WO2004063867A2 - Memory cartridge and connector therefor and method - Google Patents

Memory cartridge and connector therefor and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2004063867A2
WO2004063867A2 PCT/US2004/000187 US2004000187W WO2004063867A2 WO 2004063867 A2 WO2004063867 A2 WO 2004063867A2 US 2004000187 W US2004000187 W US 2004000187W WO 2004063867 A2 WO2004063867 A2 WO 2004063867A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
cartridge
connectors
memory
socket
memory cartridge
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2004/000187
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2004063867A3 (en
WO2004063867A8 (en
Inventor
Chung Caleb
Dotson Derek
Original Assignee
Vercel Development, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US43848103P priority Critical
Priority to US60/438,481 priority
Application filed by Vercel Development, Inc. filed Critical Vercel Development, Inc.
Publication of WO2004063867A2 publication Critical patent/WO2004063867A2/en
Publication of WO2004063867A3 publication Critical patent/WO2004063867A3/en
Publication of WO2004063867A8 publication Critical patent/WO2004063867A8/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01RELECTRICALLY-CONDUCTIVE CONNECTIONS; STRUCTURAL ASSOCIATIONS OF A PLURALITY OF MUTUALLY-INSULATED ELECTRICAL CONNECTING ELEMENTS; COUPLING DEVICES; CURRENT COLLECTORS
    • H01R12/00Structural associations of a plurality of mutually-insulated electrical connecting elements, specially adapted for printed circuits, e.g. printed circuit boards [PCBs], flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures, e.g. terminal strips, terminal blocks; Coupling devices specially adapted for printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures; Terminals specially adapted for contact with, or insertion into, printed circuits, flat or ribbon cables, or like generally planar structures
    • H01R12/70Coupling devices
    • H01R12/7076Coupling devices for connection between PCB and component, e.g. display

Abstract

A catridge (26) and a corresponding socket (10) for use in a portable computer device or personal digital assistant or other electrical devices has a form factor as a modification to standard cartridge formats. The catridge includes a row of contacts(16) as contacting surface of the cartridge adjacent the end of the cartridge with the pin connectors and generally parallel to pin contactors (14). The contacing surfaces are conductive metal or other material applied to the surface as strips or regions.

Description

S P E C I F I C A T I O N

TITLE "MEMORY CARTRIDGE AND CONNECTOR THEREFOR

AND METHOD"

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a memory cartridge configuration, a connector for the memory cartridge to connect to either of two types of memory cartridges, and a data structure of the memory cartridge. The invention also relates to a method for providing memory cartridges.

Description of the Related Art

Many electronic devices use removable memory in the form of memory cartridges. These memory cartridges have a variety of form factors that represent several different standards for memory. For example, Compact Flash (CF) memory and Secure Data (SD) memory cartridges are small flattened rectangular bodies having two rows of pin connectors as openings along one end. These memory cartridges are inserted into sockets having an opening generally corresponding to the cross sectional shape of the cartridge and along the back inside wall of which is provided two rows of pins. A cartridge is slid into the slot of the socket and pressed to force the pin connectors onto the pins in the socket openings. The cartridge is thereby in electrical contact with the electrical device. The memory cartridge is removed typically by pressing an eject button adjacent the socket so as to force the cartridge out of the socket by a distance sufficient to release the pin connectors from the pins. In some instances, the memory cartridge may be removed by grasping the cartridge body and pulling.

The memory cartridges contain erasable digital memory typically in the form of solid state memory, although mmiaturized disk memory cartridges are also available. The erasable memory cartridges use non-volatile RAM (Random Access Memory), which is at present costly to produce. The memory cartridges are available with different amounts of memory in the cartridge although the size and format of the cartridge remains uniform for each different amount. For example, memory cartridges are available in 8 Megabyte, 16 Megabyte, 32 Megabyte, 64 Megabyte, 128 Megabyte and 256 Megabyte sizes, and other sizes as well. It is most likely that cartridges with an even greater capacity will be available in the future.

Electrical devices that utilize such memory cartridges include Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), music recorders/players such as MP3 (MPEG audio level 3) file format recorders/players, Windows Media Format (WMF) players, digital cameras, laptop computers and desktop computers.

The memory cartridges are most often used for temporary storage of data, such as in productivity related applications, since work product may be saved to the memory cartridge, stored and/or transferred to other devices, and eventually erased from the memory cartridge so that the memory cartridge may be re-used for other data.

By contrast, another type of cartridge that is available for game consoles and the like are so-called ROM cartridges in that they predominantly contain Read-Only Memory (ROM). These ROM cartridges provide permanent fixed-data storage of data such as game programs. A small amount of erasable memory may be provided in the cartridge for storing the scores of the players, the place in the game or other data. These ROM cartridges are of a different form factor than erasable memory cartridges and fit into connectors of a completely different type than erasable memory cartridges, so that their use cannot be interchanged. For example, they often use edge connectors rather than pin connectors, and are of a different size and shape. The ROM memory in the cartridges is also must less costly to produce than the nonvolatile RAM of the erasable memory cartridges.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a memory cartridge socket that accommodates either the standard form factor memory cartridges or accommodates an improved cartridge by contacting to the improved cartridge with additional contacts in the same socket. The invention also provides an improved memory cartridge format which connects to the additional contacts in the socket.

A method of providing memory cartridges and electronic devices for use with the cartridges is also within the scope of the present invention, wherein an electronic device is provided with the improved memory cartridge socket for accepting two types of cartridges. The electronic device being capable of operation in at least two different operational modes, for example for productivity functions and entertainment functions. The two types of memory cartridges are provided for different types operational modes, respectively. For example, memory cartridges that utilize the standard connectors in the socket may be used for the productivity operational mode and memory cartridges that use the additional contacts in the socket may be used by the electronic device for the entertainment operational mode.

A method also includes providing non-erasable memory on memory cartridges that fit into the socket and contact the additional contacts. Standard erasable memory cartridges fit into the socket and do not electrically contact the additional contacts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a side view of a standard cartridge mounted in the present socket;

Figure 2 is a side view of the improved cartridge of the invention mounted in the socket of the invention;

Figure 3 is an end view of the improved cartridge shown in the socket, according to the principles of the present invention;

Figure 4 is a plan view of the socket of the invention into which a cartridge is inserted;

Figure 5 is a block diagram of the cartridge interface; and

Figure 6 is a memory block layout for the present cartridge.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS According to one embodiment, the socket of the present invention accepts two types of memory cartridges, either erasable memory cartridges or ROM memory cartridges. One type of erasable memory is known as flash memory. Thus, a single connector slot in an electronic device can use either erasable memory or ROM memory. According to one development of the invention, the erasable memory cartridges are connected to pin contacts in the socket and the ROM memory cartridges are connected to surface connectors in the socket, h other words, the contacts press against a conductive metallized area on the surface of the cartridge. The ROM cartridges may use the pin contacts for electrical connection, or may use the pins only for alignment and physical support purposes but not for electrical connections, or even may avoid the pins altogether, hi the embodiments which do not use the pin connectors for electrical contact, the cost of the pin connectors are eliminated, thus reducing the costs of producing the cartridges. The ROM cartridges also lack erasable memory, in particular flash memory, and are cheaper to produce for that reason as well.

In a further embodiment, the cartridges which use the edge-type connectors or surface connectors have erasable memory, for example, flash memory contained therein. This provides an alternative to the use of the pin and pin socket arrangement, thereby eliminating the cost of the pin socket from the cost of the cartridge and making the cartridges cheaper to produce.

The surface contacts may be used only for reading data from the cartridges or may be used for both reading and writing data between the cartridge and the electronic device.

The ROM memory must be manufactured to incorporated the data in a permanent state, such as by masking and etching and the like. This process takes time and is expensive at the start, but large quantities identical memory can be produced cheaply, so that the end cost is far less than the flash memory chips of the erasable memory cartridges.

According to one aspect, the socket has the standard arrangement of pins and further additional connectors, and the cartridge has connectors for connection to the further connectors of the socket. According to another aspect of the invention, the further connectors includes an additional row of connectors. The additional row of connectors of a preferred embodiment are surface contacts wherein the socket has surface contact elements and the cartridge has conductive areas, such as a metallization, on its surface against which the surface contact elements bear when the cartridge is in position in the socket. The conductive areas are edge connector type contacts.

The preferred cartridge does not electrically connect to the pins for the standard memory cartridge but only electrically connects to the additional connectors. Fewer connections are required, since the device need not write to the cartridge, or may only write to a small area. Openings are provided in the body of the preferred cartridge which fit over the pins when the cartridge is in the socket to provide physical support and alignment of the cartridge in the socket. Alternatively, the cartridge uses some or all of the connector pins for the standard cartridge and also uses the additional connectors.

The cartridge may be of the same size and shape as the standard cartridge or may be thicker, at least on part of the cartridge. The embodiment of the cartridge which is thicker than the standard cartridge may have the surface contact areas on a thicker portion of the cartridge so that the surface contacts are in physical contact only with the present improved cartridge and not with a standard cartridge.

The row of additional contacts of the present cartridge and socket may extend the full width of the cartridge, but in a preferred embodiment the row of additional contacts only extends a portion of the width of the cartridge and, in one embodiment, has six contact elements, hi another embodiment, fifteen additional contacts are provided. These may either be all evenly spaced from one another, or have irregular spacing, such as thirteen contacts then a space then two contacts. The additional contacts of one embodiment are below the pins of the standard cartridge contacts.

The present socket engages the opposite side edges of the cartridges as the cartridges are slid into and removed from the connected position and while the cartridges are in the connected position. The side portions of the socket are shaped to accept either the standard cartridges or the improved cartridges of the present invention. These side portions may be the same dimension as for the standard cartridges. A stop is provided to halt further insertion of the cartridge into the socket.

The present socket may have a slot that is wider in its narrowest dimension compared to the standard socket slot at the middle portion, i.e. between the opposite sides. The inside end of the socket has the rows of pins that are present in the standard socket across the full width of the socket and the row of additional contacts is provided in the inside end of the socket adjacent the middle of the row of contact pins, the additional contacts running parallel to the pins of the socket.

In one embodiment, the additional contacts of the socket are spaced from the rows of pins. The cartridge has a raised portion running generally parallel to the pin connectors and set back a short distance from the pin connector end. The raised portion forms a thickening of the cartridge. The surface contact portions are provided along the raised portion or at the end thereof. The socket of one embodiment has 50 pins in a Flash Type 2 connector. Compact Flash Type 1 is also used, according to the invention. The standard cartridge for one embodiment of the socket is 42.80mm wide by 36.40mm long by 3.30mm thick.

The socket opening of the present invention is shaped to accept either the standard cartridges or the improved cartridge. The socket connector with the pins is mounted on a printed circuit board inside an electronic device. The socket is lifted off the circuit board by one tenth of inch, in one embodiment.

The present invention permits an electronic device, such a game playing console, computer, music player, personal digital assistant (PDA), etc. The standard cartridges are used by the device in the standard way. The cartridges of the present invention provide different functionality for the device, or may have stored thereon proprietary software or the like. Music files, games, application programs or data files may be stored on the inventive cartridges, and some or all of the stored data may be transferred to the electronic device, either while the cartridge is plugged in or even after the cartridge is removed. The present cartridges may be recordable and so provide memory for storage of data. The device is made aware of the insertion of an inventive cartridge through interrupts. According to one aspect of the invention, the cartridges have a capacity of one to four Megabytes and perhaps up to eight Megabytes, although other values are of course possible. hi one embodiment, the cartridge is to be used in a device such as is shown in pending U.S. patent application Serial No. 09/727,434, filed November 30, 2000, and published as U.S. Published Patent Application Publication US 2002/00663690 Al on May 30, 2002. Such device may be a hybrid device which merges productivity and entertainment when used with the socket and memory of the present invention.

With reference to the drawings, Figure 1 is the side view of an improved socket 10 of the present invention. A type 1 Compact Flash (CF) cartridge 12 is in connected position in the socket 10 and connected to pins 14 at the inside end of the socket. An electrical connection is made between the pins 14 and pin sockets that extend into the connection end of the cartridge 12. The electrical connection permits operation of circuits within the cartridge including memory circuits and other circuits. The standard Compact Flash cartridge 12 does not contact cartridge contacts 16 which are provided in the socket 10 for a second cartridge type nor does it extend into an area 18 below the cartridge 12 that is referred to as a cartridge notch. A main printed circuit board 20 is shown below the cartridge 12.

A side rail 22 of the socket 10 which engages the side of the memory cartridge 12 is indicated by hatching. The socket 10 has a stop 24 against which the cartridge 12 is pushed when the cartridge 12 is plugged onto the pins 14. hi this configuration, the cartridge 12 and socket 10 are using the standard functions of the erasable memory cartridge, including writing data to the cartridge and reading data from the cartridge and erasing the data from the cartridge. The electronic device in which they are provided, i.e. in which the socket 10 is mounted, operates according to the standards for use of such erasable memory cartridge. The user may thereby produce and store data, transfer data and erase or modify the data as desired.

Of course, the cartridge 12 is inserted into and removed from the socket 10 by a sliding motion. The sliding motion may be the result of being inserted by hand, or may be at least assisted by a pushing mechanism. Such pushing mechanisms, particularly for removing cartridges from sockets, are well known in the art and art within the scope of the present invention.

Figure 2 is a side view of a second type of cartridge 26 in the socket 10 of Figure 1. The second cartridge 26 is thicker at least in an area 28 at the mid line of the cartridge and extends into the so-called cartridge notch 18 in the socket 10. The lateral sides of the cartridge fit the rails 22 of the socket 10. The second cartridge 12 also has metallized regions 30 on its lower surface at an end portion that extends into a position to contact the cartridge contacts 16 in a surface contact connection. The contact connection is made by sliding insertion of the cartridge 26 into the socket 10. Removal of the cartridge 26 from the socket 10 is also by sliding motion, either by hand or at least assisted by a pushing mechanism, as noted above.

The pins 14 which are used for the standard cartridge 12 are not used for an electrical connection by the second cartridge 26 of one embodiment, although they are used for physical alignment and support by being accepted into openings of the cartridge 26. The openings in the cartridge 26 which accept the pins 14 do not include electrical connections, according to one embodiment. The openings may be shaped to fit snugly on the pins 14 for greater mechanical connection or loosely or even not touching the pins 14 for less or even no mechanical connection to the pins 14. The openings need not equal in number the number of pins 14 in the socket 10, but maybe fewer, including as few as one opening to encompass all of the pins 14 of the socket 10.

When in the fully inserted position, the cartridge 26 abuts the stop 24 which the standard cartridge also uses to halt further insertion into the socket 10.

The end of the cartridge 26 which extends out of the socket 10 of one embodiment has a upwardly curved portion 26a for gripping while removing the cartridge 26 from the socket 10. The curved portion 26a is in cross section of a shape of a portion of a crescent. In addition to improving the gripping of the cartridge 26 as it is withdrawn from the socket, the curved portion 26a facilitates stacking of the cartridge with like-shaped cartridges. The upwardly curved portion can be of other shapes and configurations, all of which are within the scope of the present invention. For instance, a rectangular projection can be provided at the end of the cartridge. It is also foreseeable and within the scope of the present invention that the curved portion or other shaped portion may be directed downward.

For purposes of the present invention, pin connectors refer either to the pin elements, or male portion of the connector, or to the pin sockets, or female portion of the connector, or it may refer to both. The term pin connectors include connectors with provide electrical and mechanical connection and also refers to connectors that provide only mechanical connection without electrical connection.

The second type of cartridge is also referred to herein as a N cartridge or N card, although these terms in no way limit the scope of the present invention.

Figure 3 is an end view of the cartridge 26 and the socket 10 in which it is mounted. The side rails 22 are shown engaging the sides of the cartridge 26 at a position to the sides of the pins 14. The socket 10 and side rails 22 may accept a standard memory cartridge. The thickening 28 of the improved cartridge 26 is shown extending into the area 18 known as the cartridge notch. The cartridge contacts 16 are shown extending from the circuit board 20.

In the plan view of Figure 4 is shown the side supports 22 in the socket for holding the Compact Flash cartridges 12. The second type cartridge 26 uses these side supports 22 but does not use the pins 14 for the standard Compact Flash cartridge 12. Instead, the second cartridge 26 uses a short row of contacts 16 indicated on the drawing by a rectangle at the center of the row of Compact Flash pins. The contacts 16 are surface contact elements of a type used in surface contacting of electrical devices or edge connecting of electrical devices.

The illustrated embodiment provides for sliding contact of the second cartridge 26 onto the contacts 16, and so abrasion resistant contact material is preferred for the contacts.

Figure 5 shows the interface for one embodiment of the cartridge, including the 14 pins for the pin-out arrangement. The pins are provided as follows:

Pins:

0: Power (Ndd) 1: Ground

2 - 9: Address/Data (AD)

10: Micro Control 0 (MCO) - In address-bus mode (discussed below) and MCO is high, AD[7:0] signifies high-address, AD[15:8]. When MCO is low, AD[7:0] expresses low- address, AD[7:0]. In data-bus mode , AD[7:0] represent data, D[7:0], which is read by the CPU (Central Processor Unit) when MCO is high and writes data to AD[7:0] when MCO is low.

11 : Micro Control 1 - When this pin is high, AD[7:0] function as an address bus. Alternatively, when MCI is low AD [7:0] act as a data-bus.

12: N-Cartridge Detect - This pin is high when there is a N-Cartridge inserted into the CF socket, and is read low when there is anything else besides a N-Cartridge in the CF socket. This pin can be attached to a specific interrupt in order to launch the Hot-Plug feature.

13: Reset.

14: Ready.

The start address the memory space of the card is fixed, such as OxdOOOOOOO.

The maximum possible end address the memory space for this embodiment of the card is fixed, such as 0xd0800000 (start address + 8Meg).

The cartridge interface is able to differentiate a variety of type cards by reading a small block (for example 20-bytes) of raw data from the start address (such as OxdOOOOOOO) of the memory card. This portion of data should be placed in a reserved section that is dedicated for ID purposes. This concept is further discussed in the section on System Software Requirements. (NOTE: The 20-byte can be changed and will essentially be the - length of the first available block of memory on the N-Card (ROM/Flash).) See Figure 6 for further information.

System Software Requirements: The cartridge 26 is preferably accessible as a block device for Linux as a mount in /mnt/vcard.

Here the contents of the cards beyond the ID Header Block, such as games, mp3s, PIMs, and/or movies will be visible. For example, mp3 files will be located in /mnt/vcard/mp3/. The driver should provide simple read, write and erase commands that will be transparent to the application (discussed in the next section).

The I/O to the card is buffered.

The card signature is pre-pended to the beginning of card memory. The device driver reads this ' ID Header Block' to determine the N-Cartridges characteristics.

A brief layout of the ID Header is as follows:

Card Header Block (0x0):

0 - Card (10100101) - Any other pattern is considered as an illegal card and rejected. This is the Cartridge ID that is resident on all cards.

1 - Card Type:

0x01 - ROM: This designates the card type as a Read Only Memory card.

0x10 - Flash: This defines the card as read/write storage card.

If the Card Type byte has any other bit pattern then the card is rejected and considered corrupt.

2 - File System:

OxCF - cramfs: Define the file system as cramfs for ROM cards.

OxFl - jffs: Define file system as jffs (Journaling Flash File System) for flash cards.

0xF2 - jffs2: Define the file system as jffs2 (An extension of jffs) for flash cards.

3-5 - Size of File System: This may require more than one byte of ID block memory to be dedicated in order to accurately record the size of the file system. This ID Header Block is not part of the mounted file system. A ReadHeaderO function may be used to read the contents of the header block. All other read/writes of the memory card will happen at an offset memory in order to preserve this Id. In particular, the ReadHeader() function reads only the header info of Figure 5, whereas all other user read/write routines other than formatting access the ROM/flash area of the card memory.

As mentioned above, a flash card utilizes a jffs file system and maintains the wear leveling and garbage collection feature. For a ROM card, a cramfs file system (Compressed ROM file system) is maintained. However, the hardware device driver itself should know nothing of the storage formats used, such as cramfs, jffs, etc., but provides simple routines for read, write, and erase. The application layer, or the user layer, uses these simple commands to determine characteristics of the memory card, such as file system type.

Memory Technology Device (MTD) Subsystems provide this type of architecture or separation of hardware and user.

A module called NCardMgr (N-Cartridges Manager) is added to Linux kernel and is loaded at boot time, and supports the hot-plug feature.

Upon card insertion, after the type of the card is identified, corresponding modules are loaded by NCardMgr, and the file system is mounted.

Upon card detachment, a detach interrupt is sent, corresponding modules are unloaded by NCardMgr, and the file system is un-mounted. Some programs running on the UDl PDA that were using the card may remain resident in memory.

There are several varieties of Meta file types of N-Cartridges: MP3, JAVA game, MPEG, Recorder, Recovery, Upgrade, PIM, and other applications. All the files are identified by the suffix of the file, and it is optional to define this in a description file on the card.

An application called AppMgr (Application Manager) is implemented to manage the applications, such as launching, unloading, presenting icons, presenting animation, hexagon drag-and-draw feature, and the page up/down feature. AppMgr only has access to the mounted portion of N-Cartridge memory and does not know anything about the ID Header unless it is passed that information from the device driver.

Rescue, backup, and upgrade functionality are provided.

Upon valid card insertion, a certain icon representing the corresponding application is presented. Users can then click and run the program directly from that icon.

Upon valid card detachment, the application will be removed as well in the screen panel (icon).

The icon can be either predefined or fetched from the card, animation of launching certain application is applicable.

The application for N-Cartridges should be power aware in order to prevent data transfer discrepancies. This may require monitoring of the battery cell itself prior to any large file transfers. If the battery cell is below a certain range, the user will be asked to plug in an AC adaptor or recharge before executing.

The application may prompt user to re-insert/change card at run time, and it is also possible to unload the application when corresponding card was removed, it may vary for different applications. In other words some applications may be required to quit and kill themselves.

Other applications will halt operation until a second card is entered.

If there is more than one type of meta file inside the card, each meta file or each type of file is presented in the screen with the appropriate icon.

The directory or sub-directories architecture are considered and supported.

The mounted file system contains a standardized set of directories and files, following a naming convention that is used by subscribing applications, including the AppMgr.

Example: /config/index

/mp3/rock/blah.mp3

/games/j ava/BattleWarrior/battle.class Test Plan and Quality Assurance Requirements:

Performance and feature tests are provided, especially for directly playing MPEG/MP3 files stored on the card.

The NcardMgr and other device driver modules of one embodiment are less than 200k total.

The memory occupation of NcardMgr and other device driver modules at run time are preferably less than 500k (except for buffering the huge video/audio data) total.

The look and feel of the AppMgr and individual applications can be defined separately.

Thus, there is provided a cartridge for use in a portable computer device or personal digital assistant or other electrical device which has a form factor as a modification to compact flash or secure data memory cartridge standards. Other form factors may be used instead. The present cartridge includes a row of contacts as contacting surfaces on a surface of the cartridge adjacent the end of the cartridge with the pin connectors and generally parallel to the pin connectors. The contacting surfaces are conductive metal or other material applied to the surface as stripes or regions. For example, the contacting surfaces of one embodiment are a series of short stripes applied to the underside surface of the cartridge at the end having the pin connectors.

The socket for the standard cartridge has rows, generally two rows, of pins extending toward the opening of the socket. The standard cartridge is slid into the socket opening and, as it reaches the fully inserted position, the pin sockets engage the pins of the socket. The standard cartridge is thereby electrically connected in the socket. The improved cartridge uses the additional contacts instead for its electrical connection to the electronic device.

The socket for the present invention has the rows of pins as in the standard socket so that standard sockets can be inserted and connected therein. It also has a further row of contacts extending parallel to the rows of pins. The further row may be above or below the rows of standard pins, or may be both above and below. This further row of contacts are surface type contact elements that come into contact with the surface contact portion of the cartridge when the cartridge of the preferred embodiment of the invention is fully inserted into the socket.

Surface contacting elements are provided in the socket which press in a row parallel to the rows of pins.

Thus, there is provided a socket in an electronic device that accepts standard erasable memory which is used for storage of productivity related data, such as word processor files, spread sheet files, image files, and the like. The productivity related data may be erased from the memory cartridge readily so that the cartridge can be used to store other data. The socket in the electronic device also accepts the improved cartridge and electrically contacts with the improved cartridge by the additional contacts.

The present cartridge is predominantly a ROM cartridge on which is stored nonerasable data. The non-erasable data may be games, music files, music videos, movie files, or picture files, for example. This non-erasable data is directed generally to entertainment, although other software for purposes may be provided as well.

For purposes of the present invention, the device in which the present cartridge is used may be referred to as a computer device. This includes desktop computers, laptop computers, workstation computers, personal computers, personal data assistants (PDAs), game devices including handheld game devices, portable Internet devices, portable telephones, and other electronic devices.

The non-erasable ROM cartridges may be printed or marked to indicate the data content of the cartridge. A music video or movie on the ROM cartridge may be indicated by cover art provided as a label on the cartridge. The user is thus immediately able to recognize the contents of the cartridge. This is referred to as tangible media, in that the data on the media is represented on the media container.

The cartridges can be exchanged or traded, borrowed or sold and so the media thereon gets exposure to a large audience, each of whom see the labeling on the cartridge. Advertising can be carried on the cartridge, so that this audience is exposed to this advertising.

According to one aspect of the invention, a link is provided in the data stored on the cartridge of the present invention, the link being an Internet link, such as a link to a web page, that is accessible when the electronic device is playing the media from the cartridge. The Internet link is related to the program material being played, or to the store, production company or other entity associated with the program material. The operator of the device may activate the link to access an Internet site for more information on the musician(s), game, or other entertainment programming being viewed. The invention thereby provides a link between the tangible media and the on-line resources that related to it. A trade route is established by the cartridge between the Internet link and who ever has or is using the cartridge at the moment, whether they obtained it by original purchase, resale, trade, borrowing, gift, etc.

The cartridges travel from consumer to consumer, so that the Internet link or Web link also travels from consumer to consumer. This advertising approach is akin to viruses, in that it spreads by contact between individuals. Word of new music groups is spread from friend to friend as they trade the cartridges, and each of the cartridges carries a link back to the Web site of the music retailer who offers that music for sale. Thus, the present cartridge ties the music media to the Internet and to the music retailer, h one embodiment, there are no or little use limitations on the entertainment software on the cartridge. Thus, the user may play the music, video or game and freely exchange, trade or sell the cartridge to others who may freely use or play the entertainment software.

Music videos are particularly attractive for the present cartridges. The player device may store an entire music video including visual and sound data in a compressed format on a conveniently sized card. The screen of a preferred player plays the visual information at ! VGA format, so less storage is required than for high resolution play. It is also foreseen that the Internet link may relate to something other than the programming on the media, such as providing contests, coupons, offers to purchase other media or goods, etc.

The references to productivity versus entertainment for the classes of data on the memory cartridges are not strictly applied, and data of other types can be provided on the cartridges. For example, the non-erasable ROM cartridges may be utilized as a software distribution channel. The end user would be unable to erase the data, whether it relates to a productivity function, entertainment function, or otherwise.

According to an aspect of the invention, the improved cartridges of the invention have an upwardly curved outer end facilitating grasping to pull the cartridge from the socket and facilitating stacking of the cartridges. The upwardly curved outer end is shown in the Figure 2 at the left hand end of the cartridge. The cartridges of a preferred embodiment have fittings formed thereon permitting the cartridges to snap together into a stack, much like a child's snap together building blocks, hi one example, the fittings are interference fit projections and recesses similar to those used on LEGO toys. This makes storage and transport of the cartridges simpler.

Although other modifications and changes may be suggested by those skilled in the art, it is the intention of the inventors to embody within the patent warranted hereon all changes and modifications as reasonably and properly come within the scope of their contribution to the art.

Claims

We Claim:
1. A cartridge connector, comprising: a socket defining an opening for receiving a memory cartridge; first connectors in said socket for connecting to a memory cartridge of a first type when said memory cartridge of said first type is in a connected position in said socket, only said first connectors connecting to said memory cartridge of said first type when said memory cartridge of said first type is in said connected position said socket; and second connectors in said socket for connecting to a memory cartridge of a second type when said memory cartridge of said second type is in a connected position, said memory cartridge of said second type connecting to at least said second connectors when said memory cartridge of said second type is in said connected position in said socket.
2. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first connectors are of a first connector type and said second connectors are of a second connector type.
3. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 2, wherein said first connectors of said first connector type are pin connectors and said second connectors of said second connector type are surface connectors.
4. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first connectors are disposed in at least one row with contact surfaces of said first connectors lying generally in at least a first plane; and wherein said second connectors are disposed in at least one row with contact surfaces of said second connectors lying generally in a second plane.
5. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 4, wherein said first plane is substantially parallel to said second plane.
6. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said socket defines a first region of a first width and a second region of a second width, said first connectors being in said first region and said second connectors being in said second region, said first width being greater than said second width.
7. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 6, wherein said first region of said socket includes side rails projecting into a space defined by said socket opening.
8. A cartridge connector as claimed in claim 6, wherein said first width and said second width are perpendicular to an insertion direction for inserting a memory cartridge into said socket.
9. A memory cartridge, comprising: electronic memory operable to store data; a housing enclosing said electronic memory, said housing including a connector end; first connectors at said connector end defining all connectors of a standard contact configuration; and second connectors connected to said electronic memory, said second connectors being disposed outside a region of a standard contact configuration and providing electrical connections to said electronic memory.
10. A memory cartridge as claimed in claim 9, wherein said first connectors are pin connectors and said second connectors are surface contacts.
11. A memory cartridge as claimed in claim 9, further comprising: a thickening extending from a major plane of said housing adjacent said connector end, said second electrical contacts being provided at said thickening.
12. A memory cartridge as claimed in claim 11, wherein said second electrical contacts are surface contacts at said connector end.
13. A memory cartridge as claimed in claim 9, further comprising: a projection extending from a major plane of said housing adjacent to an end of said housing opposite to said connector end.
14. A memory cartridge as claimed in claim 13, wherein said projection includes curved surface portions and having a cross section in a shape of a portion of a crescent.
15. A memory cartridge system, comprising: a socket defining an opening for receiving a memory cartridge; first connectors in said socket for connecting to a memory cartridge of a first type when said memory cartridge of said first type is in a connected position in said socket, only said first connectors connecting to said memory cartridge of said first type when said memory cartridge of said first type is in said connected position said socket; second connectors in said socket for connecting to a memory cartridge of a second type when said memory cartridge of said second type is in a connected position, said memory cartridge of said second type connecting to at least said second connectors when said memory cartridge of said second type is in said connected position in said socket; a first memory cartridge of said first type selectively comiectable to said first connectors; and a second memory cartridge of said second type selectively connectable to at least said second connectors.
16. A memory cartridge system as claimed in claim 15, wherein said first connectors are pin connectors and said second connectors are surface connectors.
17. A memory cartridge system as claimed in claim 15, wherein said second memory cartridge defines a clearance avoiding said first connectors when said second memory cartridge is in said connected position in said socket.
18. A memory cartridge system as claimed in claim 15, wherein said first connectors are pin connectors and said second memory cartridge includes defines openings to receive said pin connectors.
19. A memory cartridge system as claimed in claim 15, wherein said first memory cartridge is of a first thickness and said second memory cartridge is of a second thickness, wherein said second thickness is greater than said first thickness.
20. A memory cartridge system as claimed in claim 15, wherein said second memory cartridges are shaped to fit together with further ones of said second memory cartridges in an engaged relationship.
21. A method for linking cartridge media to an on-line resource, comprising the steps of: providing a cartridge having a data storage therein; providing data in a non-erasable portion of said data storage; providing activatable links to the on-line resource on a network in said non-erasable portion, said activatable links being activatable upon use of said use of said cartridge in a computer device connected to said network.
22. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said data in said non-erasable portion includes entertainment software data.
23. A method as claimed in claim 22, wherein said entertainment software data includes music data.
24. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said network is the Internet and said on-line resource is a site on the Internet.
25. A method for distribution of information, comprising the steps of: providing cartridges having entertainment data stored thereon, said cartridges being for use in a computer device; permitting free exchange of said cartridges between users; providing links to on-line resources in data stored on said cartridges, said links being activatable by users using said cartridges while said computer device is connected to a network; and providing the information at sites accessed by use of said cartridges so that users receive the information while using said cartridges.
26. A method as claimed in claim 25, wherein said entertainment data on said cartridges includes music data.
27. A method as claimed in claim 25, wherein said step of permitting free exchange includes avoiding use limitations on said entertainment software on said cartridge.
PCT/US2004/000187 2003-01-07 2004-01-07 Memory cartridge and connector therefor and method WO2004063867A2 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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US43848103P true 2003-01-07 2003-01-07
US60/438,481 2003-01-07

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Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5659459A (en) * 1992-05-20 1997-08-19 Seiko Epson Corporation Cartridge for electronic devices including grounding pads and conductive shielding to decrease the wavelength of emitted electromagnetic radiation
US5805404A (en) * 1995-05-17 1998-09-08 Lucent Technologies Inc. Common insulating housing for elements of varying terminals

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5659459A (en) * 1992-05-20 1997-08-19 Seiko Epson Corporation Cartridge for electronic devices including grounding pads and conductive shielding to decrease the wavelength of emitted electromagnetic radiation
US5805404A (en) * 1995-05-17 1998-09-08 Lucent Technologies Inc. Common insulating housing for elements of varying terminals

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WO2004063867A8 (en) 2005-04-07

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