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Input device with capacitive antenna

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Publication number
US20020126094A1
US20020126094A1 US10124892 US12489202A US2002126094A1 US 20020126094 A1 US20020126094 A1 US 20020126094A1 US 10124892 US10124892 US 10124892 US 12489202 A US12489202 A US 12489202A US 2002126094 A1 US2002126094 A1 US 2002126094A1
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Prior art keywords
hand
device
antenna
circuit
input
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10124892
Inventor
Philippe Junod
Florian Kehlstadt
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Logitech Europe SA
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Logitech Europe SA
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details of data-processing equipment not covered by groups G06F3/00 - G06F13/00, e.g. cooling, packaging or power supply specially adapted for computer application
    • G06F1/26Power supply means, e.g. regulation thereof
    • G06F1/32Means for saving power
    • G06F1/3203Power Management, i.e. event-based initiation of power-saving mode
    • G06F1/3206Monitoring a parameter, a device or an event triggering a change in power modality
    • G06F1/3231Monitoring user presence or absence
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details of data-processing equipment not covered by groups G06F3/00 - G06F13/00, e.g. cooling, packaging or power supply specially adapted for computer application
    • G06F1/26Power supply means, e.g. regulation thereof
    • G06F1/32Means for saving power
    • G06F1/3203Power Management, i.e. event-based initiation of power-saving mode
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details of data-processing equipment not covered by groups G06F3/00 - G06F13/00, e.g. cooling, packaging or power supply specially adapted for computer application
    • G06F1/26Power supply means, e.g. regulation thereof
    • G06F1/32Means for saving power
    • G06F1/3203Power Management, i.e. event-based initiation of power-saving mode
    • G06F1/3234Action, measure or step performed to reduce power consumption
    • G06F1/325Power saving in peripheral device
    • G06F1/3259Power saving in cursor control device, e.g. mouse, joystick, trackball
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/03Arrangements for converting the position or the displacement of a member into a coded form
    • G06F3/033Pointing devices displaced or positioned by the user, e.g. mice, trackballs, pens or joysticks; Accessories therefor
    • G06F3/0354Pointing devices displaced or positioned by the user, e.g. mice, trackballs, pens or joysticks; Accessories therefor with detection of 2D relative movements between the device, or an operating part thereof, and a plane or surface, e.g. 2D mice, trackballs, pens or pucks
    • G06F3/03543Mice or pucks
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/03Arrangements for converting the position or the displacement of a member into a coded form
    • G06F3/033Pointing devices displaced or positioned by the user, e.g. mice, trackballs, pens or joysticks; Accessories therefor
    • G06F3/038Control and interface arrangements therefor, e.g. drivers or device-embedded control circuitry
    • G06F3/0383Signal control means within the pointing device
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H03BASIC ELECTRONIC CIRCUITRY
    • H03KPULSE TECHNIQUE
    • H03K2217/00Indexing scheme related to electronic switching or gating, i.e. not by contact-making or -breaking covered by H03K17/00
    • H03K2217/94Indexing scheme related to electronic switching or gating, i.e. not by contact-making or -breaking covered by H03K17/00 characterised by the way in which the control signal is generated
    • H03K2217/96Touch switches
    • H03K2217/9607Capacitive touch switches
    • H03K2217/960755Constructional details of capacitive touch and proximity switches
    • H03K2217/960775Emitter-receiver or "fringe" type detection, i.e. one or more field emitting electrodes and corresponding one or more receiving electrodes
    • Y02D10/155
    • Y02D10/173

Abstract

An input device having a housing and electronic circuitry for detecting user inputs, and transmitting signals corresponding to those inputs to an electronic device, such as a computer. An antenna is provided for transmitting or receiving signals. A hand detection circuit is provided, which uses said antenna for detecting the proximity of a user's hand to the housing and producing a hand detect signal in response. In one embodiment, the antenna is a capacitive antenna. A capacitor is switched in parallel with the antenna when it is used in antenna mode, so that the impact on the antenna signaling of the capacitance of a user's hand is minimized. In one embodiment, a sleep mode is provided for the electronic circuitry to conserve power. The hand detect signal will awaken the input device from its sleep mode.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a Continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/964,975, filed Sep. 26, 2001, entitled “Input Device With Hand Detection” , which is a non-provisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 60/261,543, filed Jan. 12, 2001, which disclosures are incorporated herein by reference.
  • STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT NOT APPLICABLE REFERENCE TO A “SEQUENCE LISTING,” A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING APPENDIX SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISK NOT APPLICABLE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to input devices, in particular pointing devices such as mice, and more particularly to antennas for such devices.
  • [0003]
    Wireless mice, trackballs and other devices use batteries and an antenna to transmit to a receiving unit connected to a computer. Different types of antennas could be used, such as a capacitive or an inductive antenna. One concern especially with capacitive antennas is the capacitive interference of the human hand on the mouse. An additional concern with a battery-operated unit is limiting power consumption, and providing a sleep mode capability that does not interfere with the antenna function.
  • [0004]
    In many instances, it is desired to bring a pointing device into a power saving mode. For example, Universal Serial Bus (USB) specifications require a low power device in suspend mode to consume less than 500 uA overall. Similarly, a wireless, battery operated pointing device must limit its power consumption to a minimum when the user is either not present or not using the device. Two strategies have been applied to reach this goal, namely the interrupt approach and the activity monitoring approach.
  • [0005]
    The interrupt approach relies on the interrupt input found in the device microcontroller. This input, when asserted, activates built-in wake-up circuitry that brings the device back into an active mode, from an idle state in which power consumption is minimal. When the device is idle, the wake-up circuitry is active but requires a very small amount of power. In this configuration, the interrupt input is connected to a switch that the user must depress to activate (wake up) the device. In the activity monitoring approach, some monitoring activity is started in a periodic manner to verify that a user is not soliciting the device in any way. In a mouse, activity monitoring requires flashing the encoder Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and reading back the photodetector signals in order to detect a potential horizontal movement, a rather power hungry task. If activity is detected, the device resumes an active state. In this approach, battery saving is obtained thanks to the long idle time between two activity monitoring periods. This approach is less effective than the former since monitoring typically requires more power than that required in the microcontroller idle state.
  • [0006]
    While the two approaches have proven to be very effective, both suffer from their own limitations. The interrupt approach limitation is the fact that a pointing device must be “wakened up” by clicking on a switch when in power saving mode, e.g. there is no automatic waking up when the user moves the pointing device as is currently the case in Logitech products. On the other hand, the monitoring approach doesn't require a clicking wake up action, but suffers from a rather long latency time when the device is in this monitoring mode, the shortening the latency time being in contradiction with the power saving objectives.
  • [0007]
    The problem of power consumption is particularly troublesome in the new mice using an optical module, which detects the reflection of light off a surface to determine mouse movement. When such a device is made wireless, requiring a transmitter (e.g., radio or infrared) as well, it is difficult to have the batteries last more than a couple of months. Accordingly, it is desirable to have an improved, automatic power saving mode.
  • [0008]
    As discussed below, the present invention provides such an improved power saving mode by using hand detection to activate an input device, such as a mouse. In one embodiment, the hand detection uses capacitive detection. Hand detection and capacitive detection have been used in other applications, a few of which are discussed below. For example, touchpads use capacitive detection to detect the location of a finger on a touchpad.
  • [0009]
    U.S. Pat. No. 5,341,036 is an example of hand detection being used to activate a system. In that patent, a machine operator control station is activated when both hands of the operator are detected on the control inputs.
  • [0010]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,919,429 shows the detection of a hand by an optical beam being broken. The detection of the hand activates certain routines of a hand skill amusement game.
  • [0011]
    Capacitive switches have also been used in other applications, such as detecting the touch of a user on a lamp, and turning on the lamp.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    The present invention provides an input device having a housing and electronic circuitry for detecting user inputs, and transmitting signals corresponding to those inputs to an electronic device, such as a computer. An antenna is provided for transmitting or receiving signals. A hand detection circuit is provided, which uses said antenna for detecting the proximity of a user's hand to the housing and producing a hand detect signal in response.
  • [0013]
    In one embodiment, the antenna is a capacitive antenna. A capacitor is switched in parallel with the antenna when it is used in antenna mode, so that the impact on the antenna signaling of the capacitance of a user's hand is minimized.
  • [0014]
    In one embodiment, a sleep mode is provided for the electronic circuitry to conserve power. The hand detect signal will awaken the input device from its sleep mode.
  • [0015]
    For a further understanding of the nature and advantages of the invention, references should be made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mouse incorporating the capacitive hand detection electrodes according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the capacitive hand detection circuit embodiment for direct and indirect coupling of the hand, respectively.
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIGS. 3 and 4 are timing diagrams illustrating the charge up and discharge cycles for the first and second electrodes, respectively, with no hand and the hand on.
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating the use of both exposed electrodes on the side of a mouse and electrodes inside the top cover of a mouse in parallel.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 6 is a more detailed circuit diagram of one embodiment of a capacitive detection circuit for one electrode according to one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating capacitive plates used for both antenna and hand detection functions.
  • [0022]
    [0022]FIG. 8 is a block diagram of the antenna RF circuit of FIG. 7.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0023]
    [0023]FIG. 1 illustrates a mouse 10 having a top housing cover 16 beneath which, in phantom, are shown sheet electrodes 14 and 18. Additionally, an exposed electrode 20 is shown on a side 22 of the mouse. A similar electrode can be mounted on the other side, not shown. The electrodes 14, 18, or/and 20, are connected to a capacitive detection circuit for detecting when a hand is touching or in close proximity to those electrodes.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 2A illustrates, at a high level, the operation of the capacitive detection circuit. FIG. 2A illustrates a direct connection from the hand to the detection circuit, such as through exposed electrode 20 and a corresponding second electrode 20′. When the hand touches these, the capacitance of the body 24 to an earth ground 26 is connected in series with the electrodes. As shown, first electrode 20 is connected through a capacitor 28 and a resistor 30 to one input of a comparator 32. Similarly, the second electrode 20'is connected through a capacitor 34 and a resistor 36 to another comparator 38. The inputs to the comparators are compared to a reference threshold to determine how long it takes for the capacitance connected to the measurement node to charge or discharge. As shown, a switch 40 connects the measurement node of comparator 32 to either ground (Vss) or to the positive voltage supply (Vcc). Similarly, a switch 42 connects the measurement node of comparator 38 to the same references.
  • [0025]
    However, switches 40 and 42 operate to connect one comparator to Vcc, while the other comparator is connected to Vss, and vice versa. Thus, one electrode and its capacitance will be charging up, while the other one is discharging. This simultaneous measurement in opposing directions provides that an internal virtual ground 44 will mimic the earth ground, allowing the detection of the user's hand, which user is naturally capacitively coupled to the real earth ground. The capacitance measured when the user's hand is in proximity to the electrodes is contrasted with the capacitance when the user's hand is not near. Without the user's hand, there is no connection to earth ground 26, and the electrodes are floating. Thus, the only capacitance is parasitic capacitance to the internal virtual ground 44 of the device.
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 2B illustrates the same circuit as FIG. 2A, except that instead of an exposed electrode directly contacted by the hand, there is a gap between electrodes 14 and 18 to the user's hand. This gap itself forms the desired measurement capacitance corresponding to capacitors 28 and 34 in FIG. 2A.
  • [0027]
    When the user is not placing his/her hand on the mouse, the capacitance is determined by the parasitic capacitor (a few pF) present on the measurement node. When the hand is located on the device, close to the parasitic capacitor, the overall capacitance is determined by a combined capacitor consisting of the parasitic capacitor and the measurement capacitor (28, 34).
  • [0028]
    The measurement capacitor models the capacitive coupling from the measurement node to local ground. It is connected to the measurement node on one end and to local ground via the user hand/body on the other end. It includes a coupling capacitor from inside the device to the hand, and a body-to-local earth capacitor, all connected in series. In one embodiment, the coupling capacitance is maximized by covering a large portion of the device surface, on the internal side, with an internal conductive layer, such as metal foil. It is the dominant term when compared to the other one (because it is the lowest value in the chain), on the order of 5 to 10 pF.
  • [0029]
    Since the device can be connected to a portable computer in one embodiment, and can be floating with respect to local earth, a virtual earth is generated inside the pointing device. This detection system relies on a double capacitance measurement, thus necessitating two charge/discharge-time-measurement circuits, each with its parasitic capacitor and internal conductive layer. In this configuration, one system measures its measurement node charging up, while the other measures its respective node charging down, and then the other way around in an alternated up/down manner. If the coupling from the two measurement nodes to local earth is symmetrical, the system ground is at a virtual earth.
  • [0030]
    The two parasitic capacitors are connected to an internal conductive layer, each covering a distinct portion of the internal surface, but close enough to produce a somewhat similar coupling to the hand resting over the device on the external surface. This enforces a rather symmetrical coupling if the entire hand covers the pointing device body, and allows virtual earth generation. In an alternate embodiment, the two internal conductive layers consist of two sets interleaved strips; each set being connected to its respective internal parasitic capacitor.
  • [0031]
    The hand detection circuit can be used both with the interrupt method and the monitoring method. In the interrupt method, the hand detection circuit operates in stand-alone mode by executing the capacitance measurements on a periodical time basis, for example every 500 ms. When a hand is detected, a signal at the output of the circuit and connected to the interrupt input of the pointing device microcontroller is asserted. Activating the interrupt input brings the device out of the idle state, which is then ready to operate.
  • [0032]
    In the monitoring method, the pointing device requests, on a periodical manner, capacitance measurements. If the output hand detector is asserted, the system resumes full power operation. If not, the system goes idle for a known duration after which a new capacitance measurement phase is requested.
  • [0033]
    Improved power saving and/or reduced latency time occurs when the energy to complete a full capacitance measurement is less than that of activity monitoring.
  • [0034]
    Due to the intrinsic lower energy requirement of a hand detection circuit, both a better trade-off between power saving and latency time; and an automatic power-on are possible. Examples of trade-offs include significant power saving with equivalent latency time, or moderate power saving together with a smaller latency time, while both options do not require any button clicking.
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 3 shows a first signal waveform 46 with the charging and discharging times illustrated as times T0, with no hand present. The charging cycle charges up to the ⅔ Vcc threshold, while the discharging cycle discharges from Vcc down to a ⅓ Vcc threshold. A second waveform 48 illustrates the change in the charging time due the presence of the hand, indicated by dTf. Similar waveforms 72 and 74 are illustrated in FIG. 4 for the second electrode.
  • [0036]
    By adding the four measurements (the charge and discharge times of 48, and the charge and discharge times of 74), there is a cumulative change in capacitance of 4XdTf. Firmware embedded in the pointing device will compare that sum (both electrodes together) to a time reference in order to determine whether the hand is present or not. The threshold can be automatically readjusted each time after the hand was detected as touching the pointing device, or after it is detected as lifting off the pointing device. This will compensate for the parasitic capacitances (which do not vary depending on the hand being present or not). Thus, the system needs no factory adjustments. Preferably, the difference in capacitance is about between 1 and 4 pF. Less than 1 pF would risk having the system too sensitive, such that even vibrations of the electrode interconnections could be detected. 4pF is about what is practical through the plastic case of a mouse.
  • [0037]
    If the input device is not referenced (not connected) to earth ground, any voltage may be present between the local voltage reference of the electronics and earth ground. This could lead to overflow or underflow of the counters in the controller for counting the charge and discharge times. By driving the two inputs in phase opposition, and connecting them to the same body capacitance, one circuit will try to discharge the body capacitance, while the other is trying to charge it, thus offsetting the body capacitance. This leaves the measurement capacitance on the two electrodes to be charged or discharged.
  • [0038]
    A push-pull configuration can also be used to measure the differential capacitance between the two electrodes, which augments when a common conductive element (the hand) is covering them both, whatever the potential of those elements may be versus the reference potential of the sensing circuitry.
  • [0039]
    [0039]FIG. 5 illustrates an embodiment in which both touch sensors in direct, galvanic contact with hand or fingers are wired in parallel with capacitive sensors mounted on the underside of a top case housing. In the example shown, two discrete electrodes 84 and 86 are exposed outside the case for direct contact with a user's finger. These may be close together on one side of the housing, or on opposite sides where they can be contacted by the grasping fingers of a user. Instead of simply two capacitive sensors on the inside of the top of a case, the diagram shows four interleaved sensors, with electrodes 88 and 90 being connected to a first electrode 84, and electrodes 92 and 94 being connected to a second electrode connected to electrode 86. External electrodes 84 and 86 require discrete capacitors, shown as capacitors 96 and 98. For the other electrodes (which are on the internal side of the case, i.e., not accessible to the user) the case itself provides the dielectric for capacitive coupling with the user's finger. This is a good embodiment for cost reasons, although it only allows a proximity detector instead of an actual-touch sensor.
  • [0040]
    [0040]FIG. 6 is a block diagram of the capacitive detection circuit connected to each electrode. This embodiment shows a discrete capacitor (50, corresponding to capacitors 28 and 34 of FIG. 2A) that makes each external electrode an actual-touch sensor. In the example shown, an electrode 14 is connected to a sensing capacitor 50 and through a resistor 52 to a pull-up/pull-down resistor 54. In practice, the capacitor may be simply a gap in the wiring to the electrode. This gap can be created in a number of ways. A Mylar (Dupont's trademark for polyester foil) sheet can be used as a dielectric between the wiring connection and the electrode. This provides a well-characterized dielectric, with a well-characterized thickness, wedged between the conductor's terminal and the electrode, so that the resulting capacitance is well determined in spite of differences in tolerances during manufacturing. A flexible PC board could be used, with the flexible substrate itself causing the gap, i.e. the dielectric, between the electrode and the wiring. In one embodiment, the gap is about 50 microns, although the gap used can vary widely depending on the dielectric, etc. In one embodiment a wire is simply not stripped after it is cut, leaving its insulation intact up to the end. Then it is inserted through a hole in the electrode that has the same diameter as the insulation's external diameter. Or the electrode may be made of two pieces that are assembled around the insulated wire so that this is surrounded by the electrode. This makes a cylindrical or tubular capacitor at no material cost, where the wire jacket is the dielectric.
  • [0041]
    When the finger 12 makes contact with electrode 14, the body capacitance 56 is placed in series with the detection capacitance 50 and resistor 52. When a galvanic contact is made between the finger and the contact electrode, the amount of the capacitance is measured at an input to comparator 58 by measuring the amount of time to either charge up or discharge the capacitance. In the embodiment shown, a switch 60 is closed to connect a node 62 to ground, allowing a measurement of the amount of time for the capacitance to discharge. Subsequently, a switch 64 can close, and switch 60 open, to measure the amount of time for the capacitance to charge from the power supply. These charge up and charge down times are illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B, with T0 being the amount of time in the absence of a finger. The presence of a finger is indicated by dTf. Additional noise cancels out between the charge up and charge down cycles.
  • [0042]
    The threshold on the other input of comparator 58 is set by feedback from its output through a resistor 66, in combination with a voltage divider of resistors 68 and 70. The output of comparator 58 will alternate between a 0 and 1 value, causing the threshold to alternate between 0.33 and 0.66 of the supply voltage, Vcc. For more details about the construction and operation of a capacitive detection circuit, reference should be made to copending patent application Ser. No. 60/258,133, filed Dec. 22, 2000, entitled “Pointing Device with Solid State Roller,” assigned to the same Assignee as this application, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • [0043]
    The output of comparator 58 is provided to a controller 72. The controller also controls the opening and closing of clamp switches 60 and 64. The controller can also analyze the signal from the electrode, and a separate signal from a similar circuit for a second electrode, to determine the presence of a finger and the movement direction of a hand.
  • [0044]
    [0044]FIG. 7 illustrates a human hand 120, with its associated capacitance, approaching two capacitive plates or foils 122 and 124. Plates or foils 122 and 124 form two capacitive electrodes which are connected to a hand detect circuit 126 for detecting the presence of a hand. In addition, these two electrodes 122 and 124 are connected to an RF circuit 128 for driving and/or receiving signals using the electrodes 122 and 124 as a capacitive antenna. A switch 130 switches a capacitor 132 in parallel with the electrodes during antenna mode. The extra capacitor 132 reduces the sensitivity of the antenna to the capacitance of hand 120 during antenna functions. In the embodiment shown, switch 130 is also used to switch the RF circuit 128 into contact with the two electrodes. However, an alternate embodiment could have the RF circuit permanently connected, with only the capacitor switched in and out.
  • [0045]
    When the device enters a sleep mode, such as described above, the switch disconnects the external capacitor 132 and RF circuit 128, and connects to a hand detect circuit 126. Again, in an alternate embodiment, hand detect circuit 126 can be permanently attached to the electrodes. The removal of capacitor 132 provides the sensitivity to the hand to enable hand detect circuit 126 to function. The present invention thus uses the same electrodes for both the antenna and hand detect function. This provides a low-cost hand detection with a high efficiency capacitive antenna for a cordless device.
  • [0046]
    Preferably, capacitor 132 is much larger than the capacitance of a hand. Typically, a hand has approximately one pF. Accordingly, a capacitance much greater than one pF should be added, such as a capacitor in the range of 10-20 pF (however, the actual capacitor size is related to the antenna geometry. For very small sensors, a capacitor less than 10 pF may be required). Alternately, instead of simply adding the capacitor, a tuning circuit could be used.
  • [0047]
    The antenna could be mounted in any of a number of places. For example, the antenna could be printed on a printed circuit board (PCB), which also contains the other circuitry of the mouse, trackball, or other device. Alternately, the capacitive electrodes could be foil attached to the inside of the upper housing of the input device, or in other locations such as described earlier.
  • [0048]
    Preferably, the capacitive electrodes are foil, wire or plates, and should be metallic. They can be square-shaped as illustrated in FIG. 7, or could have rounded corners, or could have a completely different shape.
  • [0049]
    In an alternate embodiment, an inductive or coil antenna could be used, such as by providing loops on the PCB. The inductive antenna could also be used to detect the hand presence. The hand presence is used to wake up from the sleep mode. The entering into the sleep mode is typically done by the detection of the absence of user activity for a specified period of time.
  • [0050]
    [0050]FIG. 8 illustrates the circuitry which would comprise RF block 128 of FIG. 7. An oscillator 134 is provided, with its signal being provided to a modulator 136. The modulator modulates a data signal indicating the mouse movements and button presses on a line 138, and provides the modulated signal to an antenna driver 140. The antenna driver provides its signal through a matching circuit 142 to the capacitive antenna 144. Alternately, the capacitive antenna could be used for receiving signals, which are then provided as data to the controller of the mouse on data lines 138 or through an alternate path.
  • [0051]
    In one embodiment, during a running mode, the hand detection circuit 126 is powered down, limiting the amount of power required by the device. The RF circuitry can also be powered down in between the transmissions of data. The input switches and the movement sensor of the mouse will be powered, and upon detecting movement or activation, will provide signals to the controller, which can then activate the RF circuit to transmit the signal. Alternately, the RF circuit could be left on all the time.
  • [0052]
    In the absence of any inputs after a certain period of time, such as one minute, a true sleep mode can be entered. The controller would be in a stop mode, the RF circuitry would be turned off, and the hand detect circuit 126 would be turned on. The controller can reawaken periodically to determine if a hand has been detected. For example, it could reawaken every 100 mS. If no hand is detected, it would go back to sleep. If it is detected, it would awaken the device from the sleep mode.
  • [0053]
    As will be understood by those of skill in the art, the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the essential characteristics thereof. For example, instead of being a pointing device connected to a computer, the input device could be a remote control for controlling a TV or a stereo, or any other electronic equipment. The technique of the invention can also be applied to a gaming device. In particular, hand detection is useful for force-feedback joysticks where a “dead-man switch” has to be implemented in order to prevent the handle from moving when no hand is grasping it. Alternately, other capacitive detection circuits could be used, or an inductive detection circuit and an inductive antenna. Accordingly, the foregoing description is intended to be illustrative, but not limiting, of the scope of the invention which is set forth in the following claims.

Claims (17)

What is claimed is:
1. An input device comprising:
a housing;
user input electronic circuitry for detecting user inputs and transmitting signals corresponding to said inputs to an electronic device;
an antenna;
an antenna circuit coupled to said antenna for transmitting or receiving signals; and
a hand detection circuit coupled to said antenna for detecting the proximity of a user's hand to said housing using said antenna and producing a hand detect signal.
2. The input device of claim 1 wherein said antenna is an inductive antenna.
3. The input device of claim 1 wherein said antenna is a capacitive antenna.
4. The input device of claim 3 further comprising:
a capacitor; and
a switch for coupling said capacitor in parallel with said capacitive antenna when said antenna is used for transmitting or receiving signals instead of being used for hand detection.
5. The input device of claim 4 wherein said capacitor has a value more than double the capacitance of a hand.
6. The input device of claim 4 wherein said capacitor has a value more than ten times the capacitance of a hand.
7. The input device of claim 4 wherein said capacitor has a value of at least 10 pico farads.
8. The input device of claim 1 further comprising:
a sleep-mode circuit, coupled to said user input electronic circuitry, for activating a reduced power operation of said user input electronic circuitry;
said sleep mode circuit being responsive to said hand detect signal to awaken said user input electronic circuitry from said reduced power operation.
9. The device of claim 1 wherein said input device is a pointing device and said electronic device is a computer.
10. The device of claim 1 wherein:
said antenna comprises first and second electrodes on said housing for capacitive connection with a user's hand; and
said hand detection circuit comprises
a first circuit, coupled to said first electrode, for determining an amount of time for charging of a capacitance connected to said first circuit, and
a second circuit, coupled to said second electrode, for determining an amount of time for discharging of a capacitance connected to said second circuit.
11. The device of claim 10 wherein said first circuit comprises:
a comparator;
a controller coupled to an output of said comparator;
a voltage divider feedback circuit coupled between an output and a reference voltage input of said comparator;
a detection capacitor coupled between said first electrode and a signal input of said comparator; and
a switching circuit selectively coupling said signal input of said comparator to high and low voltage supplies.
12. The device of claim 1 wherein said input device is a mouse, and said user input electronic circuitry is an optical module for reflecting light off a surface and detecting movement of said mouse relative to said surface.
13. An input device comprising:
a housing;
user input electronic circuitry for detecting user inputs and transmitting signals corresponding to said inputs to an electronic device;
a capacitive antenna;
an antenna circuit coupled to said antenna for transmitting or receiving signals;
a hand detection circuit coupled to said antenna for detecting the proximity of a user's hand to said housing using said antenna and producing a hand detect signal;
a capacitor; and
a switch for coupling said capacitor in parallel with said capacitive antenna when said antenna is used for transmitting or receiving signals instead of being used for hand detection.
14. An input device comprising:
a housing;
user input electronic circuitry for detecting user inputs and transmitting signals corresponding to said inputs to an electronic device;
a capacitive antenna;
an antenna circuit coupled to said antenna for transmitting or receiving signals;
a hand detection circuit coupled to said antenna for detecting the proximity of a user's hand to said housing using said antenna and producing a hand detect signal;
a capacitor, said capacitor having a value of at least 10 pico farads;
a switch for coupling said capacitor in parallel with said capacitive antenna when said antenna is used for transmitting or receiving signals instead of being used for hand detection;
a sleep-mode circuit, coupled to said user input electronic circuitry, for activating a reduced power operation of said user input electronic circuitry; and
said sleep mode circuit being responsive to said hand detect signal to awaken said user input electronic circuitry from said reduced power operation.
15. A method for operating an input device comprising:
detecting user inputs and transmitting signals corresponding to said inputs to an electronic device external to said input device;
transmitting or receiving signals using an antenna; and
detecting the proximity of a user's hand to said input device using said antenna and producing a hand detect signal.
16. The method of claim 15 wherein said detecting the proximity of a user's hand detects a change in capacitance due to said proximity of a user's hand.
17. The method of claim 16 further comprising switching a capacitor in parallel with said antenna when said antenna is used for transmitting or receiving signals instead of being used for hand detection.
US10124892 2001-01-12 2002-04-17 Input device with capacitive antenna Abandoned US20020126094A1 (en)

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