, dial wheel, or Joy stick like opera-
4/1989 Hewitt ..................... .. 455/90.3
EXTENDABLE
MEMBRANE
SECTION
1 03
6 Claims, 4 Drawing Sheets
MEMBRANE
DIRECHONAL
SURFACE
106
DIRECFIONAL
SURFACE
I 20
DIRECTIONAL
SURFACE
DIREC|'|0NAL
SURFACE
100
MULTI-DIRECTIONAL
ACFIVATION
BUTTON
U.S. Patent
Nov. 11,2008
Sheet 1 014
US 7,449,650 B2
MEMBRANE
EXTENDABLE
I I2
MEMBRANE
SECTION
103
CENTER
sEcT|oN
@‚î
DIRECTIONAL
à$î 5,
0`î Xî
SURFACE
I‘ 1
I06
DIRECTIONAL
SURFACE
I20
I02
PANEL
I I8
DIRECTIONAL
SURFACE
I08
DIRECTIONAL
SURFACE
I00
MULTI-DIRECTIONAL
ACTIVATION
BUTTON
FIG. 1
U.S. Patent
Nov. 11,2008
Sheet 2 of4
US 7,449,650 B2
PIVOT
I 05
I O4
ACTIVATION
EXTENSION
103
EXTENDABLE
MEMBRANE
SECTION
1 O7
CONTACT
SU RFACE
FIG. 2
U.S. Patent
Nov. 11,2008
Sheet 3 of4
EXTENDABLE
PANEL
MEMBRANE
5EC1TggN
DI
DIRECTIONAL
102 PANEL
5”
105 PIVOT
L
9
E>ExTENSION
ENDABLE
I04
97
105
103
/ECTE/£IST|I8|N
Q
TIONAL
SURFACE
102
CE
\
I04
ACTIVATION
T‘
E>
101
US 7,449,650 B2
I I4
gy
PIVOT
MBRANE
SECTION
PANEL
102
116
[MAL
VVHEEL
II7
a6?
—.I
a
(
B
1 O4
ACTUATION
EXTENSION
r2i ‘“:w E52
\
108
DIRECTIONAL
II9
IVIULTI-DIRECTIONAL
SURFACE
CONTROL DEVICE
F|G.3C
FIG. 3D
U.S. Patent
Nov. 11,2008
Sheet 4 of4
US 7,449,650 B2
MULTIDIRECTIONAL
CONTROL DEVICE
i/#119
SLIDE
SWITCH
I-’-2
FlG.4A
I24
126
‘E
122
SLIDE
SWITCH
FIG. 4B
‘
I24
SLIDE
n4~§7
5"‘{5T§”
H6
FIG. 4C
US 7,449,650 B2
1
2
MULTI-DIREC TIONAL AC TIVATION
the contact surface to engage the control device on the elecBUTTON
tronic device to operate the control device in the first direction; asserting a force on a second directional surface of the
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
plurality of directional surfaces to cause the interactive extenAPPLICATIONS
sion to extend in a second direction that is substantially
aligned with the second directional surface and cause the
The present application is based upon U.S. provisional
contact surface to engage the control device on the electronic
application Ser. No. 60/807,726, filed Jul. 19, 2006, by Curtis
device to operate the control device in the second direction.
R. Richardson, et al., entitled “Sealed Multi-Activation But10
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
ton.” The entire content of this application is hereby specifically incorporated herein by reference for all it discloses and
teaches.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the
outside surface of a multi-activation button;
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1
15
illustrating the inside surface of a multi-activation button;
FIG. 3A illustrates a sectional view of the multi-activation
Handheld devices such as personal digital assistants
button
of the embodiment of FIG. 1 for conventional push(PDA), pagers, hand-held computers, cellular phones, and so
button activation;
forth are inherently small and have limited space for user
FIG. 3B illustrates a sectional view of the multi-activation
interface and operation. These devices have greatly expanded
20 button ofthe embodiment ofFIG. 1 for scroll wheel activation
the functions and operations available for the user. Additional
features include multi-directional control devices such as dial
in clockwise direction;
FIG. 3C illustrates a sectional view of the multi-activation
wheels, scroll balls, slide switches, etc. Multi-direction conbutton ofthe embodiment ofFIG. 1 for scroll wheel activation
trol devices may provide improved navigation through the
in counterclockwise direction;
multiple functions performed by an electronic device, such as
25
FIG. 3D illustrates the manner in which the multi-activaa PDA or handheld computer, by limiting the number of
tion button interacts with a scroll wheel; and
switches needed, and providing various capabilities at fingertip control. However, when these devices are placed in a
FIGS. 4A, 4B, and 4C illustrate the directions for toggle
switch activation.
protective case, through-case controls are generally not available for operating these multi-directional control devices.
30
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective view of
An embodiment of the present invention comprises a
the user activation side (outside) portion of an embodiment of
multi-directional activation button that is disposed on a proa multi-directional activation button 100 mounted on a panel
tective case for an electronic device that contacts and moves 35 102. The panel 102 may be part of any type ofprotective case
a multi-directional control device disposed on said electronic
for an electronic device, such as, but not by way of limitation,
device comprising an interactive extension comprising: a plupersonal digital assistants (PDA), pagers, hand-held computrality of directional surfaces on a user activation side of the
ers, cellular phones, etc. However, the button 100 is particuinteractive extension that allows the interactive extension to
larly adaptable for use with electronic devices protected by
40
be moved in a plurality of directions upon application of a
waterproof and shock resistant enclosures, such as those
force by a user on the plurality of directional surfaces; a
described in the co-pending related applications such as U.S.
contact surface on a device activation side of the interactive
application Ser. No. 11/270,732 filed Nov. 8, 2005 by Curtis
R. Richardson, et al entitled “Protective Case for Touch
extension that engages and operates the multi-directional
control device; a membrane that is connected to the interacScreen Device,” U.S. application Ser. No. 10/937,048 filed
tive extension that holds the interactive extension in a 45 Sep. 8, 2004 by Curtis R. Richardson, et al entitled “Protective Enclosure for an Interactive Flat-Panel Controlled
recessed position, and that has a sufficient length to allow the
activation extension to move inwardly towards the electronic
Device,” and U.S. application Ser. No. 1 1/077,963 filed Mar.
device and to move in a direction to engage and operate the
10, 2005 by Curtis R. Richardson, et al entitled “Protective
multi-directional control device upon application of a force
Enclosure and Watertight Adapter for an Interactive Flaton at least one of the directional surfaces of the interactive 50 Panel Controlled Device,” which are all assigned to the
extension.
assignee of the instant application and which are specifically
incorporated herein by reference for all that they disclose and
Another embodiment of the present invention comprises a
teach. These applications describe electronic devices
method of operating a multi-directional control device on an
enclosed in a protective case that are adaptable for use by a
electronic device disposed in a protective case using a multi55
user through a membrane on the case and activation buttons
directional activation button comprising: providing an interactive extension in the multi-directional activation button that
mounted on the case. In these types of protective cases, the
user can preferably operate the electronic device directly
has a plurality ofdirectional surfaces and a contact surface for
through the protective casing. However, it has been difficult to
engaging the multidirectional control device; providing a
membrane that is connected to the interactive extension that
operate multi-directional control devices, such as dial wheels,
60
slide switches, scroll balls and similar types of interfaces,
holds the interactive extension in a recessed position and that
through a protective case. Multi-directional activation
allows the interactive extension to extend in a plurality of
through a protective case can be achieved using a multidirections by an amount that is sufiicient to engage the multidirectional control device with the contact surface of the
directional activation button that can be mounted on a protective case adjacent to a multi-directional control device or the
interactive extension; asserting a force on a first directional
65 electronic device.
surface of the plurality of directional surfaces to cause the
interactive extension to extend in a first direction that is subFIG. 1 discloses the user activation side ofone embodiment
stantially aligned with the first directional surface and cause
of a multi-directional activation button 100 that is comprised
US 7,449,650 B2
3
4
of flexible material such as a rubberized material, or other
simulates the extension of the user’s finger and can activate
elastic material, with a unique design that allows activation of
multi-directional control devices, such as push buttons or
switches, on the electronic device. As illustrated in FIG. 3B,
an extension that simulates finger tip motions. Since the activation button 100 is comprised of flexible material and is
if a user applies force to the directional surface 106, the
elastic enough to extend and activate dials and switches, the
activation extension 104 is pushed inwardly and extends in a
activation button 100 can be used as part of an environmental
downward direction, so as to move and generate a force, as
protective case, so that the electronic device, having multishown by arrows 114. The activation extension 104 may
directional activation interface control devices, can be actiengage a dial wheel, such as dial wheel 117 (FIG. 3D), or a
vated through the case. The button 100 is generally supported
slide switch, such as slide switch 122 (FIGS. 4A, 4B), so that
10
on a panel 102 on the protective case by a membrane 112,
the force vector in the tangential direction along the dial
wheel 117 will cause the dial wheel 117 to rotate in a counwhich comprises an extendable membrane section 103 and
pivot areas 105 (FIG. 2). The upper portion of the button is
terclockwise direction. Similarly, the downward vector comdivided into directional surfaces 106 and 108 with a center
ponent of the force 114 of the activation extension 104 will
cause the slide switch 122 to move in a downward direction,
section 110. Additional directional surfaces 118 and 120 may
15 such as shown in FIG. 4A.
also be provided. Each ofthese directional surfaces allows the
user to operate the multi-directional activation button in a
As shown in FIG. 3C, force applied by a user on directional
face 108 will cause the activation extension 104 to move in an
plurality of directions to operate a multi-directional control
device in multiple directions.
inward and upward direction, such as the direction shown by
As seen in FIG. 2 and FIGS. 3A-3D, the device activation
arrows 116. As illustrated in FIG. 3C, as a user applies force
20
to the directional face 108, the activation extension 104
side ofthe button, that is disposed on the inside of a protective
case, has a recessed activation extension 104. Although in this
causes the pivot arm 105 to move the activation extension 104
embodiment the activation extension 104 has a conical shape
to the position shown in FIG. 3C. As further force is applied,
the activation extension 104 extends further in an inward
with a round contact surface 107, other shapes can be used to
interface with a multi-directional activation interface control
direction from the plate 102, so that the motion and direcdevices in a better or more eflicient marmer. Activation exten- 25 tional force vectors become directed in a more vertical direcsion 104 is disposed to move in a direction depending upon
tion, as shown by arrows 116 in FIG. 3C. Hence, the activawhich one of the directional surfaces 106, 108, 118 or 120 of
tion extension 104 protrudes inwardly, as more force is
the button is pushed. An extendable membrane section 103,
applied to the directional face 108, and is directed in a more
which is formed in the flexible membrane 112, extends to
upward direction, as the activation extension is extended
30
allow movement of the recessed activation extension 104, so
more to the inside surface of the panel 102. As a result, the
that the activation extension 104 can interact with a multimotion and force vector in an upward direction becomes
directional activation control device, such as a control ball,
greater, as shown by the arrows 116.
dial wheel, slide switch, etc., disposed on an electronic
As shown in FIG. 3D, dial wheel 117 may be part of an
device, or other device, that may be disposed in a protective
electronic device that is disposed in a protective case or other
35
case. The extendable membrane section 103 pivots at pivot
environment in which a user cannot directly access the dial
area 105, depending upon which directional surface is
wheel 17. The activation extension is capable ofmoving in the
pushed, to move the activation extension 104. In one embodidirections illustrated by arrows 114, 115 and 116. The actiment, as shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C, the button can be
vation extension 104 may have a surface that is designed to
activated in at least three directions, depending on whether
engage the dial wheel 117 and move the dial wheel in the
40
the button is pushed at directional surfaces 106, 108 or 110.
directions shown by arrows 114, 115 and 116. Generation of
Additional directions can be obtained by pushing on addia force on directional surface 106 (FIG. 3B) creates movement of the activation extension 104 in the direction illustional directional surfaces 118 or 120. In fact, the extendable
membrane section 103 allows the center portion of the actitrated by arrow 114 to cause the dial wheel 117 to move in a
vation extension 104 to move in a plurality of directions,
counterclockwise direction. Similarly, application of force on
45
depending upon the direction of force that is applied by a
directional surface 108 (FIG. 3C) causes activation extension
user’s finger. The activation extension 104 is adapted to
104 to extend in the direction illustrated by arrows 116 to
cause the dial wheel 117 to rotate in a clockwise direction.
engage a multi-directional control device 119, such as dial
wheel 117 (FIG. 3D), or a slide switch, such as slide switch
Application of a force on directional surface 110 causes the
122 (FIGS. 4A and 4B). The activation extension 104 extends
dial wheel 117 to move in an inward direction, which may be
50 an on/off function of some dial wheels.
from the multi-directional activation button 100 upon application of a force by a user to the center section 110, or one of
The additional directional surfaces 118, 120 may be used to
the directional surfaces 106, 108, 118 or 120. As a result, the
generate movement in the transverse directions to those
activation extension 104 makes contact with a multi-direcshown in FIGS. 3B and 3C. Movement of the activation
tional control device, and then moves back to a recessed
extension 104 in the transverse directions may allow interac55
position. The range of motion and functionality of the button
tion with a scroll ball, such as those found on Blackberry
is controlled by the thickness and size of the membrane 112
phones, joy stick devices, or other types of devices that
and the length “L” of the extendable membrane section 103
require movement in the transverse direction.
FIGS. 4A, 4B and 4C illustrate the manner in which a slide
surrounding the activation extension 104, as well as the elasticity of the membrane material.
switch 122 may be operated using the multi-directional acti60
As shown in FIG. 3A, the length “L” of the extendable
vation button 100. As shown in FIGS. 4A through 4C, slide
membrane section 103 controls the extent ofmovement ofthe
switch 122 moves in a vertical direction, as indicated by
activation extension 104. If the activation button 100 is
arrows 124, 126. Application of force on the directional surpushed at center section 110, the activation extension 104
face 106 (FIG. 3B) generates a downward and inward movemoves directly inwardly in a straight line substantially normal
ment ofthe activation extension 104, as shown by arrows 114.
65 The surface of the activation extension 104 can be made to
to panel 102 and functions like the traditional on-off push
button. If mounted on a protective housing for an electronic
device such as PDA, Ipod, etc., the activation extension 104
engage the slide switch 122 to move the slide switch 122
downwardly in the direction of arrow 124, as shown by the
US 7,449,650 B2
5
movement of the activation extension 104 by arrow 114.
Similarly, the slide switch 122 can be moved in an upward
direction 126 by application of force on directional surface
108 (FIG. 3C) to move the activation extension 104 in the
direction of arrow 116. Slide switches, such as toggle
switches that have more than one position, can be operated in
this manner using the multi-directional activation button 100.
The foregoing description of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not
intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the 10
6
3. The multi-directional activation button of claim 1
wherein said plurality of directional surfaces are on three
surfaces of said interactive extension.
4. The multi-directional activation button of claim 1
wherein said plurality of directional surfaces are on five surfaces of said interactive extension.
5. A method of operating a multi-directional control device
on an electronic device disposed in a protective case using a
multi-directional activation button comprising:
providing an interactive extension in said multi-directional
precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variaactivation button that has a plurality of directional surtions may be possible in light of the above teachings. The
faces and a contact surface for engaging said multidirecembodiment was chosen and described in order to best
tional control device;
explain the principles of the invention and its practical appliproviding a membrane that is connected to said interactive
15
extension that holds said interactive extension in a
cation to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize
the invention in various embodiments and various modificarecessed position and that allows said interactive extentions as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is
sion to extend in a plurality of directions by an amount
intended that the appended claims be construed to include
that is sufficient to engage said multi-directional control
device with said contact surface of said interactive
other altemative embodiments ofthe invention except insofar
20
extension;
as limited by the prior art.
What is claimed is:
asserting a force on a first directional surface of said plu1. A multi-directional activation button that is disposed on
rality of directional surfaces to cause said interactive
extension to extend in a first direction that is substana protective case for an electronic device that contacts and
moves a multi-directional control device disposed on said
tially aligned with said first directional surface and cause
25
electronic device comprising:
said contact surface to engage said control device on said
an interactive extension comprising:
electronic device to operate said control device in said
first direction;
a plurality of directional surfaces on a user activation
side of said interactive extension that allows said
asserting a force on a second directional surface of said
interactive extension to be moved in a plurality of
plurality of directional surfaces to cause said interactive
30
extension to extend in a second direction that is substandirections upon application of a force by a user on said
plurality of directional surfaces;
tially aligned with said second directional surface and
a contact surface on a device activation side of said
cause said contact surface to engage said control device
interactive extension that engages and operates said
on said electronic device to operate said control device
in said second direction.
multi-directional control device;
35
a membrane that is connected to said interactive extension
6. The method of claim 5 further comprising:
that holds said interactive extension in a recessed posiasserting a force on at least one additional directional surtion, and that has a sufficient length to allow said actiface of said plurality of directional surfaces to cause said
interactive extension to extend in at least one additional
vation extension to move inwardly towards said electronic device and to move in a direction to engage and
direction that is substantially aligned with said at least
40
one additional directional surface and cause said contact
operate said multi-directional control device upon application of a force on at least one of said directional sursurface to engage said control device on said electronic
faces of said interactive extension.
device to operate said control device in said at least one
2. The multi-directional activation button of claim 1
additional direction.
wherein said plurality of directional surfaces are on two surfaces of said interactive extension.
US007612997B1
(12) Ulllted States Patent
(10) Patent No.:
Diebel et al.
(54)
(75)
US 7,612,997 B1
(45) Date of Patent:
Nov. 3, 2009
PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE CASE
WITH BATTERY
5,864,766 A
6,043,626 A
1/1999 Chiang
3/2000 Snyder et al.
.
Inventors: Markus Diebel, San Franclsco, CA
(US); DaVid J0hI1S0I1sSaI1 FraI1C1SC0s
CA (US)
.
.
.
6,184,654 B1
2/2001 Bachner, III et al.
6,317,313 B1* 11/2001 Mosgrove et al. ...... .. 361/679.3
6,324,380 B1
11/2001 Kiuchi etal.
D460,411 s
7/2002 Wang
6,538,413 B1
3/2003 Beard et al.
(73) Assignee. Igcszgse Designs Corp., lrwindale, CA
6,555,990
B1
6,614,722 B2
4/2003
Yang
9/2003 Polany et al.
(*)
Notice:
5992/151
7,166,987
D547,056
D547,057
1/2005
1/2007
7/2007
7/2007
(21)
APP1~ N04 12/464059
02>
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
i■
D556,681 s
`■
Related U.S. Application Data
(60)
B2
B2 *
s
S
12/2007 Kim
,
::::::::
C 3. .
1:22: :111SS3.lIll
P+■
13551092 S
2/2008 Kim
Provisional application No. 61/115,529, filed on Nov.
17, 2008, provisional application No. 61/157,111,
filed on Mar. 3, 2009, provisional application No.
(Continued)
61/171,455, filed onApr. 21, 2009.
(51)
Liang et 31~
Lee et al. .................. .. 320/114
Griflin et al.
Griffin et al.
Int. Cl.
H05K 5/00
H05K 7/00
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
(52)
U.S. Cl. ........................... .. 361/679.56; 361/679.41
(58)
Field of Classification Search .......... .. 361/679.56,
361/579.41; 206/308.3
See application file for complete search history.
(56)
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
_
_
_
M0ph1e Ju1ce Pack 1Ph0ne 1G Product Reference, May 1, 2008, 22
pages‘
(Continued)
.
.
.
Przrnary Examz71er—Jayprakash N Gandhi
A5515mm Ex‘1mme”*Amh011Y M Haughlon
74 AllorneJ’, A 8em, or Firm—Aka Chan LLP
References Cited
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ABSTRACT
A case for an electronic device protects and extends the battery life of the electronic device. The case has a lower case
portion and an upper case portion, which assemble together to
protect the top, side, and bottom edges of the electronic
device. The lower case portion includes a battery to extend the
battery life of the electronic device.
20 Claims, 25 Drawing Sheets
US 7,612,997 B1
Page 2
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
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D575,056
7,428,427
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2003/0218445
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2006/0058073
2006/0099999
2007/0152633
2007/0167190
2007/0236180
2008/0007214
2008/0096620
2008/0108395
2008/0123287
2008/0132289
B2*
S
B2
S
S
B2
S
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1
A1*
A1
7/2008
8/2008
9/2008
11/2008
12/2008
1/2009
3/2009
10/2002
5/2003
11/2003
Wood et al. ............ .. 455/575.8
Tan
Brunstrom et al.
Aipa
Tan
Vilanov et al.
Aipa
Su
Bessa et al.
Behar
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4/2005
10/2005
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3/2006
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7/2007
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Kujawski
Lange et al.
Jones et al.
Cao et al.
Kim
Park
Lee
Moosaviet al.
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4/2008
5/2008
5/2008
6/2008
Rodgers
Cheng
Lee et al.
Lee et al.
Rossellet al. ............. .. 361/686
Wood et al.
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G Product Reference, Aug. 4, 2008, 33
pages.
“Cheap DIY iPhone External Battery,” Michael Fisher’s Web Log,
Jul. 22, 2008, available at <http://fastdad.wordpress.com/2008/07/
22/cheap-diy-iphone-external-battery/>, retrieved May 12, 2009, 10
pages.
Rees, Dave, “Richard Solo Backup Battery for iPhone/iPod Review,”
Gadgeteer, Jun. 16, 2008, available at <http://the-gadgeteer.com/
2008/06/16/richard solo backup battery for iphone ipod/>,
retrieved May 12, 2009, 8 pages.
Horowitz, Jeremy, “Kensington Mini Battery Pack and Charger for
iPhone and iPod,” iLounge, May 16, 2008, available at <http://www.
ilounge .com/index .php/reviews/entry/kensington-mini-batterypack-and-charger-for-iphone-and-ipod/>, retrieved May 12, 2009, 3
pages.
“Mini Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod,” Kensington,
May 1, 2008, available at <http://files.acco.com/ Kensington/
K33442US/K33442US-usconsumer.pdf>, retrieved May 12, 2009, 1
page.
Rafferty, Sven, “Mybat External Battery for iPhone and iPod,”
SvenOnTech, May 18, 2008, available at <http://svenontech.com/
reviews/?p:74>, retrieved May 12, 2009, 4 pages.
Coldewey, Devin, “Combination iPhone Battery Pack and Flash
From FastMac,” CrunchGear, Nov. 4, 2008, available at <http://www.
crunchgear.com/2008/ 1 1/04/combination-iphone-battery-pack-andflash-from-fastmac/>, retrieved May 12, 2009, 3 pages.
Horowitz, Jeremy, “iLuv i603/i604 Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
Batteries with Silicone Skin,” iLounge, Jun. 27, 2006, available at
<http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/entry/iluv-i603-rechargeable-lithium-polymer-battery-with-silicone-skin>, retrieved
May 12, 2009, 3 pages.
* cited by examiner
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US 7,612,997 B1
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1
2
PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE CASE
portion and an upper case portion, which assemble together to
WITH BATTERY
protect the top, side, and bottom edges of the electronic
device. The lower case portion includes a battery to extend the
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
battery life of the electronic device.
APPLICATIONS
To assemble the case together, the upper case portion slides
onto the electronic device and the lower case portion. The
This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. provicase has openings which allow a user with fully access the
sional applications 61/115,529, filed Nov. 17, 2008, 61/157,
features of the portable electronic device. A front opening of
111, filed Mar. 3, 2009, and 61/171,455, filed Apr. 21, 2009,
the case for a screen of the electronic device is formed by a
10
which are incorporated by reference along with all other
merging of partial openings in the upper and lower case
references cited in this application.
portions. The case also allows the electronic device to synchronize with another device without removing it from the
case.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In an implementation, a case for an electronic device
15
This invention relates to a case for portable electronic
includes a lower case or first case portion including: a base
devices, and more specifically, to a case with a battery.
surface upon which a back of the electronic device will be
There are many types ofportable electronic devices includplaced against, where the base surface includes a top edge; a
ing personal digital assistants (PDAs), computers, smartbattery, enclosed in the lower case portion; electronic cirphones, mobile phones, satellite phones, cellular phones,
cuitry, connected to the battery; a lower sidewall, connected
20
pagers, music player, MP3 players, media players, digital
to the base surface at an end opposite ofthe top edge, that will
cameras, video cameras, bar code scanner, global positioning
be positioned against a bottom side edge of the electronic
system (GPS), and portable game consoles. Typically these
device; an inner connector, on the lower sidewall, positioned
devices are battery powered, so that people can carry and use
to connect to a connector of the electronic device, and conthe devices during their daily lives (e.g., on a bus or train,
nected through the electronic circuitry to the battery; and an
25
while in flight on an airplane, at the gym on the stair stepper,
outer connector, positioned on an outside bottom side of the
walking down an aisle, riding a bike, or driving a car).
lower case portion, connected through the electronic circuitry
These portable electronic devices allow people to play and
to the battery and inner connector.
record music, send and receive e-mail, send text messages,
The case includes an upper or second case portion includbrowse Web pages, make phone calls, play and record video,
ing: an upper sidewall that will be positioned against a top
30
take and view pictures, edit documents, and much more.
side edge ofthe electronic device when the upper case portion
These devices continue to revolutionize the way people interis seated against the lower case portion; and an open side end,
act, learn, connect with other people, conduct business, and
opposite of the upper sidewall. The upper case portion slides
find things. They help people manage their daily lives and
onto the lower case portion through the open side end in a
sometimes are an entertainment source.
direction along the base surface from the top edge to the lower
35
Because portable electronic devices are somewhat fragile
sidewall. When the upper case portion is seated against the
and used to carry valuable personal information (e.g. phone
lower case portion, the upper and lower case portions meet at
and form a seam which extends across a back of the case.
numbers, financial information, private photos or videos, and
favorite music tracks), many people protect their portable
electronic devices using cases. Depending on the particular
case design, these cases protect the back, side, and front ofthe
devices from scratches, dings, drops, and other physical damage. Some cases may even have pockets to hold extra batteries
or memory. So, when a battery becomes discharged, the person can take the used battery out of the portable electronic
device and replace it with a fresh battery from the case’s
pocket. Then the used battery can be recharged using a
recharger at home.
Also as modem portable electronic devices evolve, they
continue to provide more features and greater functionality.
For example, screen sizes become larger and have greater
resolution. The devices have greater wireless range or capabilities (e.g., 3G broadband wireless) and more numbers of
sensors (e.g., touch screen, accelerometer, proximity sensor,
and ambient light sensor). Applications that run on the
devices also may use more processing power. All these
improvements and changes usually are an additional drain on
the battery, shortening how long these devices can be used on
a single charge.
Therefore, it is desirable to increase the battery life of
portable electronic devices and also to protect these devices
from damage. There is a need for a portable electronic device
case that also provides additional battery life.
In various implementations, the upper case portion further
includes a left sidewall having an opening through which
40 buttons on a left side of the electronic device will be accessible. The lower case portion further includes a back surface
having a button, connected to the electronic circuitry, positioned on a side of the seam line closer to the outside bottom
side of the lower case portion. The lower case portion
includes an opening through the base back surface against
which a camera lens opening of the electronic device will be
placed. The lower and upper case portion are made of rigid
plastic material. In particular, the upper and lower portions
are not made of a relatively flexible material such as rubber or
50 silicone.
45
The lower case portion includes: a first group of openings,
positioned on the lower sidewall on a first side from the inner
connector, where a first speaker opening for the electronic
will be placed against the first openings when electronic
55 device is connected to the inner connector. There is a second
group of openings, positioned on the lower sidewall on a
second side from the inner connector, where a second speaker
opening for the electronic will be placed against the second
openings when electronic device is connected to the inner
60
connector. There is a third plurality of openings, positioned
on the outside bottom side, where each of the third openings
is smaller than an opening for the outer connector.
When the upper case portion is seated against the lower
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
case portion, a first open-polygon opening for the lower case
65
portion merges with a second open-polygon opening for the
A case for an electronic device protects and extends the
upper case portion to form a front opening, having a closedbattery life ofthe electronic device. The case has a lower case
polygon shape, of the case through which a screen of the
US 7,612,997 B1
4
3
electronic device will be visible. When the upper case portion
is seated against the lower case portion, on a back side of the
case, the upper case portion overlaps at least one portion of
the lower case portion to hold the upper case to the lower case
portion.
The lower case portion has a button, connected to the
electronic circuitry. By using the button, the case can be
switch from one mode to another. For example, via the button,
the case is placed in a first mode during which synchronizing
with the electronic device will be permitted or in a second
mode during which charging of the electronic device will be
permitted.
The lower case portion includes some lighting indicators
(e.g., LEDs), which are connected to the electronic circuitry.
After pressing the button for a first time period, the lighting
indicators will specify a level of charge remaining for the
battery. After pressing the button for a second time period,
longer than the first time period, the circuit enters the first
mode (e.g., synchronization). When connecting a cable to the
outer connector of the lower case portion, the cable does not
pass through any opening of the upper case portion.
In an implementation, a method making an electronic
device case includes: providing a lower case portion of the
electronic device case including a base front surface and base
back surface; enclosing a battery between the base front surface and base back surface; connecting electronic circuitry to
the battery and an inner and outer connector; and providing an
upper case portion for the electronic device case that slides
onto the lower case portion, where when the upper case portion is seated against the lower case portion, the upper and
lower case portions form a seam which extends across a back
of the case.
The case includes: a lower case portion comprising a base
front surface and base back surface; a battery, contained
between the base front surface and base back surface; electronic circuitry, coupled to the battery; and an upper case
portion, attached to the lower case portion. A a first openpolygon opening for the lower case portion merges with a
second open-polygon opening for the upper case portion to
form a front opening ofthe case through which a screen ofthe
electronic device will be visible, the front opening having a
10
closed-polygon shape.
The cable is a universal serial bus cable having a first end
with a USB Type A plug connector and a second end having
USB Mini-B plug connector. When the lower case portion is
attached to the lower case portion, the upper and lower case
15
portions meet at and form a seam which extends across a back
of the case.
20
25
30
In various implementations, the base back surface includes
a base upper back surface and base lower back surface, the 35
base back surface has a first side, a second side, and a first
thickness between the first and second sides. The method
further includes: enclosing the electronic circuitry between
the base front surface and the base lower back surface; making a cavity in the base lower back surface, where the cavity 40
extends from the second side toward, but not through to the
first side, and a second thickness from an end of the cavity to
the first side is thinner than the first thickness; and positioning
a lighting source of the electronic circuitry facing toward the
cavity, wherein when tumed on, the lighting source emits 45
visible light that passes through the second thickness, but not
the first thickness, to the first side.
The method includes: providing a button in the base back
surface, where the button is connected to the electronic circuitry and a surface of the button is flush with a surface of the
base back surface; providing indicator lights in the base back
surface, where the indicator lights are connected to the electronic circuitry; after holding the button for a first time period,
using the indicator lights to show a charge level ofthe battery;
and after holding the button for a second time period, longer
than the first time period, entering a sync mode to establish a
data path between the inner and outer connectors.
After entering the sync mode, pressing the button causes
exiting of the sync mode. After entering the sync mode, at
least one ofthe indicator lights is used to indicate the circuitry
is in the sync mode. A metal shield is provided between the
electronic circuitry and the base front surface.
In an implementation, a kit for case for an electronic device
includes: a foam tray (e.g., black foam) including a first
compartment and a second compartment; a cable, contained
within the first compartment; and a case for a portable electronic device, contained within the second compartment.
50
In an implementation, a case for an electronic device
includes a lower case portion and upper case portion that
slides onto the lower case portion. The lower case portion
includes a battery; electronic circuitry, connected to the battery; a lower sidewall; and an inner connector, positioned on
the lower sidewall and connected to the battery through the
circuitry. A first opening is positioned on the lower sidewall in
a first direction (e.g., left) away from the inner connector. A
second opening is positioned on the lower sidewall in a second direction (e.g., right) away from the inner connector,
where the second direction is opposite of the first direction.
The first and second openings may be audio openings (e.g.,
stereo sound).
An outer connector is positioned on a bottom side of the
lower case portion and connected to the battery and inner
connector through the circuitry. A third opening is positioned
on the bottom side, where a first line through the first opening,
second line through the second opening, and a third line
through the third opening are parallel to each other. The base
front surface may include raised cushioning strips running a
third direction, transverse to the first direction.
The upper case portion includes upper, first, and second
sidewalls, and a seam edge extends from the first sidewall
across a back of the upper case portion through to the second
sidewall. The seam edge is generally transverse to the first
line. The seam edge is generally transverse to the strips.
The back of the lower case portion can include a number of
lighting indicators, connected to the circuitry; and a button,
connected to the circuitry, where after pressing the button for
a first time period (e.g., less than 3 seconds), the light indicators will specify a level of charge remaining for the battery,
and after pressing the button for a second time period (e.g., 3
seconds or more), longer than the first time period, the circuit
enters a sync mode.
There are a number of ways to exit the sync mode. After
entering the sync mode, when the outer connector is not
connected to another electronic device within a third time
period (e.g., 30 seconds), longer than the second time period,
the circuitry exits the sync mode. After entering the sync
mode, when the button is pressed, the circuitry exits the sync
mode. After entering sync mode, when the outer connector is
disconnected from another electronic device, the circuitry
exits the sync mode.
60
While in the sync mode, one of the lighting indicators
flashes. At least one ofthe lighting indicators used to indicate
a charge level of the battery is also used to indicate the
circuitry is in the sync mode.
The lower case portion further includes a first camera open65
ing on a base front surface, where the first camera opening is
a closed polygon (e.g., circle, square, or hexagon) having a
first area; and a second camera opening on a base back sur-
55
US 7,612,997 B1
5
face, where the second camera opening is a closed polygon
having a second area, larger than the first area, and the battery
is enclosed between the base front surface and base back
surface.
6
and after holding the button for a second time period, longer
than the first time period, entering a sync mode to establish a
data path between the inner and outer connectors.
The method includes after entering the sync mode, press5
A back of the lower case portion includes a number of
ing the button causes exiting the sync mode. The method
lighting indicators (e.g., three, four, or five), connected to the
includes after entering the sync mode, using at least one ofthe
circuitry, where a line extends between a first and second of
indicator lights to indicate the circuitry is in the sync mode.
the lighting indicators. A button is connected to the circuitry,
In an implementation, a method includes providing a lower
and this button is positioned so the line (passing through the
10 case portion. The lower case portion includes a front side, a
first and second of the lighting indicators) does not pass
back side, and a lower sidewall. The lower case has no indithrough the button.
cator lights on a front side. The lower case has an inner
A back of the lower case portion includes a number of
connector having a first width (e.g., 22 millimeters) and an
lighting indicators, connected to the circuitry, where a line
outer connector having a second width (e.g., 8 millimeters).
The second width is less than the first width. The first width is
segment extends between a first and second of the lighting
15 from about 2 to about 2.75 times wider than the second width.
indicators. A button is connected to the circuitry and this
button is positioned in a third direction (e.g., below) from the
The lower case portion includes a number of indicator
line segment, transverse to the first direction and is equidislights (e.g., five) on a back side. A button is centered (e.g.,
tant (e.g., centered between) to ends of the line segment.
below a middle of the five indicator lights) on the back side.
After the upper and lower case portions are joined, a seam
20 Holding the button for more than a time period (e.g., three
line divides the case so the lower case portion is from about
seconds or more) indicates to the circuitry to enter a synchro0.18 to about 0.38 of a length of the joined case. After the
nization mode. The lower case portion has a battery and
upper and lower case portions are joined, a seam line divides
circuitry to charge the battery using power input through the
the case so for a front of the case, the lower case portion is
outer connector. The battery charges a portable electronic
device to be connected to the inner connector.
about X of a length of the joined case and for a back of the
25
case, the lower case portion is aboutY of a length ofthe joined
A first camera opening (e.g., a circle) on a base front
case, where X andY are numbers andY is greater than X. For
surface ofthe lower case portion has a first diameter. A second
example, X is about 0.23 andY is about 0.27.
camera opening (e.g., a circle) on a base back surface of the
In an implementation, a method includes: providing a
lower case portion has a second diameter greater than the first
lower case portion of an electronic device case including a
30 diameter. A first set of audio openings is positioned on the
base front surface and base back surface; providing a first
lower sidewall at a first side (e.g., left) of the inner connector.
camera opening on the base front surface, where the first
A second set of audio openings is positioned on the lower
camera opening has a closed polygon shape; enclosing a
sidewall at a second side (e.g., right) of the inner connectorA
battery between the base front surface and base back surface;
third set of audio openings on an exterior lower side of the
providing electronic circuitry connected to the battery and an
35 lower case portion is at a second side of the outer connector.
inner and outer connector; and providing an upper case porA first line passing through one of the first set of audio
tion for the electronic device case that slides onto the lower
openings is parallel to a second line passing through one of
case portion, where the upper case portion comprises a seam
the third set of audio openings.
edge that extends from a first front corner across a back of the
The lower case portion has a first raised strip on the base
upper case portion through to a second front comer.
40 front surface. The lower case portion has a second raised strip
The base back surface includes a base upper back surface
on the base front surface. The raised strips are made of the
and base lower back surface. The base back surface has a first
same material and provide some cushioning, compared to the
side, a second side, and a first thickness between the first and
base front surface.
second sides. The method further includes: enclosing the
In a specific implementation, when the phone is placed on
electronic circuitry between the base front surface and the
45 the base front surface and connected to the inner connector, a
base lower back surface; making a cavity in the base lower
top of the phone does not extend beyond an upper edge ofthe
back surface, wherein the cavity extends from the second side
base front surface. A front opening of the assembled case is
toward, but not through to the first side, and a second thickgenerally rectangular with rounded comers. The front openness from an end of the cavity to the first side is thinner than
ing has a first frame edge that extends in a vertical direction
the first thickness; and positioning a lighting source of the
50 from a first seam line toward a first rounded corner at a bottom
electronic circuitry facing toward the cavity, wherein when
left ofthe lower case portion, through the first rounded comer
turned on, the lighting source emits visible light that passes
to a second frame edge that extends in a horizontal direction
through the second thickness, but not the first thickness, to the
first side.
toward a second rounded corner at a bottom right ofthe lower
case portion, through the second rounded comer to a third
A second camera opening is provided on the base back
55 frame edge, parallel to the first frame edge to a second seam
surface, where the second camera opening has a closed polyline.
gon shape and a first area of the first camera opening is less
The first seam line is inline with the second seam line. The
than a second area of the second camera opening. The base
first seam line is transverse to the vertical direction. The first
back surface includes a sloped lens hood around the first
seam line is positioned at from about 0.15 to about 0.38 of a
camera opening, extending from the first camera opening to
60 vertical length of the lower case portion. Further, when the
the second camera opening at least a thickness of the battery.
upper case portion is on the lower case portion, the first seam
The method includes: providing a button in the base back
line is positioned at about 0.23 of a length of a vertical length
surface, where the button is connected to the electronic cirof the assembled case. When a portable electronic device is
cuitry and a surface of the button is flush with a surface of the
inserted in the inner connector, a lower edge of a screen is
base back surface; providing indicator lights in the base back
65 parallel to the first seam line.
surface, where the indicator lights are connected to the electronic circuitry; after holding the button for a first time period,
When the upper case portion is on the lower case portion,
there is a third seam line for a back ofthe case. The third seam
using the indicator lights to show a charge level ofthe battery;
US 7,612,997 B1
7
8
line is positioned at a different ratio (e.g., 0.27 Versus 0.23) of
FIG. 26 shows a functional block diagram of the portable
the Vertical length of the assembled case.
electronic deVice case with a battery that extends the battery
life of the portable electronic deVice.
On a left side, the upper case has a first slot opening. On a
FIGS. 27 and 28 show tables listing operational modes of
top side, the upper case has a circular opening and a second 5
the portable electronic deVice case.
slot opening, smaller than the first slot opening. On a back, the
FIG. 29 shows an arrangement ofindicator lights and a case
upper case has a camera opening.
button below the indicator lights.
In an implementation, a back and side surface of the upper
FIG. 30 shows the rightmost indicator light turned on.
case portion is coated with a soft-touch coating. A front inside
FIG. 31 shows the leftmost indicator light tumed on.
surface ofthe upper case portion is polished to a glossy finish. 10
FIG. 32 shows three indicator lights turned on.
A front, back, and side surface of the lower case portion is
FIG. 33 shows fiVe indicator lights tumed on.
coated with the soft-touch coating. The base front surface of
FIG. 34 shows a circuit block diagram for electronic cirthe lower case portion is polished to a glossy finish.
cuitry of the portable electronic deVice case.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present
FIG. 35 shows a layout View of the components for the
invention will become apparent upon consideration of the 15
lower case portion, as Viewed from a back side of the lower
following detailed description and the accompanying drawcase portion.
ings, in which like reference designations represent like feaFIG. 36 shows a cross section of a portion ofthe lower case
tures throughout the figures.
portion.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 37 shows a top View of a sound box portion of the
20 case.
FIG. 38 shows a cross section of the sound box.
FIG. 1A shows an upper case portion for a case for a
FIGS. 39-42 show steps in a process of making a flush
portable electronic deVice.
indicator light coVering for the case.
FIG. 1B shows a lower case portion for a case for the
FIG. 43 shows a top View of the flush indicator light coVportable electronic deVice.
25
ering.
FIG. 1C shows an example of a portable electronic deVice.
FIG. 44 shows a kit for a portable electronic case with a
FIG. 2 shows the portable electronic deVice case, where the
battery including a tray to hold the case and a cable.
upper and lower case portions are assembled together. The
FIG. 45 shows a cross section of an implementation of a
portable electronic deVice is not shown in the case.
FIG. 3 shows a front View of the assembled case.
tray for the kit. This tray has multileVel compartments.
30
FIG. 4 shows a back View of the assembled case including
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
a case button, indicator lights, a lens shield, and camera
opening.
FIGS. 1A-1C show a case that protects a portable elecFIG. 5 shows a left side View of the assembled case.
tronic deVice 101 (e.g., smartphone, music player, or camera)
FIG. 6 shows a right side View of the assembled case.
from damage and also has a built-in battery to extend the
FIG. 7 shows a top side View of the upper case portion of
battery
life of the portable electronic deVice. FIG. 1A shows
the assembled case.
an upper case portion 104 of the case, FIG. 1B shows a lower
FIG. 8 shows a bottom side View of the lower case portion
portion 108 of the case, and FIG. 1C shows a representatiVe
of the assembled case.
portable electronic deVice 101. This figures show the case and
40
FIG. 9 shows a front View of the upper case portion.
electronic deVice in a portrait mode orientation. HoweVer, the
FIG. 10 shows a front View of the lower case portion.
orientation of the case may change (e.g., landscape mode
FIG. 11 shows a back View of the upper case portion
orientation or upside-down orientation) or Vary depending on
FIG. 12 shows a back View of the lower case portion.
the point of View or the orientation of the electronic deVice.
FIG. 13 shows a left side View of the upper case portion.
So, the lower case portion may become the upper case por45
FIG. 14 shows a left side View of the lower case portion.
tion, right-side case portion, or left-side case portion. The
upper case portion may become the lower case portion, rightFIG. 15 shows a right side View of the upper case portion.
side case portion, or left-side case portion. Regardless of the
FIG. 16 shows a right side View of the lower case portion.
orientation,
the case has two portions, where one case portion
FIG. 17 shows a top side View of the upper case portion
encloses a built-in battery. The lower case portion may also be
only.
50
referred to as a first case portion and the upper case portion
FIG. 18 shows a bottom side View ofthe upper case portion
may be referred to as a second case portion.
only.
The portable electronic deVice fits into the lower case porFIG. 19 shows a top side View of the lower case portion
tion. The upper case portion slides oVer the portable eleconly.
tronic deVice and lower case portion to secure the portable
FIG. 20 shows a cross section of the case holding a phone 55
electronic deVice in place. FIG. 2 shows an assembled case
when placed face down on a flat surface.
201 with upper and lower case portions joined together, but
FIG. 21 shows a close-up top View ofthe built-in lens hood
without the portable electronic deVice in the case.
and the camera openings ofthe upper and lower case portions.
The case protects the portable electronic deVice and has
FIG. 22 shows a right side View of the assembled case
openings which allow a user to access the features of the
60
including the camera opening.
deVice. Further, the case includes a battery, enclosed within
FIG. 23 shows a cross section ofthe lens hood between the
the lower case portion, to supplement the battery of the porcamera openings of the upper and lower case portions.
table electronic deVice, thus increasing running time for the
FIG. 24 shows a diagram of the front of the assembled case
portable electronic deVice. Features and aspects of this case
with a portable electronic deVice in the case. There is a seam
may be applied to cases for Various portable electronic
65
line where the upper and lower case portions meet.
deVices and deVice types.
FIG. 25 shows a back View of the assembled case where a
In FIG. 1C, the portable electronic deVice is a smartphone.
region of the back surface is relatiVely flat.
For purposes of discussion, this patent describes the case as
US 7,612,997 B1
9
being for a smartphone. Some examples of smartphones
include the Apple® iPhone, Blackberry® Storm, Blackberry® Pearl, Sarnsung® BlackJack, LG® Touch phones,
and LG® Dare, and there are many others.
However, the case can be used with any type of batterypowered portable electronic device, where this device does
not necessarily provide telephony functionality. For example,
in other implementations, the case may be for a portable or
handheld gaming device (e.g., Sony® PlayStation® Portable
or PSP®, or Nintendo® DSTM), portable or palm-sized computer (e.g., OQO computer or Intel® AtomTM netbook), personal digital assistant (PDA), pager, audio player, video
player, media player (Apple® Touch), cassette player, compact disc (CD) player, digital video disc (DVD) player, camera, video recorder, digital recorder, voice recorder, music
recorder, digital audio recorder, or nonvolatile memory storage (e.g., Flash or phase-cha11ge memory).
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Apple is a trademark of Apple Computer Incorporated.
Blackberry is a trademark of Research in Motion Limited.
Samsung is a trademark of Samsung Electronics Company
Limited. LG is a trademark of LG Electronics, Incorporated.
Sony is a trademark of Sony Corporation. PlayStation and
PSP are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Incorporated. Nintendo is a trademark ofNintendo Company, Limited. Intel and Atom are trademarks of Intel Corporation.
OQO is a trademark of OQO Incorporated.
In FIG. 1C, the smartphone has a top side edge where there
is a headset jack 112 and a sleep/wake button 116. On a left
side edge, there is a ring/silent switch 120 and volume buttons
124. On a back of the device (not shown in FIG. 1C), there is
a camera lens 128 (indicated using broken lines).
On a bottom side edge of the device, there are speaker and
microphone openings (not shown) and an electrical connector
(not shown). Via the electrical connector, the phone can be
charged or connected to another device, such as a computer or
another smartphone, for synchronizing or transferring of
files.
10
down U. The lower case portion has a second open-polygon
front opening; this shape may generally be described as a U.
To assemble the case together, the upper case portion is seated
or fitted against the lower case portion. Then the upside-down
U of the upper case portion joins with the U of the lower case
portion to form the rectangular closed-polygon-shaped front
opening shown in FIG. 2.
The lower case portion has rubber strips 160a and 160b on
a base front surface 164. The strips protect and cushion the
10
phone in the case. When placed in the case, a back of the
electronic device will be placed against base front surface
164. The base surface has a top edge 165. There is a lower
sidewall 166 that is connected to the base front surface at an
15
end opposite of the top edge. The lower sidewall will be
positioned against the bottom side edge of the electronic
device.
On the lower sidewall is an inside or inner connector 168,
which is positioned and will connect to the electrical connector on the bottom side edge ofthe electronic device. To the left
20
and right of the inner connector are left speaker openings
172a and right speaker openings 172b. Each of the speaker
openings 172a and 172b may include one or more individual
openings. A left speaker opening on the bottom side edge of
the electronic device will be placed against left speaker open25
ings 172a.A right speaker opening on the bottom side edge of
the electronic device will be placed against right speaker
openings 172b. The electronic device’s microphone and
speakers transmit sound through these speaker (or audio)
openings. More details on the speaker or audio openings are
30 below.
FIGS. 3-10 show various other views of the case. FIG. 3
shows a front view of the assembled case. Where upper 104
and lower 108 case portions meet, there is a seam line 304.
There are seam lines on either side (opposite sides) of front
35
opening 204.
FIG. 4 shows a back view ofthe assembled case. For lower
case portion 108, there are a case button 408 and indicator
lights 412a-e (e.g., light emitting diodes (LEDs) or other
On a front of the device, there is a screen 132, which may
lighting sources). A synchronization (or sync) marking 416 is
40
be a touch screen. Below the touch screen, there is a button
around indicator light 412e; this marking is optional. When
136, and above the touch screen, a telephone receiver 140
the upper case portion is seated or fitted against the lower case
(which a user can hold to an ear to hear a telephone converportion, the upper and lower case portions meet at and form a
seam line 419 which extends across a back of the case.
sation).
While the device is in the case, the user will still be able to
access the features of the device. Specifically, for example,
for accessing headset jack 112 and sleep/wake button 116,
upper case portion 104 has on its top side (upper sidewall), a
headset jack opening 144 and a button opening 148, respectively. For accessing ring/silent switch 120 and volume buttons 124, the upper case portion has on its left side (left
sidewall), a side opening 152. For camera lens 128, lower case
portion 108 has a camera opening 156 and upper case portion
104 also has a corresponding camera opening (not shown in
FIG. 1A). The camera opening in the upper case portion lines
up with the camera openings in the lower case portion.
As shown in FIG. 2, when assembled together, the upper
and lower portions of the case define an opening 204 in the
front, through which the user can view and access the touch
screen, home button, and receiver. As shown in the figure,
opening 204 has a closed-polygon shape.
The closed-polygon shape can have any shape (e.g.,
square, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, star, circle,
arch, or oval). In a specific implementation, the closed-polygon shape is a rectangle with rounded comers. This closedpolygon shape is formed by the merging oftwo open-polygon
shapes. The upper case portion has a first open-polygon front
opening; this shape may generally be described as an upside
The lower case portion includes a lens shield or lens hood
420 (see also FIG. 12), which extends from camera opening
156. Upper case portion 104 also has a camera opening 424
for the camera lens; camera opening 424 is larger (i.e., larger
diameter) than camera opening 156. More details on the
camera lens openings and lens shield are below.
50
FIG. 5 shows a left side view ofthe assembled case. Where
45
the upper and lower case portions meet, there is a seam line
that extends across the back and through the sides to the front.
In a specific implementation, for the side of the case, seam
line 304 is angled slightly with respect to a horizontal line. For
55
the front of the case, a distance (SM1) is from the seam line to
the bottom of the case. For the back of the case, a distance
(SM2) is from the seam line to the bottom of the case. The
angled seam line on the side is due to distance SM2 being
greater than distance SM1.
60
FIG. 6 shows a right side view ofthe assembled case. The
seam line is also angled in this side view. FIG. 7 shows a top
side view ofthe upper case portion ofthe assembled case. The
speaker openings 172a and 172b are visible through the openings on the top side of the upper case portion. More details on
65
camera opening 424 are below.
FIG. 8 shows a bottom side view of the lower case portion.
The lower case portion has an outside or outer connector 804
US 7,612,997 B1
11
12
(e.g., a mini-B USB connector) and a grille or outside speaker
opening 808 that are positioned on an outside bottom side.
The outer connector allows a user to connect the case and
case portion) over the electronic device onto the lower case
portion. The upper case portion slides onto the lower case
portion through the open side end in a direction 1013 (i.e.,
vertical direction) along the base surface from the top edge to
the lower sidewall.
device via a cable (e.g., USB cable) to a power source or to
synchronize with another electronic device. In the specific
implementation in FIG. 8, the outer connector is positioned a
bottom side edge of the lower case portion (or portion which
encloses or conceals the battery). However, in other implementations, the outer connector may be positions at other
locations. For example, the outer connector can be positioned
on an outside right side edge of the lower case portion. The
outer connector can be positioned on an outside left side edge
of the lower case portion. The outer connector can be positioned on a back side (near or below the buttons and LEDs) of
the lower case portion. The outer connector can be positioned
on a front side (near or below the front screen opening) of the
lower case portion. In alternative implementations, the outer
connector may be position on the case portion which does not
have enclose the battery (e.g., upper case portion); then the
connector is connected to the battery via wires or other electrical connectors. The outer connector can be positioned on an
outside top or upper side edge of the upper case portion. The
outer connector can be positioned on an outside right side
edge of the upper case portion. The outer connector can be
positioned on an outside left side edge of the upper case
portion. The outer connector can be positioned on a back side
of the upper case portion. The outer connector can be positioned on a front side (near or above the front screen opening)
of the upper case portion.
The outside speaker opening allows sound output (e.g.,
stereo sound output). Sound from the electronic device will
travel through speaker openings 172a and 172b and output
through openings 808. Openings 172a and 172b are aligned
with openings 808, so a line passing through openings 172a
and 172b will be parallel with lines passing through openings
808. Note that openings 808 are made up of individual circular openings that are each smaller than the opening for outer
connector 804. In other implementations, however, there can
be any number of openings, larger or smaller than the openings shown, and each opening may have a different shape.
More details on the outer connector and outside speaker opening are below.
FIG. 9 shows a front view of the upper case portion. The
upper case portion includes a left sidewall 904, a right sidewall 908 (opposite the left side wall), an upper sidewall 912,
and an upper interior surface 916 which connects to the left,
right, and upper sidewalls. Generally, the upper interior surface is approximately perpendicular to the sidewalls. Sidewalls 904, 908, and 912 generally form a three-sided rectangular frame with rounded comers (e.g., upside down U). The
upper case portion also has an open side end 919 (which
would be the fourth side of the rectangular frame) that is
opposite of upper sidewall 912.
FIG. 10 shows a top view of the lower case portion. The
lower case portion includes front base surface 164 with strips
160a and 160b that run in a vertical direction (when viewing
the case in a portrait orientation) on its surface. The electronic
device (e.g., phone) will be placed on front base surface 164
and inserted (e.g., by sliding) into inner connector 168, which
holds the phone to the lower case portion. There are a left
insert 1004a and a right insert 1004b which curve upward at
a lower portion ofthe base. These inserts extend from a lower
sidewall 1006, which is generally shaped like a three-sided
rectangular frame with rounded comers (e.g., U).
After the electronic device is placed on the front base
surface, to assemble the case, a person takes the upper case
portion and slides it (through open side end 919 of the upper
In an implementation, the material ofthe case is a rigid hard
plastic. Both upper and lower case portions are made of the
same material. The upper case portion is formed of a shape to
fit over the phone and lower case portions without need to
10
stretch the upper case portion over the lower case portion. The
case portions made of a relatively rigid material cannot be
stretched as much as, for example, gel, silicone, or rubber,
without cracking or breaking. More details on the material of
the case are below.
15
The base front surface generally has a contour that matches
or conforms to the back of the phone or other device which
will lie on the base front surface. For example, if the phone
has a convex curved back, then the base front surface will
have a concave curved surface. The base front surface gives
20
good support for the electronic device. A length of the base
front surface is such that when an electronic device is placed
on the base surface, the top edge base front surface is roughly
aligned (e.g., same length, slightly longer, or slightly shorter)
with a top side edge of the electronic device.
25
Strips 160a and 160b extend in the vertical direction along
base front surface 164 of the lower case portion. Strips 160a
and 160b are typically a different material than the base front
surface material and rise slightly above the base front surface.
These strips can be made of a material that has cushioning
30
properties such as rubber, vinyl, polymer, plastic, foam (e.g.,
material with bubbles), or silicone. Depending on the material used, the strips may also be slightly tacky. These strips
help cushion the electronic device and prevent it from becoming scratched or marred, especially when inserting the device
35
into the lower case portion. The strips also help to gently grip
the electronic device so that it does not inadvertently slide or
become as easily dislodged from the lower case portion.
The figures show a specific arrangement and number of
strips, but in other implementations, there can be any number
40
of strips in any arrangement. For example, there can be three,
four, or more strips running in the lengthwise direction. Or the
strips can run diagonally or horizontally on the base front
surface. Further, in an implementation, the strips can be omitted entirely.
45
Like a sleeve, the upper case portion slides over and onto
the left and right inserts (1004a and 1004b) ofthe lower case
portion until being stopped by a raised lip 1008 of the lower
case portion. This raised lip extends from the left insert along
the back (see also FIG. 12) to the right insert ofthe lower case
50
portion. Where the upper and lower case portions meet, the
exterior surfaces become flush with each other.
When the upper case portion is seated against the lower
case portion, on a back side ofthe case, the upper case portion
overlaps at least one portion of the lower case portion to hold
55
the upper case to the lower case portion. The upper case
portion overlaps inserts 1004a and 1004b and a back base
surface 1204 (FIG. 12) ofthe lower case portion.
The upper case portion generally holds onto the left and
right inserts of the lower case portion through friction. Fur60
ther, a distance from an outer surface of the left insert to an
outer surface of the right insert can be typically slightly
greater than an inner width ofthe upper case portion (i .e., into
which the inserts will fit). This allows the upper case portion
to hold onto the left and right inserts by compression.
65
Once joined, sidewalls 904, 908, 912, and 1006 for the
upper and lower case portions form front opening 204, which
is generally a rectangular frame with rounded comers. The
US 7,612,997 B1
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upper case portion’s camera opening 424 aligns with the
lower case portion’s camera openings 156 and 1208. The
camera lens of the phone will haVe an unobstructed View
through the camera openings of the lower and upper case
portions.
FIG. 11 shows a back View ofthe upper case portion. There
is an upper exterior surface 1104, which is the opposite side of
upper interior surface 916. FIG. 12 shows a back View of the
lower case portion. Lens shield 420 extends from camera
opening 156 at base front surface 164 to opening 1208 at a
base back surface 1204. Camera opening 156 is smaller (i.e.,
smaller diameter) than camera opening 1208. Note that if the
base surface is sufiiciently shorter than the electronic deVice,
camera opening 156, lens shield 420, and camera opening
1208 may be omitted or partially omitted from the lower case
portion.
In a specific implementation, the base back surface is a
single piece (e.g., plastic) that has a base upper back surface
1209 and a base lower back surface 1212. The base upper
back surface and base lower back surface can be different
14
millimeters. In a specific implementation, the phone’ s screen
is coplanar to the table and a distance from the table to the
screen is approximately 1 millimeter. This distance will Vary
depending on the flatness of the surfaces.
5
Also, generally, front opening 204 is smaller than the
phone’s front face. In other words, for example, a length of
the front opening is less than a length of the phone’s front
face. A width of the front opening is less than a width of the
phone’s front face. In a specific implementation, the front
10
opening is generally rectangular and has a length of about
109.5 millimeters and a width of about 55 millimeters. The
corners ofthe front opening can also be rounded (or square in
other implementations).
FIG. 21 shows a close-up top View ofbuilt-in lens hood 420
15
and the camera openings ofthe upper and lower case portions.
FIG. 22 shows a side View of a camera opening 2230 for the
assembled case. FIG. 23 shows a cross section of the lens
hood between the camera openings of the upper and lower
case portions.
20
Within box 2305 is the lower case portion which includes
base front surface 164 and base back surface 1204. Base front
sections of the base back surface. In another implementation,
base upper back surface 1209 and base lower back surface
surface 164 (see also FIG. 1) has camera opening 156. Base
1212 are indiVidual pieces (e.g., two plastic pieces) that make
back surface 1204 has camera opening 1208. Also, the base
front surface and base back surface form an enclosure 2309
up the base back surface (e.g., see FIG. 38).
25
FIG. 13 shows a left side View of the upper case portion.
between them, within which a battery 2317 for the case is
FIG. 14 shows a left side View of the lower case portion. FIG.
housed. More details on the battery are below.
Base back surface 1204 has lens hood 420 which extends
15 shows a right side View of the upper case portion. FIG. 16
shows a right side View of the lower case portion.
from camera opening 1208 toward base front surface 164.
FIG. 17 shows a top side View of the upper case portion
Base front surface 164 joins with base back surface 1204, and
30
(case not assembled), including headset jack opening 144,
camera opening 156 aligns with lens hood 420. When the case
button opening 148, and camera opening 424. FIG. 18 shows
is assembled together, camera opening 424 of upper case
a bottom side View of the upper case portion. FIG. 19 shows
portion 104 aligns with the camera openings in the lower case
a top side View of the lower case portion, showing inner
portion.
connector 168, left speaker opening 172a, right speaker openIn a specific implementation, the lens hood has about a 31
35
ing 172b, and camera opening 1208.
degree field of View. In other implementations, howeVer, the
The case shown has specific openings sized, shaped, and
field of View can be any desired number of degrees, less than
positioned at particular locations. These openings are cusor greater than 31 degrees. The angle of View proVided by the
tomized for smartphone 101 as described aboVe and shown in
case will depend on the field of View of the camera of the
FIG. 1C. It should be appreciated that there may be any
phone and will generally be at least as wide as the carnera’s
40
number of openings in the upper and lower portions of the
field of View, so that the lens hood will not appear in the
case to allow features of a portable electronic deVice to be
photos taken by the camera. In an implementation, the camera
accessible to a user. The openings may haVe any size, any
has a field of View of about 30-32 degrees, and the correshape, any combination of sizes, or any combination of
sponding camera opening in the case is at least about 30-32
shapes. There can be more, fewer, or different openings from
degrees or wider. For example, the angle of View of the
those shown for the case in the figures. The openings can be 45 camera opening can range from about 25-60 degrees.
positioned at different locations than that shown.
In a specific implementation, the lens hood for the lower
FIG. 20 shows a cross section of a case with a phone, when
case portion has a length of about 3.7 millimeters from openplaced face down on a table 2004 or other flat or relatiVely flat
ing 156 to opening 1208. HoweVer, the length ofthe lens hood
surface. For example, the case with phone may be placed on
can be any desired length and Vary on a number of factors
a countertop, Vanity, hot tub edge, window sill, chair, sofa, or 50 such as a thickness of the battery. For example, in other
floor. The front of the case has front opening 204 (see FIG. 2)
implementations, the hood length can Vary from about 2.8
and along a border of this opening are frame edges 2009.
millimeters to about millimeters. The length can be less than
These frame edges hold the phone in the case and also raise
2.8 millimeters (e.g., for a thin battery) or greater than 4.5
the phone slightly off the surface of the table.
millimeters (e.g., for a jumbo battery). Generally, the thicker
This feature helps protect the front face of the phone from 55 battery 2317 is, the longer the lens hood. A thickerbattery (for
damage (e.g., scratching) since the front face does not touch
the same two-dimensional area) also usually means greater
the surface when in the face-down position. Thus, for
battery capacity.
example, the user can rub the face-down case and phone on
The case has the camera openings to allow a user to take
the surface (as if sanding the surface using a sanding block),
pictures with the phone’ s camera without remoVing the phone
60
and the phone’s front face and screen will not be damaged.
from the case. When the phone is placed in the case, the
In a specific embodiment, the frame edges ofthe case form
phone’s camera lens aligns behind the lower case portion’s
a plane. This plane is generally, depending on a flatness of the
camera openings 156 and 1208, and the upper case portion’s
table surface, approximately planar with a plane of the table
camera opening 424 so that the camera lens’ View is unobsurface. The frame edges raise the phone’ s screen from about
structed. A picture taken with the phone in the case will not
0.25 millimeters to about 2.5 millimeters aboVe the plane of 65 capture the sides or edges of the camera openings.
the frame edges. For example, a distance from the phone’s
The built-in lens hood ofthe case is a feature that improVes
screen to the table’s surface can be 0.5, 0.8, 1, 1.2, or 1.5
the picture taking of the camera. Without a lens hood, sun or
US 7,612,997 B1
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16
other light can more easily strike the camera lens and cause
unwanted flaring, glare, uneven lighting, and shadows in the
photos. The lens hood of this case helps prevent such undesired effects.
positioned so that they align with a bottom edge of screen 132
ofthe phone. As shown in FIG. 24, with the phone in the case,
the bottom edge of touch screen 132 is in-line with lines
2404a and 2404b. In other implementations, the seam lines
can be at other positions. For example, the seam line can be
aligned with an upper edge of screen 132, or anywhere
between the upper and lower edges of the screen.
The lens hood also protects the lens ofthe camera. The lens
hood protrudes from the camera lens a certain distance, preventing inadvertent touches and scratches to the lens. Without
a lens hood, the camera lens is more vulnerable to accidental
contact (e.g., bumping against a surface), potentially resulting in damage to the camera lens. The lens hood also helps to
shelter the camera lens from dust, rain, and other elements.
Without a lens hood, for example, rain drops can more easily
hit the camera lens. The lens hood of this case helps prevent
such damage.
The area of camera opening 1208 is greater than the area of
camera opening 156. A lens hood surface between the two
camera openings is conical or frustoconical. The greater the
size of camera opening 1208 is as compared to camera opening 156 helps to increase the peripheral field that can be
captured by the camera and helps to ensure that the camera
does not capture the sides or edges of camera opening 1208
when taking pictures. The area of camera opening 424 is
greater than the area of camera opening 1208.
It is desirable to have the diameter ofthe upper case portion
camera opening larger than the camera openings of the lower
case portions. Similarly, it is desirable to have the camera
opening in the back of the lower case portion larger than the
camera opening in the front of the lower case portion.
In a specific embodiment, camera openings 156, 424, and
1208 are circular. However in other implementations, the
camera openings can be any shape or closed polygon (e.g.,
not a semicircle or arc), such as a triangle, square, rectangle,
trapezoid, or other. Generally, openings 156, 424, and 1208
will have a similar shape and openings closer to the camera
lens will be smaller than those further away. Generally, a
cross-sectional area of a closed-polygon opening 156 will be
less than a cross-sectional area of a closed-polygon opening
1208, which will be less than a cross-sectional area of a
closed-polygon opening 424.
For a circular camera opening, in a specific embodiment,
the inside diameter ofcamera opening 156 is approximately 6
millimeters, the diameter of camera opening 1208 is approximately 11-12 millimeters, and the diameter of camera opening 424 is approximately 12.2 millimeters. In other implementations, the diameters of the openings can have any
desired size or shape. For example, opening 156 can range
from about 2 millimeters to about 12 millimeters. Opening
1208 can range from about 4 millimeters to about 24 millimeters. Opening 424 can range from about 5 millimeters to
about 25 millimeters. A ratio of opening 1208 to opening 156
is from about 1.721 to about 2.25:1. Generally, the openings
are larger than the camera lens and sufficiently large so that
the case does not appear in photographs.
FIG. 24 shows the front of a case with an electronic device
The upper case portion securely engages (e.g., by overlap10 ping) to the phone and lower case portion, so the upper case
portion will not inadvertently slide off or otherwise detach.
Also, in an implementation, when the user grips the phone in
a portrait orientation, part of the hand (e.g., thumb and forefinger) is holding onto the upper case portion, while the palm
15 of the hand is pushing against the lower case portion (urging
the lower case portion toward the upper case portion).
Further, aligning seam lines 2404a and 2404b with the
bottom edge of the touch screen provides for a symmetrical
arrangement and appearance of the visual elements of the
20 phone and case. This enhances the smartphone experience for
the user, allowing the user to easily locate the display both
visually and tactilely (because the user can feel for the seam).
In an implementation, for the front ofthe case (see FIG. 3),
the seam line is at about 30 millimeters from a bottom edge of
25
the case. A case length is about 130 millimeters. This seam
line divides the case at about 0.23 of the whole. In other
implementations, the seam line can be at other positions (e.g.,
ranging from about 15 millimeters to about 50 millimeters)
and have other ratios (e.g., ranging from 0.10 to 0.50 of the
30
whole).
In an implementation, for the back ofthe case (see FIG. 4),
the seam line is at about 35 millimeters from a bottom edge of
the case. A case length is about 130 millimeters. This seam
line divides the case at about 0.27 of the whole. In other
35
implementations, the seam line can be at other positions (e.g.,
ranging from about 15 millimeters to about 50 millimeters)
and have other ratios (e.g., ranging from 0.10 to 0.50 of the
whole).
In a specific implementation, seam lines 2404a and 2404b
40
in the front of the case are about X of a length of the joined
case, and a seam line for the back of the case is aboutY of a
length ofthe joined case. X andY are numbers andY is greater
than X.
The seam line for the front and back differ because the
45
seam line is angled on the sides of the case (see FIGS. 5 and
6). In other implementations, the seam line can be angled
even more on the sides so that a difference between the ratios
in the front and back is greater. The seam line can be angled
50 less on the sides so that a difference between the ratios in the
front and back is less or 0, or the ratio is larger in front and less
in back.
Further, a distance 2416 between a bottom edge of front
opening 204 and the seam line is about 16 millimeters. A
55 length offront opening 204 is about 109.5 millimeters. Therein the case. As described above, the upper case portion slides
fore, the seam line divides the front opening at about 0.146 of
over the lower case portion. Where the upper and lower case
the whole. In other implementations, distance 2416 can vary,
portions meet, there are sean1 lines 2404a and 2404b in the
depending on for example the screen size, in a range from
front ofthe case (see also FIG. 3). The seam line (from 240411
about 8 millimeters to about 32 millimeters. The seam line
to 2404b) runs around the entire case (e.g., across the back of
60 will divide the opening in a range, for example, from about
the case). FIG. 4 shows the seam line for the back, and FIGS.
0.10 to about 0.50 of the whole.
5 and 6 show the seam lines for the sides. At the seam, the
FIG. 25 shows a back view of the assembled case where a
surfaces of the lower and upper case portions are relatively
flush with each other. The seam line remains visible and can
region ofthe back surface, indicated by box 2504, is relatively
be felt tactilely.
flat. The flat portion ofthe back surface ensures the electronic
65
The seam line for the case is positioned to ensure the upper
device and case will be stable (e.g., not rock back and forth)
and lower case portions are securely attached to each other. In
when the case is placed on its back on a table. See also FIGS.
5-8 which show various views of the case’s flat back surface.
a specific implementation, seam lines 2404a and 2404b are
US 7,612,997 B1
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18
Even if the electronic device does not have a flat back, the flat
The lower case portion includes a circuitry 2616 which is
portion of the case ensures the electronic device will be stable
connected to inner connector 168, a case battery 2317, a
when placed on a table.
battery status indicator 2620, a synchronization indicator
As shown in the figure, both the upper and lower case
2624, a user input element 2628, an outer connector 2632, and
portions have sections which are flat. Where the upper and
audio-video (AV) openings 2636. A cable 2640 having conlower case portions meet, a seam line 2508 divides the upper
nectors 2644 and 2648 may be used to connect the case to a
and lower case portions. As shown, the flat case section of the
computer 2652, a power source 2656, or both.
lower case portion is smaller in terms of area than the flat
As a specific example, this application discusses the porsection of the upper case portion. The seam where the upper 10
table electronic device as being a smartphone. However, as
and lower case portions meet is flush, so the seam does not
already discussed above, it should be understood that this is
cause the case to be unstable.
merely for discussion, and that the portable electronic device
The flat back surface ensures stability when the case is
can be any device type and may be a device other than a
placed on its back, regardless of how the back of the phone is
telephony device.
shaped. This feature creates a steady and stable surface and 15
ensures that the electronic device will not slide or wobble as
In addition to making and receiving telephone calls, many
modern smartphones and other portable electronic devices
a result ofbeing placed, for instance, on a table. For example,
include a multitude of other features. These features include
an electronic device may be curved in all directions (e.g., no
data storage, music playing, picture taking, video recording,
flat surfaces at all) or have a design where the back will not be
stable when placed on a table. The design may have notches, 20 and games. Further, these devices include vivid color displays, cameras, speakers, speakerphone, nonvolatile storage,
indentations, or other structures (possibly ornamental) that
touchscreens, and others. Such features use power. And the
cause the phone to not lie stably on its back. Despite this,
more such features are used, the shorter the battery life.
when the phone is in the case, because ofthe flat back, the case
Many users depend on their smartphones to coordinate
will rest securely on its back.
As shown in FIG. 25, rectangular flat surface 2504 is cen- 25 their schedules, check and read e-mail, send e-mail, browse
Web pages, talk to their loved ones and family (e.g., calling
tered in back of the assembled case. That is, the distance
mom on Mother’s Day), talk to business associates, record
surrounding the flat back surface is equal at opposite sides. In
video, upload a video onto a social networking Web site, map
other implementations, however, the flat back surface may be
their locations, navigate using GPS and voice guidance ofthe
located anywhere on the back of the case portions. Further,
the flat back surface may be of any size, any shape, any 30 phone, edit documents, and much more. Therefore, it is
important that a smartphone has sufficient power capacity to
combination of sizes, or any combination of shapes. For
last through the day until the smartphone can be recharged.
example, the flat back surface may have a circular or oval
shape. The flat region may be rectangular with rounded corWhile smartphone capabilities have increased dramatiners.
cally in recent years, batteries have not kept pace. FurtherThe flat back surface is typically sufficiently sized to make 35 more, since smartphones are used for so many different
things, it can be catastrophic if the smartphone runs out of
the case stable when placed on its back. In an implementation,
power. Compounding the problem is that many of today’s
the size ofthe flat back surface can vary and the proportion of
smartphones have integrated or proprietary batteries that canthe area (2504) that is flat to the area that is not flat (case back
not be easily replaced. Moreover, even if the batteries are
outside box 2504) can vary. In another implementation, the
flat back surface area is larger than the electronic device the 40 designed to be replaced by the user, it is cumbersome to carry
around extra batteries.
case is holding. The flat back surface area can be larger than
a flat back surface area provided by the electronic device
The case, with its built-in battery (i.e., battery 2317), alleitself.
viates this problem by providing additional power to the
phone. Various implementations of the case double, triple, or
In a specific implementation, dimensions for flat surface
section 2504 are about 100 millimeters by about 40 millime- 45 quadruple the battery life of the phone or the amount of time
that the user can use the phone.
ters. Dimensions for the case are about 130 millimeters by
about 66.2 millimeters. The area ratio between the flat surface
The case has numerous modes of operation. FIGS. 27 and
section 2504 and the total case dimensions is about 0.465 (i.e.,
28 show tables listing the various modes. For the case to
4000 square millimeters/8606 square millimeters). However,
provide extended battery life, the user charges the case batin other implementations, the ratio can be in the range from 50 tery. To do so, the user connects a power source via a cable
about 0.333 to about 0.6.
(e.g., USB cable) to the case’s outer connector (e.g., mini-B
USB connector). Upon connecting the cable, the case will be
For the centered square section, a distance between a botin a power-up mode (described in FIG. 27) during which at
tom edge of the lower case portion and a bottom edge of the
flat back surface is about 13 millimeters. Likewise, a distance
least one of the indicator lights (e.g., LEDs) of the case lights
55 momentarily. To enter this mode, the phone does not need to
between a top edge ofthe upper case portion and a top edge of
the flat back surface is about 13 millimeters. Further, a disbe in the case; but if the phone is in the case, the user will be
able to use the phone normally. This may be referred to as a
tance between a left edge ofthe assembled case and a left edge
of the flat back surface is about 15 millimeters. Likewise, a
normal operating mode for the phone.
distance between a right edge of the assembled case and a
When entering the power-up mode, the indicator lights tum
60 on in order to indicate to the user that the case has been
right edge of the flat back surface is about 15 millimeters.
FIG. 26 shows a functional block diagram of a case for
powered up. Power-up may be indicated to the user using any
holding a portable electronic device 2601 having a battery
visual (or audible) indication. In a specific implementation,
2604. As discussed above, the case has an upper case portion
for example, one of the LEDs tums on for a short time and
2608 and a lower case portion 2612. The electronic device is
then turns off. In another implementation, each of the LEDs
65
inserted into the lower case portion and is connected to inner
may tum on and off in sequence. In another implementation,
connector 168, and the upper case portion slides over the
at least one LED turns on and stays on while the case is
electronic device and a portion of the lower case portion.
connected to a charging source. In this implementation, the
US 7,612,997 B1
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20
number of lights turned on is proportional to the battery life
and the number of lights increases as the battery life
increases.
In a specific implementation, the lighting indicators emit a
blue or bluish light (e.g., blue LED). However, in other implementations, the lighting indicators can emit any color or
wavelength of light as desired. For example, the color can be
red, green, yellow, white, or purple, or any combination of
these. Also, two different indicator lights ofthe same case can
emit two different colors. The color ofthe light may be a result
of the LED color itself or a cover over the LED light (e.g.,
white LED light is covered by a bluish lighting cover).
FIG. 29 shows a specific implementation where no indicator lights tum on, indicating the case battery is discharged or
has a very low level of charge. FIG. 31 shows the leftmost
indicator light (290411) turning on, indicating that the case has
a minimal charge. More indicator lights turn on in FIG. 31
than in FIG. 29, indicating that the case battery in FIG. 31 has
a higher level of charge than the case battery in FIG. 29.
FIG. 32 shows three indicator lights (290411-c) turning on
to indicate an approximately half-charged battery. A greater
number oflights tum on in FIG. 32 than in FIGS. 29 and 31,
indicating that the case battery in FIG. 32 has a higher level of
charge than the case battery in FIGS. 29 and 31. FIG. 33
shows a specific implementation of five indicator lights
(290411-e) tuming on to indicate a fully charged battery. A
greater number of indicator lights turn on in FIG. 33 than in
FIG. 32, indicating that the case battery in FIG. 33 has a
higher level of charge (e.g., more juice) than the case battery
in FIG. 32.
FIG. 29 shows a specific arrangement of indicator lights
2904a-e (e.g., LEDs, laser diodes, light bulbs, neon bulbs, or
other lighting) for the case, where a case button 2908 is
centered below the indicator lights. In this specific arrangement, a line extending between indicator light 2904a and
2904b does not pass through case button 2908. In a specific
implementation, the indicator lights are positioned horizontally on the back of the lower case portion and a line segment
extends from indicator lights 2904a-e. The case button is
positioned transverse to the line segment and equidistance to
ends of the line segment.
The indicator lights and case button have a circular shape.
In an implementation, the indicator light cover and case button are flush with the case surface. Generally, the case button
is located near the indictor lights. However, in other implementations, the case button can have any shape (e.g., square,
rectangle, triangle, and oval) and may be located anywhere on
the case. There can be any number of case buttons (e.g., one,
two, three, or four or more).
Further, although the indicator lights are positioned horizontally on the back of the lower case portion (see FIGS. 4
and 12), in other implementations the indicator lights can be
in a different location or be arranged differently (e.g., offcenter or vertically arranged). Also, there may be any number
of lights (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or more than 8) and the
openings for the indicator lights may have any shape (e.g.,
circle, square, rectangle, or triangle).
In a specific implementation of the power-up mode, as
shown in FIG. 30, the right-most indicator light (2904e) tums
on momentarily and then tums off (e.g., flashes or blinks) to
indicate that the case is connected to a power source.
The power source may be a power socket, power receptacle, or power outlet in the user’s home or office. As another
example, the cable may be connected to a cigarette lighter
socket in the user’s car or boat. This allows, for example, the
user to charge the case battery while driving. The cable can be
connected to a computer’s USB port or any other power
source.
From the power-up mode, the case can enter the charge
case battery mode. FIG. 27 describes the charge case battery
mode. Power from the cable connected to the case outer
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While charging the case battery in the charge case battery
30 mode, the phone does not need to be in the case. If the phone
is in the case, the case will also be in the charge phone battery
mode listed in FIG. 27. When the phone battery becomes
discharged, the case battery will, via inner connector 168,
charge and top off the phone’s battery as needed. The case
35 will continue to charge the phone battery as needed until the
case battery becomes completely discharged.
If the outer connector is not connected to power, the case
can be in the charge phone battery mode as long as there is
charge in the case battery, but the case will no longer be in the
40 charge case battery mode.
When the user connects a power source via a cable (e.g.,
USB cable) to the case’s outer connector, the case will be
placed in charge phone battery mode. The case will continue
to charge and top off the phone battery as needed. Also see
45 discussion regarding sleep mode below.
The phone may indicate to the user that the phone is charging. In a specific implementation, the phone’s screen displays
an icon (e.g., lightning bolt) to indicate that the phone is
charging. When the phone becomes fully charged, the
50 phone’s screen informs the user (e.g., icon changes from a
lightning bolt to a plug symbol).
As discussed, the case also has a battery gauge such as
shown in FIG. 29. While in the charge phone battery mode,
the user can press the case button and determine the case
55 battery life remaining by reading the fuel gauge. Upon pressing the case button, the case will simultaneously be in the fuel
gauge mode. The fuel gauge mode is described in FIG. 27 and
above.
connector will charge the case battery. Circuitry (described
below) in the case will control charging of the battery until it
is fully charged.
While in the charge case battery mode, the user can press
the case button and determine the battery life remaining in the
case battery by reading the fuel gauge. Upon pres sing the case
button, the case will be in a fuel gauge mode as described in
FIG. 27. If the case battery is charged, an appropriate number
of indicator lights will light to indicate a charge level of the
case battery. To enter this mode, the phone does not need to be
in the case; but if the phone is in the case, the phone will be in
normal operating mode.
While in fuel gauge mode, the case battery life may be
If the case is not connected to a power source and the case
indicated to the user using any visual (or audible) indication.
60 battery is at a charge level below a certain threshold (i.e., a
In a specific implementation, the indicator lights tum on from
sleep mode level of charge), the case will enter a sleep mode.
left to right and each indicator light that tums on indicates an
For example, when the case battery is completely discharged,
additional level of charge for the case battery. In this specific
the case will be in sleep mode.
implementation, the number of LEDs lighting up is proportional to the case battery life. In another specific implemenThe sleep mode is described in FIG. 27. While in the sleep
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tation, the indicator lights tum on from right to left and each
mode, the case becomes inactive (e.g., the case button and
indicator light that tums on indicates an additional level of
case indicator lights are not functional) and the user will be
charge for the case battery.
unable to get a battery reading. The sleep mode will not affect
US 7,612,997 B1
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the phone. The phone will be in normal operating mode as
long as the phone has sufiicient charge. The case will not draw
any power from the phone.
In an implementation of the sleep mode, the user connects
power to the outer connector of the case in order to charge the
case battery. The case battery will be charged for some
amount of time before charging of the phone battery begins.
For example, this amount of time may be about five minutes,
but the exact amount of time (e.g., two, three, six, or more
minutes) will depend on a number of factors including the
charging current and the level of charge remaining in the
battery. The amount of time will vary depending on how long
it will take for the case battery to be charged to a level above
the sleep mode level of charge.
When the case battery has been charged above the sleep
mode level of charge, the case exits sleep mode and enters
power-up mode. The case battery will be used to charge the
phone battery, as needed. The case button and case indicator
lights will work. When the user presses the case button, the
user will get a battery reading from the fuel gauge.
Note that if the phone battery is completely discharged,
similar to the situation with the sleep mode discussed in this
implementation, the phone battery may need to be charged to
some level before becoming active and operate normally. For
example, this amount of time may be about five minutes, but
will vary depending on the charging current and level of
charge of the phone battery.
In another implementation of the sleep mode, when the
user connects a power source via a cable (e.g., USB cable) to
the case’s outer connector, the case will immediately charge
the phone battery and the case battery. Both the phone and
case batteries will be charged in parallel. The power from the
USB cable is used to charge the phone battery even ifthe case
battery does not have a minimum level of charge.
In an implementation, the case has an extended sleep mode,
which is not the same as the sleep mode described above. The
extended sleep mode is described in FIG. 28. The case enters
the extended sleep mode when no phone is connected to the
case and power is not connected to the outside connector of
the case. When in the extended sleep mode, circuitry of the
case will use less power so the case will retain its battery
power for relatively longer periods of time. For example, for
the extended sleep mode, some inactive circuits or portions of
the circuit will be turned off so they do not draw power.
The extended sleep mode extends the case battery life. In a
specific implementation, the case will retain charge seven
weeks or more (when starting with a fully charged case battery). However, in various implementations, the battery life
during extended sleep mode can vary and may be one week,
ten days, two weeks, three weeks, six weeks, less than one
week, or more than seven weeks.
When the case is in the extended sleep mode, the user can
exit the extended sleep mode by any one of three ways. An
implementation of a case ofthe invention can have any one of
or a combination of the following three ways to exit the
extended sleep mode.
1. Connecting a phone to the case. Then, the case will
return to the charge phone battery mode.
2. Pressing the case button. Then the case will go to the fuel
gauge mode, and the case will display the status of the case
battery. After a period of time after the button press, the case
can reenter the extended sleep mode.
3. Connecting the case via the cable to a power source.
Then the case will go to the charge case battery mode.
To charge the phone battery, the user will insert the phone
into the case. When the phone is initially inserted into the case
and the case battery and phone battery are charged, the case
22
enters initial phone connect mode (described in FIG. 28)
during which the circuitry in the case authenticates with the
phone.
In a specific embodiment, the case circuitry includes an
authentication chip which allows the case to communicate
with the phone. If the case does not have this authentication
chip, the case is not authenticated.
In another specific embodiment, the case circuitry imple10 ments a handshaking protocol by sending a self-identification
signal to the phone. If the phone recognizes the signal, the
phone can accept the signal and authenticate the case. If the
phone does not recognize the signal, the case is not authenticated.
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In another embodiment, the authentication process uses
certificates, which get exchanged with the electronic device
and opens up communication channels once these certificates
have been exchanged and authenticated.
Upon putting the phone in the case, ifthe case authenticates
with the phone, the phone will display its normal screen and
no warning messages regarding the case will appear on the
phone screen.
In a specific implementation, if the phone does not authenticate the case, it cannot be presented as a valid accessory and
the phone screen displays a warning message. This warning
message may be referred to as a “nag message,” informing the
user that the case is not a valid accessory or has not been
approved by the manufacturer of the phone. In a specific
implementation, the warning message is “This accessory is
not designed for this phone. This accessory might cause interference, do you wish to enable airplane mode?” and will
appear on the phone’s screen.
In some embodiments, regardless of the authentication
results, after the waming message is displayed, the phone will
enter a normal operating mode and the user can continue
using the phone normally. The case battery will provide
extended battery life for the phone.
While the phone is in the case (e.g., in the charge phone
battery mode), the user can synchronize the phone with a
second electronic device. To do so, the user pushes and holds
the case button for about three seconds. The case will enter a
synchronization or sync mode described in FIG. 28. The
period of time for which the user holds the case button for to
enter the sync mode can be set to any value, such as in a range
from two to fifteen seconds; the longer the time period, the
less likely the user can accidentally enter the sync mode.
In a specific implementation, the second electronic device
is a computer. While in the sync mode, the case is ready for the
phone to synchronize with the computer. If the case is connected to a computer via the cable (e.g., USB cable), the user
can synchronize data between the phone and the computer,
send data from the phone to the computer, send data from the
computer to the phone, or any combination ofthese. Synchronization includes synchronizing calendar information, contact information (e.g., names, addresses, phone numbers),
music files, video files, and e-mail between the phone and the
computer.
While the case is in the sync mode, the phone is also in a
sync mode when the phone is ready to transfer or receive data
from the computer. In a specific embodiment, the user can
determine the status of the phone by looking at its screen. In
a specific implementation, to indicate the phone is in the sync
mode, the phone’s screen may display a sync status symbol or
a not charging symbol, or both.
In another implementation, the second electronic device
may be an electronic device (e.g., mobile phone, PDA, smartphone, pager, audio player, media player, portable media
US 7,612,997 B1
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player, game console, server), software (e.g., iTunes or Windows Media Player), or a service (e.g., iTunes Store, Urge, or
Rhapsody).
The case does not need to be connected to a computer to
enter the sync mode. Ifthe user connects the case via the cable
to a computer within about 30 seconds, then the user will be
able to synchronize the phone with the computer. If the user
does not connect the cable to a computer within 30 seconds,
however, the case will automatically exit the sync mode (e.g.,
returning to the charge phone battery mode). An automatic
time out of 30 seconds for the synchronization mode is provided as an example, and the time out value can vary from
about 3 seconds to about 3 minutes. For example, the time out
value can be 15, 40, 50, 60, 180, or 360 seconds.
In a specific implementation, upon entering the sync mode,
the case exits other modes. For example, if the case is in the
charge case battery mode, the case will exit this mode upon
entering the sync mode and the case battery will stop charging. Similarly, ifthe case is in the charge phone battery mode,
the case will exit this mode upon entering the sync mode and
the case will stop charging the phone battery.
The sync mode may be indicated to the user using any
visual (or audible) indication. A synchronization indicator
indicates to the user that the phone is ready to be synchronized
with the computer. The synchronization indicator may also
indicate when the phone is not ready to be synchronized,
whether or not the synchronization is complete, whether or
not there was an error in synchronization, and so forth.
Synchronization can be indicated via the indicator lights.
For example, a lighting ofan LED will indicate to the user that
the case is in the sync mode. In a specific embodiment, for
example, one of the LEDs blinks continuously. In other
embodiments, a different number ofLEDs blink continuously
or a number of LEDs blink twice and turn off. In a specific
embodiment of the sync mode, as shown in FIG. 30, LED
2904e will blink continuously to indicate to the user that the
phone is ready to synchronize with another device.
The case may be unable to enter the sync mode under
certain circumstances. For example, when the case is in the
sleep mode, the case button and indicator lights do not work.
The phone cannot synchronize with another electronic device
because the case requires a minimal amount of power for its
electronic board to support the synching mechanism. So, if
the user pushes and holds the case button for three seconds,
this will have no effect on the case and the case will not enter
prevents the user from inadvertently exiting the sync mode by
intentionally or unintentionally pressing the case button.
When the case exits the sync mode, the indicator lights will
turn off (or turn on) to indicate that the case is no longer in the
sync mode. For example, when indicator light 2904e blinks
continuously to indicate the sync mode, this indicator light
turns off to indicate the case is no longer in the sync mode.
When the case exits the sync mode, the phone will also exit
the sync mode and no longer transfer data to and from the
computer. Upon exiting the sync mode, the phone will enter
the normal operating mode and the user can use the phone
normally (e.g., make a phone call to Claudia Schiffer, send a
text message to Beyonce, play a Nena song, play computer
baseball with Tim Lincecum, or call Jenny at 867-5309).
Referring back to FIG. 26, the case battery is typically a
rechargeable type. In a specific embodiment, the case battery
is a rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery. This battery
can be charged, used, and recharged many times (e.g., about
500 times). Other rechargeable battery types may be used. For
example, some other rechargeable type batteries include
nickel cadmium (NiCd), nickel metal hydride (NiMH),
lithium ion, lithium polymer, lead acid, and other rechargeable battery chemistries.
In an implementation, the case battery is integrated with
the case and the battery is not replaceable by the user. One
benefit of this design is that it allows for a smaller and more
compact case as compared to a case with a replaceable battery
because there is no additional interface (e.g., battery cover)
that interferes with the profile of the case.
In another implementation, the battery is replaceable by the
user. For example, the battery may be a rechargeable type
such that after the battery has been drained and recharged
after a threshold number of cycles, the battery is replaceable
by the user. As another example, the battery may be a disposable battery (e.g., N, AA, AAA, or C cell battery) such that
after the battery is drained, the user removes the drained
battery from the case, and installs a new battery.
The user input element (e.g., case button) allows a user to
communicate with the case. In a specific embodiment, the
user input element is a button that the user can push. Pushing
the button displays the battery status indicator, the synchronization indicator, or both. In a specific embodiment, at least
one LED functions as a battery status indicator and as a
synchronization indicator. In this specific embodiment, pushing the button for a first threshold time period lights a first
LED in a first mode. In the first mode, the LED is solid and
indicates a battery status. Pushing the button for a second
threshold time period (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 seconds),
greater than the first threshold time period, lights the first
LED in a second mode, different from the first mode. In the
second mode, the LED is blinking and indicates a synchronization status.
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the sync mode.
When the case is in the sync mode, the user can exit the
sync mode (described in FIG. 28) by any one of three ways.
An implementation of a case of the invention can have any
50
one of or a combination ofthe following three ways to exit the
sync mode.
1. Not connecting the case via the cable to the computer
within thirty seconds (or other time out value). After thirty
The modes associated with a pattem may vary. For
seconds elapses, the case will retum to the charge phone
example, to indicate a battery status, an LED may blink twice
55
battery mode.
or all the LEDs may flash one after the other from left to right.
2. Disconnecting the cable from the case or the computer.
Also, a blinking LED in a first pattem may indicate that the
Since the case is no longer connected to the computer, the
phone is ready to be synchronized. A blinking LED in a
phone can no longer synchronize with the computer. The case
second pattem, different from the first pattem, may indicate
will retum to the charge phone battery mode.
that synchronization is complete.
60
3. Pressing the case button. Then the case will go to the fuel
Further, the blinks may be in any pattem. Some examples
gauge mode, and the case will display the status of the case
ofpattems include a long blink, followed by a short blink; two
battery. Then, the case will return to the charge phone battery
long blinks followed by three short blinks; one short blink,
mode.
followed by two long blinks. In a specific implementation, all
In a specific implementation, for example, the user can
the LEDs blink twice to indicate there is a problem with
65
only exit the sync mode using the first two options and not the
recharging the battery.
third option. So, once the case is in the sync mode, the user
It should be appreciated that there may be any number of
carmot exit the sync mode by pressing the case button. This
user input elements or buttons. It should also be appreciated
US 7,612,997 B1
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26
that the user input elements may not necessarily be a button.
For example, the user input element may be a microphone to
accept a voice command from the user. As another example,
the user input element may be a touch screen or a sliding
switch that the user slides back and forth.
can have any number or combination of pins and shapes in
order to interface with the portable electronic device that the
case is designed for.
The audio-video (A/V) openings include one or more holes
or openings in the lower case portion, the upper case portion,
or both. These openings direct audio information, video information, or both from the phone to the user. These openings 10
also allow the phone to receive audio information, video
information, or both.
The cable may be any type of cable having any number of
wires that can electronically connect the case to the computer
or power source. In a specific embodiment, the cable is a USB
cable (e.g., USB 2.0 cable) where connector 2644 is a USB
mini-A plug (or male connector) and connector 2648 is a USB
type-B plug (or male connector). The cable allows battery
2317, battery 2604, or both to be charged by the computer,
power source, or both. The cable also allows the portable
electronic device and the computer (or other device) to be
synchronized.
In another embodiment, connector 2648 is plugged into an
automotive cigarette lighter plug (e.g., 12 volt automotive
lighter plug, 6 volt automotive lighter plug), a type A flat
blade electrical plug, or a type B flat blade with round grounding pin plug. However, different parts of the world use different types of electrical plugs. For example, a type C plug is
common in Europe. The U.S. Department of Commerce,
International Trade Administration publication Eleczric CurrenzAbroad, 1998 edition, reprinted 2002, which is incorporated by reference, describes different types of electrical
plugs used in different parts of the world, which are suitable
for use as connector 2648 of the present invention.
The length of the cable ranges from about 0.3 meters to
about 5 meters. The cable may also be less than 0.3 meters or
more than 4. 9 meters. The variations in cable length reflect the
many different preferences that users may have. For example,
some users may desire a longer cable so that they can place the
case further away from the second electronic device. Other
users may desire a shorter cable to lessen the likelihood that
the cable will become tangled.
The cable, however, is optional and is not included in some
implementations of the invention. In this specific embodiment, the outer connector includes wireless capabilities. For
example, the outer connector may be a wireless transceiver, a
wireless receiver, or a wireless transmitter. This allows the
case and computer or power source to communicate wirelessly. Such wireless communication may be accomplished
using any wireless technology (e.g., infrared, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, radio frequency, microwave, 802.1 1, 802.1 1a, 802.11b,
802.11g, 802.11-2007, and 802.11n, or wireless USB). Such
wireless features may also allow batteries 2317, 2604, or both
to be wirelessly charged (e.g., resonance charging).
FIG. 34 shows a circuit block diagram for the case. This
diagram shows more details of circuitry 2616 and components of lower case portion 2612. The circuit blocks in this
figure implement the functionality and modes of the case
described above.
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Through connector 3404, the case circuitry interfaces with
the phone, such as for charging the phone’s battery and synchronizing. To charge the phone battery, power from a lithium
battery 3412 is passed through a DC-to-DC converter block
3416 and connector 3404 to the phone. To synchronize data,
input-output (I/O) via a mini-USB connector 3420 is passed
through wires 3424 (i.e., differential D+ and D— signals)
through USB resistors 3428, converter 3416, connector 3404
to the phone.
An implementation ofthe case uses a mini-USB connector
(e.g., USB mini-B). However other connectors may be used
such as USB type A, type B, mini-A, micro-AB, or micro-B.
Also, other types of connectors such as FireWire (i.e., an
IEEE 1394 interface, i.LINK, or Lynx), eSATA, or a proprietary connector may be used instead or in addition.
Through an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter circuit 3432,
analog data can be converted to digital data for the phone.
Digital data from the phone can be converted into analog form
for further processing, or vice versa. For example, A/D converter circuit 3432 is connected to battery 3412 and is used to
collect analog measurement information (e.g., voltage level)
about the battery. This information is converted to digital
form by the A/D converter and used in the fuel gauge algorithms (see discussion on fuel gauge mode above) to determine and indicate the charge level of the battery.
In a specific implementation, when an electronic device is
connected to the case, the electronic device looks for an
authentication or handshaking signal (e.g., sending of an
authentication code). Ifthe device does not receive the proper
authentication, the device may display a message (e.g., nag
message) that the case is not an authorized peripheral for the
device or the device can simply not allow the case circuitry to
interface with the phone (e.g., not allow charging or synchronization).
An authentication circuit 3440 can be included in the circuitry to provide proper authentication to the electronic
device. This authentication circuit can connect to the other
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The case has a connector 3404 for connecting to a portable
electronic device 3408 which the case is designed for. In a
specific implementation, the portable electronic device is a
smartphone having a 30-pin connector. So, the case has a
corresponding 30-pin inner connector that fits into the
65
phone’s connector. For example, the case includes a male
inner connector that fits into the phone’s female connector. In
other implementations, however, the case’s inner connector
circuitry of the case through a microcontroller (uC) 3444
interface. In a specific implementation, microcontroller 3444
is the ATMega32 from Atmel.
When the authentication circuit is present, the user, for
example, will not see a nag message on the phone. In an
implementation, when the authentication circuit is not
present, the user will see a nag message, but afterwards, the
case will still function (e.g., provide the functionality
described in the tables in FIGS. 27 and 28) with the device.
The case has lithium-ion polymer battery 3412 to provide
extra charge and capacity for the phone. See above discussion
for more detail on the functionality. In an implementation,
case battery 3412 has a nominal capacity of 1390 milliamphours. The capacity can range from about 1330 milliamphours to about 1490 milliamp-hours. In comparison, the electronic device’s battery capacity is approximately 1150
milliamp-hours. So, with the addition of case battery 3412,
the device’s battery life will approximately double.
In a specific implementation, the case battery has a length
of about 74 millimeters, a width of about 41 millimeters, and
a thickness ofabout 4.2 millimeters (after swelling). A weight
of the battery is about 28 grams. A discharging operating
temperature for the battery is about -20 degrees Celsius to
about 60 degrees Celsius. The battery can be recharged using
a standard charging current (665 milliarnps at 4.2 volts) in
US 7,612,997 B1
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about 2.5 hours or a rapid charging current (1330 milliamps at
4.2 volts) in about 1.5 hours. The battery provides an output
voltage of about 3.7 volts.
The case includes circuitry for charging case battery 3412.
Power is supplied through USB connector 3420 to a battery
charging circuit 3448, which is connected to the battery. The
battery charging circuit supplies the voltages and currents to
the battery for charging, and can detect when the battery is
fully charged (at which point circuit 3448 stops charging the
battery). The charging circuit can also include a DC-to-DC
converter to convert the voltage received at the USB connector (e.g., 5 volts) to the voltage used to charge the battery (e.g.,
4.2 volts). Battery charging circuit 3448 may be implemented
using an integrated circuit manufactured, for example, by
Linear Technology Corporation, Maxim Integrated Products,
Incorporated, or National Semiconductor Corporation.
A battery control circuit 3452 is connected to battery
charging circuit 3448 to control its operation. For example,
the battery control circuit can direct the charging circuit to
charge the battery or stop charging the battery, such as when
the user wants to enter the synchronization mode.
Via DC-to-DC converter 3416, case battery 3412 is used to
charge the battery of the electronic device. Converter 3416 is
used to convert the output voltage of the battery (e.g., 3.7
volts) to the voltage level used by the phone (e.g., 3.3 volts or
5 volts). In a specific implementation, the phone uses 5 volts
and converter 3416 converts the output voltage of the battery
to 5 volts.
controller, firmware, authentication chip, battery charging
circuit, and LEDs. PCB2 3508 contains the case connector
(e.g., 30 pin connector). PCB3 3512 contains the USB connector. PCB1 3504 connects to PCB2 3508 through a cable
3514. PCB1 3504 connects to PCB3 3512 through a cable
3514.
In a specific implementation, cables 3514 are flexible
printed circuit (FlexPC) cables. In another implementation,
10 cables 3514 are not flexible printed circuit cables, but other
connections or cabling such as ribbon cables or wires.
A first section 3516 of the lower case portion holds the
PCBs, while a second section 3520 holds a case battery 3524.
The case battery is connected to PCB1 3504. In an implemen15 tation, the battery has plus (e.g., red) and minus (e.g., black)
wires that are connected to the appropriate points of PCB1
3504. Below the battery, on the other side of the lower case
portion, is the portable electronic device 101 (indicated with
broken lines). Note that the portable electronic device extends
below PCB1 3504.
20
Beneath PCB1 3504 is a shield 3524. FIG. 36 shows a cross
section of first section 3516. As shown, the shield is between
PCB1 3504 and the portable electronic device. In particular,
the shield is between the case circuitry and the base front
25 surface. This copper shield serves to protect the portable
electronic device from any electrical or radio interference
(RF) generated by PCB1 3504, and vice versa. When there is
less interference or noise interfering with the portable electronic device’s operation, the portable electronic device will
A fuel gauge circuit 3456 is connected to case battery 3412,
30 have better operating characteristics. For example, a phone
which will determine a charge level of the battery. The deterwill have better reception and transmission (e.g., less drop
mined charge level is passed to a control system circuit 3460,
outs and voice conversations will be clearer).
which appropriately lights LED indicators 3464 to show the
In a specific implementation, shield 3524 is made of copuser the charge level. In an implementation, the control sysper, but in other implementations, this shield can be made of
tem uses a 3.3 volt level, and there is a 3.3 volt power con35 any conductive materials such as aluminum, platinum, gold,
verter circuit 3468 that takes power (e.g., 5 volts) from the
or silver.
USB and converts it to the desired level.
In a specific implementation, a length 3528 and width 3532
Control system circuit 3460 controls the case’s overall
of the first section is about 35 and 63 millimeters. An area of
operational modes as described above. For example, the conthe first section is about 2205 square millimeters. A length
trol system controls the battery charging, battery level,
40 3536 and width 3540 of the second section is about 87 and 54
authentication, and synchronization operations. The control
millimeters. An area of the second section is about 4698
system can be implemented using a microcontroller and firmsquare millimeters. A ratio of the first section to the second
ware. The firmware may be encrypted. The microcontroller
section is about 0.469 (i.e., 2205 square millimeters/4698
will decrypt the firmware before utilizing it.
square millimeters). In other implementations, however, the
Some examples of microcontrollers include processors
45 ratio can be in the range from about 0.333 to about 0.6.
from Intel Corporation, Intemational Business Machines
Generally, the greater the ratio, the battery will be larger and
Corporation, MIPS Technology Incorporated, ARM Limited,
can provide longer battery life.
and Atmel Corporation. For example, Atmel manufactures
As shown in FIG. 36, PCB1 3504 is placed in a first orienthe AVR® 8-bit microcontroller products, which is described
tation
(e.g., horizontal), while PCB2 3508 is positioned in a
in data sheets and other product literature published by Atmel,
50 second orientation, which is transverse (e.g., vertical) to
which is incorporated by reference along with all other refPCB1 3504. PCB3 3512 is also positioned in the first orienerences cited in this application. Such a controller can be used
tation.
to control operation of the case.
PCB2 3508 has the intemal case connector 168 (e.g.,
The figure shows a functional block diagram that can be
30-pin connector), which is connected to the portable elecimplemented using any number of integrated circuits and any
55 tronic device. PCB3 3512 has the USB or an outer connector
number of circuit boards. For example, battery charging cir2632.
cuit 3448 can be one integrated circuit. Authentication circuit
Portable electronic device 101 is connected to inner con3440 can be another integrated circuit. The fuel gauge, battery
nector
168, which is connected to the PCB2. The case also has
control, A/D, control system, and UC can be implemented
outer connector 2632 to allow connections to a power source
using a single integrated circuit. The integrated circuit or
60 or computer. The outer connector is connected to the PCB3.
chips can be placed on one or more printed circuit boards
Both the PCB2 and PCB3 are connected to the main PCB1
(PCBs) connected by wiring. The architecture may depend on
through cables 3514. The main PCB1 also includes LEDs
many factors, such as the cost, availability, and time to mar3604.
ket.
The PCBs and shield are attached to base lower back 3704
FIG. 35 shows a layout view of the components for the
65
lower case portion, as viewed from a back of the lower case
of the lower case portion. The lower case portion also
includes a base front back 3708 which covers the PCBs and
portion. There are three PCBs, PCB1 3504, PCB2 3508, and
PCB3 3512. PCB1 3504 is the main PCB, which contains the
shields. The base lower back and base front back form a space
US 7,612,997 B1
29
30
which encases the PCBs, shield, and other components of the
case. The base lower back and base front back can be made of
polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polycyclohexylene dimethylene terephthalate
(PCT), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), polyketone (PK),
polyester, polyethylene (PE), polyetheretherketone (PEEK),
polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), polyetherimide (PEI), polyethersulfone (PES), polysulfone, polyethylenechlorinates
(PEC), polyimide (PI), polylactic acid (PLA), polymethylpentene (PMP), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), polyphenylene
sulfide (PPS), polyphthalamide (PPA), polypropylene (PP),
polystyrene (PS), polysulfone (PSU), polytrimethylene
terephthalate (PTT), polyurethane (PU), polyvinyl acetate
(PVA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinylidene chloride
(PVDC), and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN).
A soft-touch or rubberized coating may be applied to the
case surface to help improve a user’s grip on the case. The
soft-touch coating can make the case surface tacky or slightly
tacky. In an implementation, both upper and lower case portions are made from the same material. However, in other
implementations, the upper and lower case portions may be
made of different types of materials (e.g., different types of
plastics). In other implementations, the case material may be
(or include), rather than a hard or rigid plastic, a compliant or
rubber-like material such as a gel, elastomeric, silicone, or
rubber.
plastic.
FIG. 37 shows a top View of a sound box formed by base
lower back 3704 and base front back 3708. In addition to 5
housing the circuitry, the base lower back and base front back
provides a sound box, which enhances the sound and audio
characteristics of the portable electronic device.
In particular, base lowerback 3704 has audio openings (for
10
a speaker or microphone, or both) 172a and 172b. The openings can be for two charmels for stereo sound. See FIG. 1B
which show the speaker openings for a specific implementation.
A base front back 3708 has audio openings or grille 808.
See FIG. 8 for a specific implementation. A distance 3712
between the audio openings in the base lower back and base
front back is about 12 millimeters. Between the openings in
the base lower back and base front back is the enclosure space
that enhances the sound. This space may be referred to as a
sound box space 3716. For example, this space helps deepen
the bass (e.g., better low frequency response) ofthe audio and
generally enhances the sound.
Distance 3712 can be any value, such as 9, 10, 11, 13, 14,
15, 16, or greater than 20 millimeters. The greater distance
3712 is, the better the low frequency response generally will
be because the enclosure is larger.
Generally, it is desirable to locate the openings such that
they are aligned, parallel to, or coaxial with a direction that
the sound is traveling. This helps to improve the transmission
quality and clarity of the sound.
In a specific implementation, openings 172a and 172b and
grille 808 are located near the case circuitry. This location
helps heat released from the circuit escape from the case.
These audio openings may be of any size, any shape, any
combination of sizes, or any combination of shapes. Some
examples of shapes include circles, squares, rectangles, crescents, and ovals. An opening may be bounded on all sides by
the case. Or, an opening may be partially bounded by the case.
There may be any number of openings and these openings
may be located anywhere on the case.
FIG. 38 shows a side view of the sound box formed by a
base front back 3804 and a base lower back 3808. FIG. 38
shows sound box 3716 and main PCB1 3504 enclosed
between base front back 3804 and base lower back 3808. A
case battery 3810 is between base front back 3804 and a base
upper back 3812.
Base lower back 3808 and base upper back 3812 meet at a
seam line 3816 and are not flush with each other. The base
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
When a hard plastic is used, some portions of the case can
be polished to have a high gloss finish (e.g., similar to a glossy
black piano), while other portions will have the soft-touch
coating (which is a matte finish). In other implementations,
all surfaces can have a high gloss finish. Or, all surfaces can be
coated with the soft-touch coating.
In an implementation, base front surface 164 (FIG. 10),
upper interior surface 916 (FIG. 9), inserts 1004a and 1004b
(FIG. 10), have a high gloss finish. Surfaces 1104 (FIG. 11),
1212 (FIG. 12), 1208 (FIG. 12), 3812 (FIG. 10), 408 (FIG. 4),
412a-e (FIG. 4), 420 (FIG. 12), 3816 (FIG. 8), 3818 (FIG. 7),
3827 (FIG. 5), and 3831 (FIG. 6) have the soft-touch coating.
The high gloss finish can be obtained or achieved by polishing, sanding, rubbing, or bufiing the surface with a relatively fine grit material (e.g., sandpaper, polishing cloth, or
paste). One can polish the plastic with successively finer grit
materials until the desired finish is obtained. Polishing can be
performed using a buffing machine, such as a rotary buffing
machine or other buffing machine.
The soft-touch coating can be applied by, for example,
spraying, brushing, or painting an appropriate coating on the
desired surfaces. In a specific implementation, the coating has
a thickness of about 0.1 millimeters. But the thickness of the
coating can vary, for example, due to manufacturing varialower back rises slightly above the base upper back so that
tions. In other implementations, for example, the thickness
50 can be from about 0.05 millimeters to about 0.3 millimeters.
when the upper case portion and lower case portions meet, the
exterior surfaces of the upper case portion and the base lower
In further implementations, the coating can be less than 0.05
back become flush with each other.
millimeters or greater than 0.3 millimeters. Generally, the
In a specific implementation, the case material is hard or
surfaces where the soft-touch coating will be applied do not
rigid plastic or a nonelastomeric material such as a polycarneed to be polished before the coating is applied. However, it
55
bonate (e.g., Bayer PC2405 or Makrolon® by Bayer Material
may be desirable to buff slightly before applying the coating
Science LLC). The case material can be a plastic such as a
to ensure the surface is smooth (but not necessarily a high
high density polyethylene, low density polyethylene, thermogloss finish) before applying the coating.
plastic, amorphous thermoplastic, or other resin or polymer.
As shown in FIG. 10, base front surface 164 may include
Some examples of thermoplastics includes acrylonitrile
strips 160a and 160b, which are parallel to each other and
60
butadiene styrene (ABS), acrylic, celluloid, cellulose acetate,
vertical (when viewing the case in a portrait orientation). As
ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), ethylene vinyl alcohol
discussed above, these strips help protect the finish of the
(EVOH), fluoroplastics, ionomers, Kydex®, liquid crystal
back of the portable electronic device.
polymer (LCP), polyacetal (POM or acetal), polyacrylates
In other implementations, the case can be a material other
(acrylic), polyacrylonitrile (PAN or acrylonitrile), polyamide
than plastic. Some examples of case materials include metal
65
(PA or nylon), polyamide-imide (PAI), polyaryletherketone
(e.g., stainless steel or titanium), glass, transparent or trans(PAEK or ketone), polybutadiene (PBD), polybutylene (PB),
lucent plastic, sapphire, diamond, leather, vinyl, quartz, granpolybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polycaprolactone (PCL),
ite, and many others.
US 7,612,997 B1
31
Some specific flows and techniques are described for making a case of the invention in this application, but it should be
understood that the invention is not limited to the specific
flows and steps presented. A flow of the invention may have
additional steps (not necessarily described in this application), different steps which replace some of the steps presented, fewer steps or a subset of the steps presented, or steps
in a different order than presented, or any combination of
these. Further, the steps in other implementations of the
invention may not be exactly the same as the steps presented
and may be modified or altered as appropriate for a particular
application or based on the data.
In an implementation, the back of the lower case portion
has a flush-mounted case button and flush lighting indicators.
FIGS. 39-42 show steps in a process for making a flush
lighting indicator on a surface ofthe case (e.g., 412a-e of FIG.
4). In an implementation, the process includes:
1 . Providing a starting material having a uniform thickness.
As shown in FIG. 39, the case material is a plastic 3904
having a certain thickness. This plastic is about 95 percent or
greater opaque, which means visible light (e.g., LED light)
will not shine through it easily. The plastic can be less than 95
percent opaque. For example, the material may be transparent
or translucent.
32
appropriate thickness 4008, the brightness of the indicator
lights can be adjusted as desired.
In an implementation, the cavity is circular to create a
circular indicator light, such as shown in FIG. 43. But in other
5
implementations, the cavity can be other shapes. For
example, the cavity shape can be a triangle, trapezoid, square,
rectangle, oval, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, or other.
3. Coating one side of the material. As shown in FIG. 41,
the first side of the plastic, which is the side opposite the
10
opening, is applied (e.g., painted, sprayed, or brushed on)
with a coating 4104. The coating sprayed has a thickness
4108, less than thickness 3916. In a specific implementation,
the coating is sprayed over the first side of the plastic including the surface above the opening. Before and after applying
15
the coating, the exterior surface (3908 and 4104) ofthe case is
smooth.
In a specific implementation, the coating is clear and
allows visible light from the second side to pass through and
be visible from the first side. Coating 4104 is the same soft20
touch coating that is applied to the exterior of the rest of the
case. This soft-touch coating allows visible light from the
second side to pass through and be visible from the first side.
In another specific implementation, coating thickness 4108
and the coating of the case both have the same thickness. In
25
this specific implementation, coating 4108 and the coating of
The plastic has two sides, a first side 3908 and a second side
the case have a thickness of about 0.1 millimeters. As dis3912. The first side is the side which the user will see and can
cussed above, this thickness may vary.
touch. The second side is the underside, which faces the
4. Positioning the cavity over a lighting source. As shown
circuitry and is generally hidden from the user. Between the
first side and second side is a thickness 3916. In a specific 30 in FIG. 42, the opening is positioned above a lighting source
4204 such as an LED. The opening can be above the lighting
implementation, thickness 3916 is about 1.4 millimeters.
source (e.g., offset or to the side) as long as light from the light
Thickness 3916 can vary. In other implementations, for
source can pass through the opening and be visible from the
example, thickness 3916 is from about 0.95 millimeters to
first side. In a specific implementation, the opening is directly
about 2 millimeters. In further implementations, the thickness
above the lighting source. In another specific implementais less than 0.95 millimeters or greater than 2 millimeters.
35
tion, the lighting source is positioned facing toward the cavity
2. Forming a cavity in the material. As shown in FIG. 40, a
such that when the lighting source emits visible light, it passes
cavity 4004 (e.g., trench or lacuna) is formed in the starting
through
thickness 4008 and 4108, but not thickness 3916, to
material. Cavity 4004 is a partial opening and does not go
the first side.
through the entire thickness ofmaterial 3904. The cavity may
When the LED lights up, the light from the second side is
be formed using any process for creating an opening includ- 40
visible through the opening and coating (4212) from the first
ing molding, melting, drilling, and etching. For example,
side. But light is not visible through other portions (4215)
cavity 4004 is created by drilling into the plastic from the
where the case material is thicker. The LED may be on a
second side to the first side but not through the first side.
printed circuit board PCB 4219.
A thickness from a bottom 4006 of the cavity to the first
FIG. 43 shows a top view ofthe lighting indicator from the
side is a thickness 4008. In a specific implementation, thick- 45
first side of the plastic. The lighting indicator is shown using
ness 4008 is about 0.4 millimeters. However, thickness 4008
broken lines to indicate it is hidden when it is not lighted.
can vary depending, for example, on manufacturing variaSpecifically, when LED 4204 lights up, a user can see light
tions. For example, the thickness can vary from about 0.2
through the opening and coating. The shape of the cavity will
millimeters to about 0.7 millimeters.
A ratio ofthickness 4008 to thickness 3916 is about 0.286 50 be the shape of the light. With the flush lighting cover of the
invention, when the LED is not lighted up, the user may not
(i.e., 0.4 millimeters/1.4 n1illimeters). If thickness 4008
even realize that the lighting indicator is there. When not
remains at 0.4 millimeters, the ratio can vary depending on
lighted, the surface of the case over the opening (4212)
the thickness 3916. As thickness 3916 increases, the ratio will
appears the same as the thicker portions (4215).
decrease. In other implementations, a ratio of thickness 4008
Therefore, the lighting indicator does not project out from
55
to thickness 3916 is about 0.05, 0.12, 0.15, 0.18, 0.20, 0.22,
the surface, resulting in a smooth back surface and a smooth
0.28, 0.32, 0.33, 0.38, or 0.42, or any other ratio.
tactile feel (e.g., completely flush). In other implementations,
Thickness 4008 will be sufficiently thin so the plastic will
the lighting indicators may bulge above or be recessed in the
surface of the case.
be much less than 95 percent opaque, so light can very easily
pass through a thin portion 4008, but not through the thick
FIG. 44 shows a kit including a portable electronic device
portion 3916. The light will be visible from the first side 60 case with a battery (as described above). The kit includes a
through thickness 4008. For example, for thickness 4008, the
portable electronic device battery case 4402, a cable 4406
opacity can be in a range from about 5 percent to about 30
(e.g., USB cable), a user manual 4408, a tray 4416, and a box
percent.
4418. The portable electronic device battery case can be a
The degree of opaqueness can be varied by varying a thickcase as described in this application. The tray holds the case,
65
ness 4008. A thinner 4008 will generally allow greater light
cable, and user manual. The tray with components slides into
the box. The user manual describes the features of the case
transmission, while a thicker 4008 will block light transmission. Thus, depending on the material, and by selecting an
and how to use them. The cable is for charging the case and
US 7,612,997 B1
33
34
also for synchronizing. The cable can be a USB or a universal
serial bus cable having a first end with a USB Type A plug
connector and a second end having USB Mini-B plug connector.
seated against the lower case portion; and an open side end,
opposite ofthe upper sidewall, wherein the upper case portion
slides onto the lower case portion through the open side end in
a direction along the base surface from the top edge to the
The tray is designed with compartments to hold the case,
lower sidewall, wherein when the upper case portion is seated
cable, anduser manual neatly. FIG. 44 shows a top view ofthe
against the lower case portion, the upper and lower case
tray and multilevel compartments, while FIG. 45 shows a
portions meet at and form a seam which extends across a back
cross-sectional view. The shape and depth of each compartof the case, and when the upper case portion is seated against
ment is customized for the component which it will hold (i.e.,
the lower case portion, a first open-polygon-shaped opening
10
case or cable). In other implementations, the trays are not
for the lower case portion merges with a second open-polymultileveled, but on a single level or on the same level, so that
gon-shaped opening for the upper case portion to form a front
each item is accessible without removing another item first.
opening of the case through which a screen of the electronic
The tray can be made of a foam material (e.g., black foam) or
device will be visible, the front opening having a closed
nonfoam material.
shape.
15
The tray has a first level compartment 4420 to hold the
2. The case of claim 1 wherein the upper case portion
cable. Above the first level compartment is a second level
further comprises a left sidewall having an opening through
which buttons on a left side of the electronic device will be
compartment 4424 to hold the case. The second level comaccessible.
partment is larger in area than the first level compartment.
Generally, a bigger or larger area compartment is needed to
3. The case of claim 1 wherein the lower case portion
20
store the case than the cable. The user manual can be placed
further comprises a back surface having a button, coupled to
between the case and cable compartments. Or the user manual
the electronic circuitry, positioned on a side ofthe seam closer
may be placed over both the case and cable such as shown in
to the outside bottom side of the lower case portion.
FIG. 45.
4. The case of claim 1 wherein the lower case portion
On a side of the tray (e.g., top or bottom) is a loop 4428.
comprises an opening through the base surface against which
25
When assembling the kit, the tray is inserted into the box so
a camera lens opening ofthe electronic device will be placed.
that loop 4428 is immediately visible and accessible to the
5. The case of claim 1 wherein the lower case portion
user when the user opens the box. After the user opens the box
comprises: a first plurality of openings, positioned on the
lower sidewall on a first side from the inner connector,
top, the user will see loop 4428 and can easily grab the loop to
pull the tray out of the box.
wherein a first speaker opening for the electronic device will
30
In other implementations, however, there may be any numbe placed against the first openings when the electronic
ber of cavities with different arrangements. In another spedevice is connected to the inner connector; a second plurality
cific implementation, the tray has a separate cavity (e.g., on a
ofopenings, positioned on the lower sidewall on a second side
single level) for the user manual, case, and cable. The cavity
from the inner connector, wherein a second speaker opening
levels allow the kit to have a thin and organized packaging.
for the electronic device will be placed against the second
35
The kit was described as having the box, user manual,
openings when the electronic device is connected to the inner
cable, and tray. In other implementations, however, compoconnector; and a third plurality ofopenings, positioned on the
nents of the kit can include any combinations of these comoutside bottom side, wherein each of the third openings is
ponents and can contain more components. For example, a kit
smaller than an opening for the outer connector.
can contain two USB cables, a tray, and a box.
6. The case of claim 1 wherein the lower and upper case
40
This description ofthe invention has been presented for the
portions comprise rigid plastic material.
purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to
7. The case of claim 1 wherein the first open-polygonbe exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form
shaped opening comprises a U shape and the second opendescribed, and many modifications and variations are pospolygon-shaped opening comprises an upside-down U shape.
sible in light of the teaching above. The embodiments were
8. The case of claim 1 wherein when the upper case portion
45
chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of
is seated against the lower case portion, to form the back of
the invention and its practical applications. This description
the case, the upper case portion overlaps at least one portion
will enable others skilled in the art to best utilize and practice
of the lower case portion to hold the upper case portion to the
the invention in various embodiments and with various modilower case portion.
fications as are suited to a particular use. The scope of the
9. The case of claim 1 wherein the lower case portion
50
invention is defined by the following claims.
comprises a button, coupled to the electronic circuitry,
The invention claimed is:
wherein by using the button, the case is placed in a first mode
1. A case for an electronic device comprising: a lower case
during which synchronizing with the electronic device will be
portion comprising: a base surface upon which a back of a
permitted or in a second mode during which charging of the
housing of the electronic device will be placed against,
electronic device will be permitted.
55
wherein the base surface comprises a top edge; a battery,
10. The case of claim 9 wherein the lower case portion
enclosed in the lower case portion; electronic circuitry,
comprises a plurality of lighting indicators, coupled to the
coupled to the battery; a lower sidewall, connected to the base
electronic circuitry, and after pressing the button for a first
surface at an end opposite of the top edge, that will be positime period, the lighting indicators will specify a level of
tioned against a bottom side edge of the electronic device; an
charge remaining for the battery, and after pressing the button
60
inner connector, on the lower sidewall, positioned to connect
for a second time period, longer than the first time period, the
case enters the first mode.
to a connector of the electronic device, and coupled through
the electronic circuitry to the battery; and an outer connector,
11. The case of claim 1 wherein when connecting a cable to
positioned on an outside bottom side of the lower case porthe outer connector of the lower case portion, the cable does
tion, coupled through the electronic circuitry to the battery
not pass through any opening of the upper case portion.
65
and inner connector; and an upper case portion comprising:
12. A method of making an electronic device case coman upper sidewall that will be positioned against a top side
prising: providing a lower case portion of the electronic
edge of the electronic device when the upper case portion is
device case comprising a base front surface and base back
US 7,612,997 B1
35
surface, wherein a housing of an electronic device will be
placed against the base front surface; enclosing a battery
between the base front surface and base back surface; connecting electronic circuitry to the battery and an inner and
outer connector; and providing an upper case portion for the
electronic device case that slides onto the lower case portion,
wherein when the upper case portion is seated against the
lower case portion, the upper and lower case portions form a
seam which extends across a back of the case, and when the
10
upper case portion is seated against the lower case portion, a
first open-shaped opening for the lower case portion merges
with a second open-shaped opening for the upper case portion
to form a front opening of the case through which a screen of
the electronic device will be visible, the front opening having
15
a closed shape.
13. The method of claim 12 wherein the base back surface
36
after holding the button for a first time period, using the
indicator lights to show a charge level of the battery; and
after holding the button for a second time period, longer
than the first time period, entering a sync mode to establish a data path between the inner and outer connectors.
15. The method of claim 14 comprising:
after entering the sync mode, pressing the button causes
exiting the sync mode.
16. The method of claim 14 comprising:
after entering the sync mode, using at least one of the
indicator lights to indicate the circuitry is in the sync
mode.
17. The method of claim 12 comprising:
providing a metal shield between the electronic circuitry
and the base front surface.
18. A kit for a case for an electronic device comprising: a
foam tray comprising a first compartment and a second comcomprises a base upper back surface and base lower back
surface, the base back surface has a first side, a second side,
partment; a cable, contained within the first compartment;
and the case for the electronic device, contained within the
and a first thickness between the first and second sides, and
20
second compartment, wherein the case comprises: a lower
the method comprises:
case portion comprising a base front surface and base back
enclosing the electronic circuitry between the base front
surface; a battery, contained between the base front surface
surface and the base lower back surface;
and base back surface, wherein a housing of the electronic
making a cavity in the base lower back surface, wherein the
cavity extends from the second side toward, but not 25 device will be placed against the base front surface; electronic
circuitry, coupled to the battery; and an upper case portion,
through to the first side, and a second thickness from an
attached to the lower case portion, wherein a first open-polyend of the cavity to the first side is thinner than the first
gon opening for the lower case portion merges with a second
thickness; and
open-polygon opening for the upper case portion to form a
positioning a lighting source of the electronic circuitry
facing toward the cavity, wherein when tumed on, the 30 front opening of the case through which a screen of the
electronic device will be visible, the front opening having a
lighting source emits visible light that passes through the
closed-polygon shape.
second thickness, but not the first thickness, to the first
19. The kit of claim 18 wherein the cable is a universal
side.
serial bus cable having a first end with a USB type A plug
14. The method of claim 12 comprising:
connector and a second end with a USB mini-B plug connecproviding a button in the base back surface, wherein the 35 tor.
button is coupled to the electronic circuitry and a surface
20. The kit of claim 18 wherein when the upper case porof the button is flush with a surface of the base back
tion is attached to the lower case portion, the upper and lower
surface;
case portions meet at and form a seam which extends across
providing indicator lights in the base back surface, wherein
a back ofthe case.
the indicator lights are coupled to the electronic circuitry;
US 20020101707A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2002/0101707 A1
(43) Pub. Date:
Canova, JR. et al.
(54)
HANDHELD COMPUTER WITH OPEN
ACCESSORY SLOT
(76)
Inventors: Francis James Canova JR., Fremont,
CA (US); Jefi'rey C. Hawkins,
Redwood City, CA (US); Traci Angela
Neist, Palo Alto, CA (US); Dennis
Joseph Boyle, Palo Alto, CA (US);
Robert Gregory Twiss, Portola Valley,
CA (US); Amy Aimei Han, Mountain
View, CA (US); Elisha Avraham Tal,
Maccabim (IL); Madeleine
Francavilla, Santa Cruz, CA (US)
(22)
Filed:
Aug. 1, 2002
Feb. 21, 2002
Related U.S. Application Data
Correspondence Address:
HICKMAN PALERMO TRUONG & BECKER,
LLP
1600 WILLOW STREET
SAN JOSE, CA 95125 (US)
(21)
Appl. No.:
10/080,437
(63)
Continuation of application No. 09/244,440, filed on
Feb. 4, 1999, now Pat. No. 6,388,877.
Publication Classification
(51)
(52)
(57)
Int. Cl.7 ............................. .. G06F 1/16; G06K 7/10
U.S.Cl. .................. .. 361/683; 361/686; 235/462.45;
235/472.01
ABSTRACT
A handheld computer having a housing with a midframe
construction is described. The housing includes a front shell
and a back shell coupled to a rnidframe. The handheld
computer also includes two accessory slots for a stylus or
other devices on the left and right sides of the housing. The
handheld computer also includes an infrared port which is an
integral portion of the housing.
400
400
Patent Application Publication
Aug. 1, 2002
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Sheet 1 of 14
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FIGURE 1A
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FIGURE 1F
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FIGURE 1E
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US 2002/0101707 A1
HANDHELD COMPUTER WITH OPEN
ACCESSORY SLOT
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0001:
1. Field of the Invention
[0002] The present invention relates to a handheld computer. More particularly, the invention relates a handheld
COII1pL ter having a housing with a midframe construction,
two accessory slots, or an integral infrared port.
[0003:
2. Description of Related Art
[0004] Handheld computers, including personal digital
assistants and palm-sized computers, provide the user with
a wide variety of functions, such as a calendar, an address
book, a task list, a notepad, and a calculator. These handheld
COII1pL ters may be approximately the size of a stack of 3“><5“
index cards, sufficiently compact to fit into a shirt pocket.
[0005] Current handheld computers, such as the PalmPilotTM from 3Com Corporation, typically have a housing
which consists of a mating front shell and back shell which
are coupled to each other with screws. The front shell and
back shell enclose the components of the handheld computer. Typically, a main board is mounted on one of the
shells. Assembly of current handheld computer is often
laborintensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the front
shell and back shell need to be sufficiently structurally rigid
to resist bending and twisting forces. Also, the main board
may also need to be sufficiently thick to resist bending and
twisting forces. As a result, these handheld computers may
not be made as compact as desired due to the need for
additional material.
[0006] Current handheld computers also typically have a
single storage or retention slot for a stylus or writing device.
This storage slot is usually on one side or the other of the
handheld computer, and thus cannot equally accommodate
both left-handed and right-handed users.
[0007] Current handheld computers also typically have an
infrared port which is a port or window transmissive to
infrared light. This port or window is usually installed in a
hole or opening in the housing.
[0008] What is needed is a handheld computer having a
housing which allows for easy assembly of the handheld
computer and minimizes the amount of material required for
the housing, yet provides sufficient structural rigidity.
[0009] What is also needed is a handheld computer
capable of storing a stylus or writing device which can
equally accommodate the preferences of both left-handed
and right-handed users.
[0010] What is also needed is a handheld computer having
a housing which simplifies the infrared port or eliminates the
need to create a separate opening to install an infrared port.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[0011] The present invention is directed towards a handheld computer, comprising a housing including a midframe
coupled to a front shell and a back shell. A substantial
portion of at least one side of the midframe forms part of an
exterior of the housing. The housing is capable of at least
partially enclosing a plurality of components.
Aug. 1, 2002
[0012] The present invention is also directed towards a
handheld computer, comprising a housing having a first and
second elongate accessory slots associated with a left and
right sides of the housing, respectively. The first and second
accessory slots are capable of receiving and accommodating
at least one removable accessory device.
[0013] The present invention is also directed towards a
handheld computer at least partially constructed of a material at least partially transmissive to infrared light and having
a portion which acts as an infrared port.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[0014] FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a handheld computer of the present invention.
[0015] FIGS. 1B-1F show top, front, side, back, and
bottom views of one embodiment of a handheld computer.
[0016] FIG. 1G shows an exploded view of one embodiment of a handheld computer.
[0017] FIG. 2A shows a perspective view of one embodiment of a midframe.
[0018] FIGS. 2B-2G show top, left side, front, right side,
back, and bottom views of one embodiment of a midframe.
[0019] FIGS. 3A-3C show front, cutaway, and close-up
views, respectively, of an infrared port which is a portion of
the midframe.
[0020] FIG. 4A shows a stylus partially inserted into one
of the accessory slots of the housing.
[0021] FIG. 4B shows a stylus fully inserted into one of
the accessory slots of the housing.
[0022] FIG. 5A shows a cover capable of being inserted
into one of the accessory slots of the housing.
[0023] FIG. 5B shows the cover inserted into one of the
accessory slots of the housing.
[0024] FIG. 6A shows an input/output stylus about to be
inserted into one of the accessory slots of the housing.
[0025] FIG. 6B shows a close-up view of accessory slot
contacts located within an accessory slot.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
[0026] The handheld computer of the present invention
uses one or more features which help make the handheld
computer more compact and easier to manufacture. One of
these features is a housing which uses a sandwich construction. Another of these features is the use of partially open
accessory slots for a stylus and other accessories. These
accessory slots only partially enclose the accessories, and
allow the handheld computer to be made narrower compared
to completely enclosed accessory slots. Yet another of these
features is an integral infrared port which is part of the
housing of the handheld computer. This integral infrared
port simplifies assembly of the handheld computer by eliminating the need for a separate window or port to be
assembled with the housing.
[0027] FIG. 1A-1G show a perspective, top, front, side,
back, bottom, and exploded views, respectively, of one
embodiment of a handheld computer 100. Handheld com-
US 2002/0101707 A1
puter 100 may run PalmOSTM, Windows CETM, or any other
suitable operating system. Handheld computer 100 is
capable of running preprogrammed and/or installed applications, such as an electronic calendar and address book.
[0028] Handheld computer 100 includes a housing 110,
which may be made up of one or more subhousings or
sections. Housing 110 supports, encloses, and/or protects the
components of handheld computer 100. These components
may include a display 120, user interface devices 130,
input/output devices 140, a main board 150, battery 151, a
flexible circuit 152, and an electrostatic discharge device
154. Housing 110 includes openings, lens, and/or ports for
the components of handheld computer 100, such as for the
display 120, user interface devices 130, and input/output
devices 140. Housing 110 may also include at least one
mounting device 119, which allows the attachment of
optional accessories such as a modem with a compatible
mounting device. Mounting device 119 may be a combination of indentations and slots on the back of housing 110
designed to accommodate optional accessories.
[0029] Display 120 may be an LCD display, active matrix
display, touch-sensitive display, or other suitable display.
Display 120 may be separated from housing 110 by one or
more gaskets 121. Gaskets 121 absorb shock and allow a
close fit between housing 110 and display 120. If display 120
is a touch-sensitive display, gaskets 121 also act as a spacer
to prevent housing 110 from inadvertently activating the
touch-sensitive display.
[0030] User interface devices 130 allow the user to input
data and commands into handheld computer 100. User
interface devices 130 may include a touch-sensitive display,
digitizer, stylus, and one or more buttons. A touch-sensitive
display is capable of receiving commands tapped or written
on display 120 with a finger, stylus, or other device. A
digitizer is capable of digitizing handwritten input by the
user on a touch-sensitive display and converting it to a
computer-readable form. A digitizer may be incorporated
into display 120.
[0031] Buttons may be mechanical buttons, or implemented on a digitizer or touch-sensitive display. Mechanical
buttons may be fiat, convex, concave, or any other desired
shape and texture. Mechanical buttons may be formed
individually, or several mechanical buttons may be formed
on a single strip for ease of manufacturing and installation.
Buttons may be fixed or programmable to activate a variety
of applications such as a calendar, an address book, a task
list, a notepad, a menu, a calculator, a search program, and
other applications. Buttons may also activate device functions such as scrolling functions, power, reset, and display
adjustment. Scrolling functions allow the user to scroll
across screens shown on display 120. Scrolling functions
may be a implemented on a rocker switch designed to
prevent both scroll up and scroll down buttons from being
pressed simultaneously. Power allows the user to turn on and
off handheld computer 100. Reset allows the user to reset
handheld computer 100. Display adjustment allows the user
to adjust parameters on display 120, such as brightness or
contrast. Display adjustment may be used alone or in conjunction with other buttons such as scroll up and scroll down
buttons, or bring up a software implementation of display
adjustment.
[0032] Input/output devices 140 allow handheld computer
100 to communicate and exchange information with other
Aug. 1, 2002
electronic apparatus. Input/output devices 140 may include
one or more infrared ports and external ports. An infrared
port includes an infrared transmitter/receiver 153 positioned
next to a window or port which is at least partially transmissive to infrared light. One embodiment of an infrared
port is discussed further below. An external port includes
one or more external contacts which may receive mating
connectors in different fashions. For example, external port
may receive peripheral connectors in a sliding fashion or a
contact-only fashion. External ports may be located on any
side or within an accessory slot 122 of handheld computer
100. External ports may be integrated into housing 110, or
may be manufactured as a separate connector assembly
which is then assembled into handheld computer 100. An
external port may also be used for recharging a rechargeable
battery in handheld computer 100.
[0033] Main board 150 may be a printed circuit board
which includes integrated circuits and connections for display 120 and other components. Main board 150 may
include a processor and memory. Main board 150 may also
include transceivers, [clicker buttons], and various connections to other components.
[0034] Battery 151 provides power to handheld computer
100, and may be rechargeable or disposable, fixed or removable. Battery 151 may be a Li-ion (lithium ion), NiMH
(nickel metal hydride), NiCd (nickel cadmium), alkaline, or
any other suitable battery.
[0035] Flexible circuit 152 may be used to connect main
board 152 to some or all of the other components of
handheld computer 100. Flexible circuit 152 may be constructed of a thin, flexible material such as MylarTM which
allows handheld computer 100 to be made thinner than with
a printed circuit board. Flexible circuit 152 may also be used
to carry components, such as an infrared transmitter/receiver
153. Flexible circuit 152 may also act as a shield or cover to
prevent the entry of dust and prevent optional accessories
using or inserted through mounting device 119 from short
circuiting any of the internal components of handheld computer 100.
[0036] Electrostatic discharge device 154 may ground
housing 110 to main board 150 if some or all of housing 110
is made of a conductive material such as a metal. Electrostatic discharge device 154 prevents damage to components
from electrostatic discharge between housing 110 and main
board 150 or other components, and prevents damage from
excessive voltage or current. Electrostatic discharge device
154 may be an electrostatic discharge clip or other device
made of a conductive material.
[0037]
Housing with left and right accessory slots
[0038] In one embodiment of handheld computer 100,
housing 110 includes two accessory slots 112 which can
accommodate different accessory devices designed for use
with handheld computer 100, such as a stylus 400. Accessory slots 112 are located on the left side and the right side
of housing 110 to equally accommodate the preferences of
both left-handed and right-handed users. Accessory slots 112
may only partially enclose accessory devices along the
length of the accessory devices, and thus allow handheld
computer 100 to be made narrower and thinner than with
completely enclosed accessory slots. Accessory slots 112
may be substantially cylindrical. A portion along substan-
US 2002/0101707 A1
Aug. 1, 2002
tially the length of an accessory device may be exposed to
the exterior of handheld computer 100. Accessory devices
may be inserted end first into housing 110 at an open end of
accessory slot 112. Accessory slots 112 may have a retaining
device 113 to prevent accessory devices from accidentally
falling out. Retaining device 113 may be a detent or notch
which corresponds to a matching detent or notch on accessory devices. Retaining device 113 may also be a door, clip,
or other mechanism. Accessory slots 112 may also be
designed to have an interference fit or a snap fit with
accessory devices to prevent accessory devices from falling
out. One end of housing 110 may be flared out, or be slightly
wider than the rest of housing 110, and at least partially
enclose the tip of an accessory device and act as a stop after
an accessory device has been fully inserted into accessory
slot 112. Accessory devices may also simply clip sideways
into accessory slots 112.
computer 100. For example, midframe 115 may include
posts which match up to holes in main board 150, as well as
clips which match up with an edge of main board 150 to
receive and hold in place main board 150. This may be
accomplished using one or a combination of an interference
fit, snap fit, or crush ribs, in which case no screws, glues, or
other fasteners are necessary for installation of main board
150 onto midframe 115. In similar fashion, some or all of the
components of handheld computer 100 can be installed onto
midframe 115 before front shell 114 and back shell 116 are
[0039] A method of manufacturing handheld computer
100 may include providing housing 110, forming an accessory slot 112 on a left side of housing 110, and forming
another accessory slot 112 on a right side of housing 110.
as a power button and a display button. As another example,
midframe 115 may include external ports to accommodate
external contacts for connecting handheld computer 100 to
other electronic apparatus. As yet another example, midframe 115 may include a lens or window for allowing
infrared transmitter/receiver 153 inside handheld computer
100 to communicate with other electronic apparatus outside
handheld computer 100.
[0040]
Housing with midframe construction
[0041] In one embodiment of handheld computer 100,
housing 110 is made up of a midframe 115 sandwiched
between a front shell 114 and a back shell 116. Importantly,
along with front shell 114 and back shell 116, one or more
surfaces of midframe 115 form part of the exterior of
handheld computer 100. Midframe 115 may be as wide as
front shell 114 or back shell 116. Midframe 115 may be
partially enclosed by one or both of front shell 114 and back
shell 116. Midframe 115 holds in place one or more of the
internal components of handheld computer 100. Midframe
115, front shell 114 and back shell 116 enclose and protect
the internal components. Midframe 115, front shell 114, and
back shell 116 may be constructed of aluminum, stainless
steel, plastic, or any other suitable material. Midframe 115,
front shell 114, and back shell 116 may also be coupled
together using one or a combination of screws, hinges, clips,
other suitable fasteners, and adhesives.
[0042] Adhesives may be adhesive sheets 117 formed into
suitable shapes which roughly approximate the outline of
midframe 115, front shell 114, and back shell 116. Adhesives
may also be hot melt adhesives, pressure sensitive adhesives, or any other suitable liquid or solid adhesives.
[0043] Together with the other components of handheld
computer 100, midframe 115, front shell 114, back shell 116
provide most of the structural rigidity. However, the use of
adhesives in the sandwich construction of housing 110
prevents midframe 115, front shell 114, and back shell 116
from sliding relative to each other when housing 110 is
subjected to bending and torsional forces, thus significantly
enhancing bending and torsional stiffness.
[0044] FIG. 2A shows a perspective view of one embodiment of midframe 115. FIGS. 2B-2G show top, left side,
front, right side, back, and bottom views of one embodiment
of midframe 115.
[0045] Midframe 115 may include one or both accessory
slots 112. Midframe 115 also includes engaging structures
118 such as supports, tabs, posts, and clips which couple to
corresponding component structures in the various components, or even the components themselves, of handheld
fastened to midframe 115 to substantially enclose the components and complete assembly of handheld computer 100.
[0046] Midframe 115 may also at least partially form some
or all of the various openings, lens, and/or ports for display
120, user interface devices 130, and input/output devices
130. For example, midframe 115 may include openings to
accommodate one or more user interface devices 140 such
[0047] Some or all of the features which may be found in
midframe 115, such as accessory slots 112 and engaging
structures 118, may be formed as integral parts of midframe
115, thus reducing the complexity and cost of midframe 115
and thus housing 110. For example, if midframe 115 is made
of an injection molded plastic, some or all of the features
mentioned previously may also be injection molded in the
same operation.
[0048] A method for manufacturing handheld computer
100 may include providing housing 110 which includes
midframe 115, front shell 114, and back shell 116, coupling
one or more components to midframe 115, and then coupling
front shell 114 and back shell 116 to midframe 115.
[0049]
Housing with Integral Infrared Port
[0050] In one embodiment of handheld computer 100,
some or all of housing 110 may be constructed of a material
which is at least partially transmissive to infrared light. A
portion of housing 110, such as a portion immediately
adjacent to an infrared transceiver housed within housing
110, may then allow transmission of infrared signals through
housing 110 and thus be used as an infrared port. Such a
portion of housing 110 may be polished and/or made thinner
relative to the remainder of housing 110, so as to enhance
transmission of infrared signals through housing 110. For
example, if housing 110 and thus the infrared port is
injection molded, the tool may be polished to an SPI A-2
level on either or both the front and back of the infrared port
to reduce transmission losses.
[0051] FIGS. 3A-3C show front, cutaway, and close-up
views, respectively, of an infrared port which is an integral
part of midframe 115. Midframe 115 may be constructed of
a plastic which is at least partially transmissive to infrared
light. This plastic may also be opaque to visible light, so that
the interior of handheld computer 100 cannot be seen. The
infrared port may be any part of housing 110 exposed to an
exterior of handheld computer 100, or it may be a portion of
US 2002/0101707 A1
midframe 115 adjacent to infrared transmitter/receiver 153
inside handheld computer 100. This portion of midframe
115, shown in FIG. 3C as the shaded section, may be
polished and made thinner than the remainder of midframe
115 to enhance transmission of infrared signals. An infrared
port of this design which is an unremoved portion of
midframe 115 provides improved structural rigidity, as well
as reduces part and assembly costs, as compared to an
infrared port which requires a section of midframe 115 to be
removed.
[0052] A method for manufacturing a handheld computer
100 may include providing housing 110, housing 110 being
at least partially constructed of a material at least partially
transmissive to infrared light, housing 110 capable of
enclosing a plurality of components including infrared transmitter/receiver 153, and forming the infrared port in housing
110, the infrared port being a portion of housing 110
adjacent to infrared transmitter/receiver 153.
[0053]
Housing Alternative Embodiments
Aug. 1, 2002
Both elongate members 502 fit simultaneously into both
accessory slots 112 and hold cover panel 504 across the front
of handheld computer 100.
[0060] FIGS. 6A-6B show another embodiment of handheld computer 100 having an external port with accessory
slot contacts 604 located within one of accessory slots 112.
FIGS. 6A-6B show an input/output stylus 600 about to be
inserted into accessory slot 112 having accessory slot contacts 604. Input/output stylus 600 includes stylus contacts
602 which electrically connect with accessory slot contacts
604 when input/output stylus 600 is inserted into accessory
slot 112. Input/output stylus 600 may be a functional device
itself, or may be a connection to other devices such as a
printer.
[0061] Although stylus 400, cover 500, and input/output
stylus 600 are shown in the figures fully inserted into
accessory slots 112, these and other accessory devices may
be designed to be only partially inserted into accessory slots
112.
[0054] In other embodiments of handheld computer 100,
housing 110 may be made up of one, two, or three or more
subhousings or sections. For example, housing 110 may be
made up of two opposing shells, in which half of each
accessory slot 112 may then be formed. As another example,
front shell 114 and midframe 115 may actually be formed as
one continuous section of housing 110, with back shell 116
being a second section of housing 110. As yet another
example, midframe 115 may only extend partially along the
length of housing 110, or midframe 115 may be comprised
of two or more continuous or noncontinuous sections. Other
[0062] The foregoing description of the invention has been
presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is
not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the
combinations and housing designs are possible.
a housing having a first and second elongate accessory
slots associated with a left and right sides of the
housing, respectively, the first and second accessory
slots capable of receiving and accommodating at least
one removable accessory device.
2. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein the first and
second accessory slots partially enclose the accessory device
along substantially a length of the accessory device, and
wherein a portion of the accessory device is exposed to an
exterior of the handheld computer along substantially the
length of the accessory device.
3. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein a bottom
of the housing is flared out and acts as a stop for accessory
devices inserted into the accessory slots.
4. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein the accessory slots are substantially cylindrical.
5. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein the accessory device is a stylus device.
6. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein the accessory device is a cover device.
7. The handheld computer of claim 1, further comprising:
[0055]
Accessory Devices
[0056] Many different accessory devices may be designed
to be used with handheld computer 100. These accessory
devices may be attached the back of handheld computer 100
using mounting device 119, or they may be attached using
one or both of accessory slots 112. Examples of accessory
devices include docking devices, modems, printers, and
cellular phones.
[0057] FIG. 4A shows a stylus 400 partially inserted into
one of the accessory slots 112 of housing 110. FIG. 4B
shows stylus 400 fully inserted into one of the accessory
slots 112 of housing 110. Where display 120 is a touchsensitive display or incorporates a digitizer, stylus 400 may
be used to enter instructions and handwritten characters.
Stylus 400 may be stored in either one of accessory slots 112
to equally accommodate the preferences of both left-handed
and right-handed users.
[0058] FIG. 5A shows a cover 500 capable of being used
with one of the accessory slots 112 of housing 110. FIG. 5B
shows cover 500 used with one of the accessory slots 112 of
housing 110. Cover 500 includes an elongate member 502
coupled to an edge of a cover panel 504. Elongate member
502 fits into either accessory slot 112, which allows cover
panel 504 to fold over the front of handheld computer 100.
Cover 500 thus protects display 120 and some or all of user
interface devices 130 of handheld computer 100. Cover 500
may be made of one or a combination of plastic, rubber,
fabric, leather, or any other suitable material.
[0059] Cover 500 may also include two elongate members
502 coupled to two opposite edges of a cover panel 504.
precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations
will be apparent. It is intended that the scope of the invention
be defined by the following claims and their equivalents.
What is claimed is:
1. A handheld computer, comprising:
an external port in communication with the first accessory
slot, the external port having at least one external port
contact.
8. The handheld computer of claim 7, wherein the accessory device is an input/output stylus device having a plurality of contacts which connect to the external port contacts
when the in put/output stylus device is inserted into the first
accessory slot.
9. The handheld computer of claim 1, wherein the first and
second accessory slots each include a retaining device for
retaining accessory devices.
US 2002/0101707 A1
10. The handheld computer of claim 9, wherein the
retaining device is a notch which mates with a detent on the
accessory device.
11. A handheld computer, comprising:
a housing including a midframe and a front and back
shells, the midframe being at least partially exposed to
an exterior of the handheld computer, the housing
including a first and second elongate accessory slots
associated with a left and right sides of the housing,
respectively, each accessory slot capable of accommodating and at least partially enclosing an elongate
accessory device along a substantial portion of the
length of the accessory device.
12. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein the first
and second elongate accessory slots are integral with the
midframe.
13. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein a bottom
of the housing is flared out and acts as a stop for accessory
devices inserted into the accessory slots.
14. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein the
accessory slots are substantially cylindrical.
15. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein the
accessory device is a stylus device.
16. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein the
accessory device is a cover device.
17. The handheld computer of claim 11, further comprismg:
an external port in communication with the first accessory
slot, the external port having at least one external port
contact.
18. The handheld computer of claim 17, wherein the
accessory device is an input/output stylus device having a
plurality of contacts which connect to the external port
contacts when the input/output stylus device is inserted into
the first accessory slot.
19. The handheld computer of claim 11, wherein the first
and second accessory slots each include a retaining device
for retaining accessory devices.
20. The handheld computer of claim 19, wherein the
retaining device is a notch which mates with a detent on the
accessory device.
21. A handheld computer, comprising:
a housing having a midframe, the midframe forming part
of an exterior of the housing, the midframe having a
first and second accessory slots associated with a left
and right sides of the midframe, respectively, the first
and second accessory slots being elongate and capable
of receiving and accommodating at least one removable
accessory device;
a front shell coupled to a front side of the midframe; and
a back shell coupled to a back side of the midframe.
22. The handheld computer of claim 21, wherein the first
and second accessory slots partially enclose the accessory
device along substantially a length of the accessory device,
and wherein a portion of the accessory device is exposed to
an exterior of the handheld computer along substantially the
length of the accessory device
23. The handheld computer of claim 21, wherein a bottom
of the housing is flared out and acts as a stop for accessory
devices inserted into the accessory slots.
24. The handheld computer of claim 21, wherein the
accessory slots are substantially cylindrical.
Aug. 1, 2002
25. The handheld computer of claim 21 wherein the
accessory device is a stylus device.
26. The handheld computer of claim 21, wherein the
accessory device is a cover device.
27. The handheld computer of claim 21, further comprismg:
an external port in communication with the first accessory
slot, the external port having at least one external port
contact.
28. The handheld computer of claim 27, wherein the
accessory device is an input/output stylus device having a
plurality of contacts which connect to the external port
contacts when the input/output stylus device is inserted into
the first accessory slot.
29. The handheld computer of claim 21, wherein the first
and second accessory slots each include a retaining device
for retaining accessory devices.
30. The handheld computer of claim 29, wherein the
retaining device is a notch which mates with a detent on the
accessory device.
31. A method of manufacturing a handheld computer,
comprising:
providing a housing capable of substantially enclosing a
plurality of components;
forming a first elongate accessory slot on a left side of the
housing; and
forming a second elongate accessory slot on a right side
of the housing,
wherein the first and second accessory slots are capable of
receiving and accommodating at least one removable
accessory device.
32. The method of claim 31, wherein the first and second
accessory slots partially enclose the accessory device along
substantially an entire length of the accessory device, and
wherein a portion of the accessory device is exposed to an
exterior of the handheld computer along substantially the
entire length of the accessory device.
33. The method of claim 31, wherein a bottom of the
housing is flared out and acts as a stop for accessory devices
inserted into the accessory slots.
34. The method of claim 31, wherein the accessory slots
are substantially cylindrical.
35. The method of claim 31, wherein the accessory device
is a stylus device.
36. The method of claim 31, wherein the accessory device
is a cover device.
37. The method of claim 31, further comprising:
forming an external port in communication with the first
accessory slot, the external port having at least one
external port contact.
38. The method of claim 37, wherein the accessory device
is an input/output stylus device having a plurality of contacts
which connect to the external port contacts when the input/
output stylus device is inserted into the first accessory slot.
39. The method of claim 31, wherein the first and second
accessory slots each include a retaining device for retaining
accessory devices.
40. The method of claim 39, wherein the retaining device
is a notch which mates with a detent on the e accessory
device.
US 200901 1 1543A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication
(10) Pub. No.: US 2009/0111543 A1
Tai et al.
(43) Pub. Date:
(54)
PROTECTIVE SLEEVE FOR PORTABLE
ELECTRONIC DEVICES
(75)
Inventors:
(30)
Foreign Application Priority Data
Oct. 31, 2007
Lone -Wen Tai, Tu-Cheng (TW);
Jun Dai, Shenzhen City (CN)
Correspondence Address:
PCE INDUSTRY, INC.
ATT_ Steven Reiss
458 E. LAMBERT ROAD
FULLERTON, CA 92835 (US)
(73)
Assignees:
HONG FU JIN PRECISION
INDUSTRY (ShenZhen) CO.,
LTD., Shenzhen City (CN); HON
HAI PRECISION INDUSTRY
CO., LTD., Tu-Cheng (TW)
(21)
Appl. No.:
12/106,334
(22)
Filed;
Apr, 21, 2008
Apr. 30, 2009
(CN) ....................... .. 2007l0202349.3
(51)
Publication Classification
Int. Cl.
H04M 1/00
(2006.01)
(52)
U.S. Cl. ................................................... .. 455/575.8
(57)
ABSTRACT
The present invention relates to a protective sleeve for portable electronic devices. The protective sleeve for portable
electronic device includes a sleeve frame, a cover, and a
turning structure. The sleeve frame includes a plurality of
connecting sidewalls cooperatively defining a space for
receiving the portable electronic device. The cover is covering the space of sleeve frame. The cover is connected to the
sleeve frame and can be opened via the tuming structure. The
protective sleeve for portable electronic device is convenient
for use, and can fully protect the portable electronic device.
100\\\\
118
1018
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 30, 2009 Sheet 1 of 7
FIG.
1
US 2009/0111543 A1
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