With Independent Operators Patents (Class 200/5A)
  • Patent number: 6166337
    Abstract: A device includes a housing, a built-in electric printed circuit board and a set of keys positioned near to a wall of the housing. At least a key portion movable by depression, positioned substantially perpendicularly to the wall, is present inside the housing and, aligned to the key portion, a first moving contact actuator portion, as well as a cooperating contact portion that makes breakable electrical contact with the printed circuit board. The depressible key portion is positioned on a first face of a first portion of an elastic carrier plate inside the housing and the first moving contact actuator portion is positioned on the facing second face. The contact portion is connected to a first face of the elastic carrier plate facing the printed circuit board. A second moving contact actuator portion is present on the second face of the second portion of the elastic carrier plate and is aligned to the contact portion.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 22, 1999
    Date of Patent: December 26, 2000
    Assignee: U.S. Phillips Corporation
    Inventor: Arnaud Flegeo
  • Patent number: 6157323
    Abstract: A multiple input key for inputting characters and the key has a body with a top and bottom surface, with the bottom surface being proximal to a printed circuit board and the top surface being distal from the printed circuit board. The key is pivotable about a pivot. A pivot extends from the bottom surface of the body and has an electrical contact pad such that when the contact pad contacts one of the leads on the printed circuit board a circuit is closed. A skirt surrounds the periphery of the body of the key and the skirt operatively supports the body of the key on the printed circuit board.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 25, 1999
    Date of Patent: December 5, 2000
    Inventors: Kevin H. K. Tso, Kenneth K. Li, Daniel S. Kwoh
  • Patent number: 6156983
    Abstract: A water-proof keyboard, wherein proper grooves are installed on the upper cover of the keyboard, and a plurality of drain holes are installed on the front edge of each groove. The drain holes are penetrated to the bottom of the upper cover and drain tubes are connected therebelow. A plurality of sleeves with respect to the drain tubes are installed on the seat of the keyboard. Within each sleeve is formed with a respective through hole each drain tube inserts into the respective through hole within the sleeve. In the water-proof keyboard of the present invention, the liquid flowing into the keyboard may drain out rapidly so that the liquid flowing into the circuit unit can be prevented effectively. Therefore, the circuit will not short or destroyed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 1, 1999
    Date of Patent: December 5, 2000
    Assignee: Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Tsung-Min Chen, Heng-Liang Lin
  • Patent number: 6153843
    Abstract: A control-key device is provided for use as a controller for a video game including a direction specifying key mounted on a housing which an operator manipulates to control the play of a video game, where the surface of said direction specifying key comprises a combination of concave portions to facilitate use of the direction specifying key. The unit preferably comprises a push button and a housing including a hole through which the push button protrudes. The housing extends along a plane wherein said plane intersects a plane perpendicular to an axis of said push button at a predetermined angle, and said plane of said housing also extending parallel to a plane defined by the surface of said push button.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 6, 1997
    Date of Patent: November 28, 2000
    Assignee: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
    Inventors: Toshinori Date, Johnny D. Couch, Sarah Mason Richmond
  • Patent number: 6153844
    Abstract: Provided is a hinge type thinly configured integrated type key top in which the strength, durability, operability and other required conditions of a hinge portion are optimally designed assuring easy manufacturing and assembling as well as key input device and computer using the same. It is an integrated type key top in which a plurality of key tops are integrated with a peripheral frame portion. Each key top has in the vicinity of both ends of its specified one side a portion deformably connected to the frame portion via a hinge portion which extends approximately in a linear shape of a specified width and a specified thickness. The key top, the hinge portions and the frame portion are integrated with one another and made of a resin material, while the hinge portion has a thickness t (mm) and a total width w (mm) which are set so that 8.ltoreq.20t+w.ltoreq.14 is satisfied in a range of 0.25.ltoreq.t.ltoreq.0.6 and 2.ltoreq.w.ltoreq.10.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 27, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 28, 2000
    Assignee: Mitsubishi Denki Kabushiki Kaisha
    Inventors: Tadashi Hyono, Manabu Uchizawa
  • Patent number: 6147314
    Abstract: Systems and methods are described for an integral button pivot bar. A palm sized computer that can be held in one hand and operated with a stylus held by another hand, includes: a connecting trunk; a first connecting member coupled to the connecting trunk; an independently actuatable button coupled to the first connecting member; a second connecting member coupled to the connecting trunk; a torsion bar connected to the second connecting member; and an independently actuatable rocking switch coupled to the second connecting member. The connecting trunk, the first connecting member, the independently actuatable button, the second connecting member, the torsion bar, and the independently actuatable rocking switch are all integrally formed and actuating the independently actuatable rocking switch does not affect the independently actuatable button.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 30, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 14, 2000
    Assignee: Palm, Inc.
    Inventors: Amy Han, Ricardo Penate, Traci Angela Neist, Robert Gregory Twiss
  • Patent number: 6144003
    Abstract: A switch storing chamber (8) of a membrane switch is communicated with the exterior and no water droplet enters the switch storing chamber (8). At least one upper gas permeable chamber (5c) (5d) is formed between an upper membrane sheet (2) and a spacer sheet (3) by surrounding a peripheral portion of this upper gas permeable chamber by adhesive material layers (9) (13), and at least one lower gas permeable chamber (5a) (5b) is formed between a lower membrane sheet (4) and the spacer sheet (3) by surrounding a peripheral portion of this lower gas permeable chamber by the adhesive material layers (9) (13). The upper gas permeable chamber (5c) (5d) and the lower gas permeable chamber (5a) (5b) partially overlap each other in a vertical direction and communicate with each other by a gas permeable hole (15) of the spacer sheet (3) bored in an overlapping position so that a gas permeable passage (5) vertically curved in a zigzag shape is formed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 9, 1999
    Date of Patent: November 7, 2000
    Assignee: SMK Corporation
    Inventor: Osamu Kamishima
  • Patent number: 6140596
    Abstract: An improved structure of tact switch comprises a seat body, a first elastic element, a press set, and a closure body. After assembling and jointing the first elastic element and the press set in the seat body, the assembly procedure is to couple the closure body onto the seat body. When the press set is pressed down by an external force, it will in turn press the first elastic element downwards to make connection between a first conductive electrode and a pair of second conductive electrodes.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 4, 2000
    Date of Patent: October 31, 2000
    Assignee: Shin Jiuh Corporation
    Inventor: Chin-Shan Tsay
  • Patent number: 6140593
    Abstract: A switch array (10) comprising a housing (12) having a front face (14), a rear face (16), and a number of through bores (18) extending from the front face to the rear face; a resilient switch card (30) having a front face (34) directed towards the rear face of the housing, a rear face (36) directed away from the housing, and a number of contact areas (38) on the front face associated with each through bore, wherein the number and position of the contact areas associated with each through bore is identical; a switch cap (20) slidably mounted in, and removable from, one of the through bores, the switch cap having a front face (22) adjacent the front face of the housing, a rear face (24) adjacent the rear face of the housing, and one or more pins (28) projecting from the rear face of the switch cap, wherein the number and position of the or each pin is predetermined, and wherein the or each pin can exert pressure on one of the contact areas associated with the through bore on pushing the switch cap from a rest p
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 24, 1999
    Date of Patent: October 31, 2000
    Assignee: Delphi Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Wulf Bramesfeld, Thomas Plinta, Anke Wilhelm, Harald Krause
  • Patent number: 6137072
    Abstract: A touch control panel for use in controlling an electrical device such as a washer, dryer, stove, microwave or related piece of electrical equipment. In a preferred embodiment, the touch control panel comprises an outer panel formed of flexible aluminum. The outer panel includes an outer and an inner surface. The inner surface of the aluminum panel includes a first circuit formed along at least a portion of the surface. The control panel also includes an inner support panel comprising a porcelain enamel metal substrate. The porcelain enamel metal substrate affords a highly durable and rigid degree of support to the control panel. The support panel has an inner surface which is spaced from and disposed substantially parallel to the inner surface of the outer panel. The inner surface of the metal substrate has formed along at least a portion thereof a second circuit. Upon application of tactile pressure upon the outer surface of the outer panel, the first circuit contacts the second circuit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 26, 1999
    Date of Patent: October 24, 2000
    Assignee: Ferro Corporation
    Inventors: Robert H. Martter, Craig C. Sundberg, Richard N. Giardina, William P. Laneve, G. James Deutschlander
  • Patent number: 6133536
    Abstract: A key switch assembly of the present invention comprises a housing, first and second contacts, and a metal dome. The housing forms an aperture inwardly recessed from a side surface thereof. The first and second contacts are partially received in the housing and include first and second contact portions, first and second mounting portions for being mounted on the circuit board, and first and second connecting portions respectively connected between the first and second contact portions and the first and second mounting portions. The metal dome is securely received in the aperture of the housing and includes a base and a mating portion extending from the base. The mating portion contacts the first contact portion of the first contact and the base contacts the second contact portion of the second contact when the metal dome is depressed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 19, 1999
    Date of Patent: October 17, 2000
    Assignee: Hon Hai Precision Ind. Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Jung-Kuo Hunag, Max Peng
  • Patent number: 6111207
    Abstract: A multi-configurable office machine, which includes a control panel subassembly having a plurality of user-activated key-switches for controlling functions of the office machine. A first control panel cover is adapted for installation on the control panel subassembly, the first cover comprising a first cover structure providing user access to a first set of the key-switches when the first cover is installed on the control panel subassembly. A second control panel cover is adapted for installation on the control panel subassembly, the second cover comprising a second cover structure providing user access to a second set of the key-switches when the second cover is installed on the control panel subassembly. By installing a selected one of the panel covers, different groups of the key-switches are accessible to the user, thereby configuring the machine to a first configuration or a second configuration.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 30, 1999
    Date of Patent: August 29, 2000
    Assignee: Hewlett-Packard Company
    Inventors: John H. Arterberry, Dan Scott Caputo, Paul M. O'Brien
  • Patent number: 6103979
    Abstract: A keyboard includes a plurality of keys, wherein each key has an elongated shape elongated in a first direction and selectively establishes two different electrical contacts as a result of being pressed appropriately. The plurality of keys are aligned along a second direction different from the first direction. A length in the first direction of each key is longer than a width in the second direction of the key and shorter than twice the width and carries two different key letters present on a front surface thereof at respective ends of the key. Each key establishes one electric contact if a first end of the key is pressed and establishes another electric contact if a second end of the key is pressed. The front surface of each key is parallelogram-shaped and the plurality of keys are arranged so that the key letters present on the keys are arranged in a standard arrangement.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 10, 1997
    Date of Patent: August 15, 2000
    Assignee: Fujitsu Limited
    Inventors: Hideyuki Motoyama, Seiichi Iwasa, Goro Watanabe
  • Patent number: 6102394
    Abstract: A gaming device comprises a cabinet with a hinged door, a gaming unit housed within the cabinet for playing a game, and a button panel system. The button panel system includes a printed circuit board mounted to the door and disposed inside the cabinet; a plurality of switches removably mounted to the printed circuit board; a button panel detachably mounted to the door in proximity to the printed circuit board and exposed to a player; a plurality of buttons mounted to the button panel in a preselected arrangement; and a plurality of actuators coupled to the respective buttons and disposed to actuate a group of the plurality of switches in response to pressing the respective buttons, the group of the plurality of switches cooperating with the game played by the gaming unit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 12, 1999
    Date of Patent: August 15, 2000
    Assignee: WMS Gaming, Inc.
    Inventors: Norman R. Wurz, James M. Rasmussen
  • Patent number: 6087601
    Abstract: Switch apparatus in the form of a family of like bases and interconnected housings each carrying two switch actuators and switch circuits. Conductive traces on each printed circuit board are engaged by contact elements operable by movement of each switch actuator to provide signals to connector terminals extending through the base for engagement with an external connector. The base is keyed to the external connector to accept only a specific connector in a specific base to connector orientation. The base includes key members permitting the base to be mounted in only one specific mounting position and one specific orientation in a support. 180.degree. rotation of the base permits the base to be mounted in a different mounting position with different key members. A high current contact is carried on the base and actuated by a switch actuator to operate a high current device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 3, 1999
    Date of Patent: July 11, 2000
    Assignee: Valeo Electrical Systems, Inc.
    Inventors: Caroline Callender, Karen E. Grossi
  • Patent number: 6087600
    Abstract: This keypad for the input of control commands comprises a membrane keypad, a carrier, a keypad base and a key module. The switching operation, initiated by keys, takes place in a closed unit in the form of a carrier which encloses the keypad base and the membrane keypad. The switching contacts are located within the membrane keypad which is sealed against moisture, whereby the actual performance of the switching command take place within the sealed membrane keypad, switching plungers of the keypad base having only an actuating function. The sealed unit in the form of the carrier considerably eases installation in that the keypad base and the membrane keypad can be pre-installed in the carrier at the factory the key module can be placed over them at the installation site.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 22, 1999
    Date of Patent: July 11, 2000
    Assignee: Inventio AG
    Inventors: Meinolph Kaufmann, Ernst Schwarz, Hugo Felder
  • Patent number: 6087966
    Abstract: A keyboard device, in which the rotation of a cover to a closed position is transferred to racks via pawls attached to the shaft of the cover. The force applied by the pawls forces the racks to slide in the direction E and causes cam gears to rotate in the counterclockwise direction. Cam grooves in the cam gears also move in the rotated direction of the cam gears, forcing operating pins engaged in the cam grooves to slide from a first engaging position to a second engaging position. While the operating pins slide relative to the cam grooves, sliding of a circuit board orthogonal to the direction C is corrected by the engaged condition of guide slots and guide pins. Therefore, the operating pins are pressed against the supporting shaft sides of the cam grooves and slid in the C direction, relative to the cam grooves, to the second engaging position. Accordingly, a reinforcer on which the operating pin is fixed and the circuit board are slid in the direction C.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 16, 1998
    Date of Patent: July 11, 2000
    Assignee: Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha
    Inventor: Yoshitsugu Sato
  • Patent number: 6080940
    Abstract: The present invention provides a spring integrally formed in a face plate of a housing for use with printed circuit board mounted operators having a central portion and J-shaped extensions. Stresses incurred when the central portion of the spring is pressed are distributed along the length of the extensions thus reducing maximum stress concentration in the spring. Additionally, material surrounding the spring is only minimally deflected when a spring is deflected, adjacent operators are not inadvertently actuated.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 19, 1998
    Date of Patent: June 27, 2000
    Assignee: Rockwell Technologies, LLC
    Inventor: Roy A. Rice
  • Patent number: 6073341
    Abstract: A machine method for providing a dome switch sub-assembly used for providing a keyboard-type user input to electronic devices. A spacer layer, attached to a retaining layer, having a plurality of spacer layer openings for receiving a plurality of dome switches is placed upon a moveable machine table. The dome switches, arranged in reel form, are machine removed and placed into the spacer layer openings. A removable release liner is then attached to the spacer layer. Also a complete dome switch assembly is provided. A spacer layer, attached to a circuit board, having a plurality of dome switch openings is placed on a moveable machine table. The dome switches, arranged in reel form, are machine removed and placed into the spacer layer openings. A retaining cover is attached to the spacer layer. An overlay layer, attached to the retaining cover layer, may also be provided.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 10, 1998
    Date of Patent: June 13, 2000
    Inventor: Richard A. Odorfer
  • Patent number: 6075213
    Abstract: A drive unit structure for a keyboard assembly is provided, which comprises a driven member having a flat sliding surface and pivotable about a fulcrum thereof, and an actuator disposed for sliding contact with the flat sliding surface of the driven member to pivotally drive the driven member. The fulcrum of the driven member lies in a plane including the flat sliding surface of the driven member. As a result, the operations of the actuator and driven member can be stable, to thereby enhance the accuracy of transmission of the operation of the actuator to the driven member.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 26, 1999
    Date of Patent: June 13, 2000
    Assignee: Yamaha Corporation
    Inventor: Osuga Ichiro
  • Patent number: 6066812
    Abstract: A layered structure for a keyswitch includes a lower flex circuit layer, an upper flex circuit layer and a spacer layer therebetween. A plurality of projecting flanges are arranged radially and extending from through holes formed in the spacer layer. The flanges may be placed on the lower surface of the upper layer, the upper surface of the lower layer or on the spacer. The flanges separate the spacer and the flex circuit layer such that air passages are formed between each two adjacent flanges, so that a vacuum sucking effect is substantially prevented.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 1, 1999
    Date of Patent: May 23, 2000
    Assignee: Silitek Corporation
    Inventor: Muchuan Lee
  • Patent number: 6064019
    Abstract: A switch cover includes a resilient flexible membrane having an outer surface and an opposite inner surface for mounting onto a switch plate. The flexible membrane has at least one aperture therethrough, and may have a plurality of aperture corresponding to the member of switch controls desired. Each aperture has a switch actuator button snugly journalled therethrough and mounted to the membrane so as to leave an outer portion of the button protruding above the outer surface of the membrane for tactile feedback to an operator. An inner portion of the button extends generally perpendicularly from the inner surface of the membrane for actuating engagement with a corresponding switch actuator on the switch plate.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 27, 1999
    Date of Patent: May 16, 2000
    Inventors: Brian D. Buchan, Brent A. Kornelson
  • Patent number: 6057517
    Abstract: The elastomeric keyboard incorporating a novel interconnect and back-lighting architecture of the present invention includes a printed circuit board and a novel multi-layer membrane switch matrix interconnect structure. The printed circuit board contains a control circuit for powering and controlling the back-lighting of the elastomeric keyboard. The electrical components which make up the control circuit are mounted on a top side of the printed circuit board. The multi-layer switch matrix interconnect structure contains multiple holes arranged to coincide with the components of said control circuit. The multi-layer switch matrix interconnect structure also contains a number of electrical connectors, a number of conductive contacts, and a number of electrical nets for electrically connecting the conductive contacts to each other and to the electrical connectors.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 23, 1999
    Date of Patent: May 2, 2000
    Assignee: Texas Industrial Peripherals
    Inventor: Steven H. Meyer
  • Patent number: 6057521
    Abstract: A cost-effective ergonomic shaped suspended control panel for remotely controlling machinery, such as hoists or cranes. The suspended control panel has two curved housing portions and a curved circuit card mounted in the interior of the curved housing. Keys are mounted to the front side of the circuit card and switching devices are mounted to the back side of the circuit card. An electric line, supported by a cable, is electronically connected to the circuit card, the keys and the switching devices. The control panel is easily assembled through use of plug sockets for connecting the switching devices to the circuit board. Each plug socket is mounted with spring clamps which extend through the circuit card for wiring.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 19, 1998
    Date of Patent: May 2, 2000
    Assignee: Mannesmann Aktiengesellschaft
    Inventors: Wolfgang Krebs, Gunter Somborn, Klaus-Dieter Oemus, Anton Munzebrock, Eckerhardt Grieb, Uwe Lichtenvort
  • Patent number: 6052071
    Abstract: The present invention comprises a signal generator for sending an electrical signal from an expandable, flexible layer of material, the signal generator comprising an upper layer of flexible, resilient material and a lower layer of flexible, resilient material which between them define a cavity for enclosing an expandable material such as a cellular foam or gas, whereupon localized distortion of one of the layers of flexible material, effects a signal generation within the structure, which is transmissible through a proper circuit to an outside electrical device. A circuit may be arranged adjacent a plurality of said keys which senses when several of said keys are depressed in a skewed or sideways manner, so as to effect movement of a cursor or pointer on a monitor in communication with a processing unit and said keyboard.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 19, 1997
    Date of Patent: April 18, 2000
    Inventors: Robert J. Crowley, Donald N. Halgren
  • Patent number: 6040533
    Abstract: A switch system for a vehicle seat for use while adjusting a vehicle seat, is composed essentially of an operating part and individual switch bodies. By adjusting the operating part, the position of the entire vehicle seat (relative to the interior of the vehicle) can be changed. By moving the individual switch bodies located on operating part, the positions of the respective elements of the vehicle seat are changed relative to the vehicle seat. Typical elements of the vehicle seat represented by the switch bodies are a seat cushion, a seat back, and a headrest.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 13, 1998
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2000
    Assignee: Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft
    Inventor: Peer-Oliver Wagner
  • Patent number: 6040534
    Abstract: A display/switch/electronic control assembly includes a molded three-piece assembly in which displays/switches/electronics are integrally included on a flexible circuit material sandwiched between a polymeric substrate and a cover, which may include a switching element cooperating with the flex circuit, or a display. The structure preferably is insert-molded with integrally molded sections for providing an inexpensive, reliable control and display system for use in the vehicle environment.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 1998
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2000
    Assignee: Prince Corporation
    Inventor: Jack A. Beukema
  • Patent number: 6038127
    Abstract: An apparatus for moving a member between a retracted position and an extended position includes a housing, a movement mechanism, a linear lead screw, a first carriage, and a second carriage. The housing has a curved path between the retracted position and the extended position. The lead screw has a longitudinal axis and threads. The movement mechanism is coupled to the lead screw to rotate the lead screw about the longitudinal axis. The first carriage has a connecting structure and a bore with threads that mate with the threads of the lead screw to move the carriage linearly along the longitudinal axis of the lead screw when the lead screw rotates. The second carriage is coupled to the member and has a connecting structure.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 27, 1998
    Date of Patent: March 14, 2000
    Assignee: Comarco Wireless Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Brian T. Ries
  • Patent number: 6034335
    Abstract: Analog resistance touch switches and matrix type touch switches have contacts coated with a very thin film, which in use does not form an appreciable amount of an insulating oxide, to inhibit changes in contact resistance and extend operating life.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 1, 1994
    Date of Patent: March 7, 2000
    Assignee: Dynapro Thin Films Products
    Inventors: Brian E. Aufderheide, Michael J. Robrecht
  • Patent number: 6031189
    Abstract: Disclosed is a keyboard device wherein arm portions formed at an interval are provided at one end or at the other end of the first or second lever section and wherein a connecting section for connecting the end portions of these arm portions is provided at the end of these arm portions, this connecting section being engaged with the engagement section of the support member or the key top, whereby the strength of the end portions of the arm portions increases, and the deflection of the arm portions can be reduced, so that the inclination of the key top when it is depressed decreases, thereby providing a keyboard device having a satisfactory operability.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 11, 1997
    Date of Patent: February 29, 2000
    Assignee: Alps Electric Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Kazutoshi Watanabe, Tsuyoshi Narusawa
  • Patent number: 6023033
    Abstract: A keytop plate comprises keytops (21) formed by integrally molding a molding resin part (25) with a synthetic resin film (23), and a molded elastomer sheet (molded elastomer member) (11) attached to the keytops (21). The molded elastomer sheet (11), other than in the areas to which the keytops (21) are attached, has no through-holes, whereby a water-proof property is provided. The keytops (21) are easily depressed even when the molded elastomer sheet (11) is securely held at its peripheral portion. A hard tactile feeling may be obtained when the keytops (21) are depressed, since the keytops (21) are formed from the synthetic resin film (23) and the molding resin part (25).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 1, 1997
    Date of Patent: February 8, 2000
    Assignee: Teikoku Tsushin Kogyo Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Nobuyuki Yagi, Jiro Inagaki, Tatsuya Okamura
  • Patent number: 5982304
    Abstract: A piezoelectric keyswitch for providing tactile response comprises a bimorphic piezoelectric element anchored at its edge, and a keypad mounted on the bimorphic piezoelectric element spaced from the anchored edge so that depression of the keypad flexes the element to generate an electrical signal. A drive circuit responds to the electrical signal to provide a drive signal to bend the piezoelectric element to provide upward tactile feedback to the keypad.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 24, 1997
    Date of Patent: November 9, 1999
    Assignee: International Business Machines Corporation
    Inventors: Edwin Joseph Selker, Jonathan Noble Betts
  • Patent number: 5980135
    Abstract: The present invention provides a keyboard which can take an optional metal support for strengthening its structure. It comprises a cover plate with a plurality of vertical housings, a base plate mounted on the cover plate with a plurality of protruding pads installed under the vertical housings of the cover plate, a plurality of keys that are vertically and movably installed within the vertical housings, a membrane installed between the cover plate and the base plate comprising a plurality of switches. When any key is depressed, the underlying switch is pressed between the plunger of the key and the underlying protruding pad, and generates a corresponding sensing signal. The keyboard may also comprise a metal support installed between the cover plate and the base plate for increasing structural strength.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 22, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 9, 1999
    Assignee: Acer Peripherals, Inc.
    Inventor: Chao Shih-Hung
  • Patent number: 5977888
    Abstract: A touch panel (4) and an operation part (30) are provided on display means (2). A permanent magnet (52) is mounted on a push button (32), and a magnetic metal plate (58) is mounted on a support frame (36). When the push button (32) starts to be pushed down toward the touch panel (4), the push button (32) moves toward the touch panel (4) against magnetic attractive force of the permanent magnet (52) and the magnetic metal plate (58), and an operation forward end part (46) operates a touch switch (4a). Stroke feeling results from this movement. Further, the aforementioned magnetic attractive force abruptly reduces in an initial period of this movement, and an operator of the push button (32) can attain click feeling. Since the stroke feeling and the click feeling are caused in the operation of the push button (32), operability is improved while making the best use of such an advantage that the touch panel (4) is of a thin type.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 26, 1996
    Date of Patent: November 2, 1999
    Assignee: Idec Izumi Corporation
    Inventors: Toshihiro Fujita, Akito Okamoto, Yoshitaka Tsuji
  • Patent number: 5969320
    Abstract: A keyboard includes a keyboard membrane where the membrane comprises a top layer, a spacer layer and a bottom layer. The spacer layer has interconnecting voids that are connected to the atmosphere by a common vent. A patch made of a hydrophobic material prevents water entering the keyboard membrane via the vent, but allows the air pressure inside the voids to remain balanced with the atmospheric air pressure.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 10, 1998
    Date of Patent: October 19, 1999
    Assignee: NCR Corporation
    Inventors: Kevin G. Leeper, Kenneth Kelly
  • Patent number: 5952629
    Abstract: A switch apparatus has a fixed contact including a contact pattern formed on a printed substrate and a movable contact provided above and opposing the fixed contact. A switching operation is performed by engaging the movable contact with the fixed contact. The fixed contact pattern has a first pair of fixed contacts and a second pair of fixed contacts. The fixed contact patterns are separated by a predetermined distance from one another. The movable contact has a first movable contact and a second movable contact for engagement with the first and the second pairs of fixed contacts, respectively. One of the first pair of fixed contacts and one of the second pair of fixed contacts are formed in a unit to define a common pattern. Only the common pattern is disposed between the other of the first pair of fixed contacts and the other of the second pair of fixed contacts.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 13, 1995
    Date of Patent: September 14, 1999
    Assignee: Yamaha Corporation
    Inventors: Kenichi Yoshinaga, Takamichi Masubuchi
  • Patent number: 5945646
    Abstract: A multi-switch control device is useful for controlling a variety of functions on a variety of vehicle subsystems or peripheral devices. The control device includes a specifically contoured base portion that enhances the usability of the device without distracting the vehicle operator from the task of driving. In one embodiment, a plurality of grooves are provided for receiving the fingers of the user of the device and a switch is provided within each groove that is readily usable by an individual regardless of the specific size of their fingers. Another embodiment includes a plurality of raised beads or grooves that provide a tactile indication of the position of the user's fingers on the device. The contoured portions also provide the ability of the user to make adjustments to a selected vehicle subsystem through conventional "touch-pad" technology.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 4, 1997
    Date of Patent: August 31, 1999
    Assignee: Lear Automotive Dearborn, Inc.
    Inventors: Robin Mihekun Miller, Jerome Go Ng, Hollister A. Hartman
  • Patent number: 5934454
    Abstract: A keyboard apparatus is provided for small and lightweight computers and the like. Keyswitches and a keyboard assembly comprise a sheet member having a plurality of key faces fixed thereon in a conventional keyboard arrangement. A plurality of cutouts are provided in the sheet member, partially surrounding each key face. Two living hinge members are provided in the sheet member, preferably at opposite sides of the cutout. Each living hinge member includes a base section, an intermediate section, and a key face section. The former two and the latter two sections each interface at a living hinge. Depressing the key face causes the key face sections of each of the hinge members to pivot about the living hinges to operate a corresponding set of electrical contacts, indicating operation of the key. The multiple hinge members provide stability to the downward motion of the key face, providing goood functionality and tactile feel.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 10, 1997
    Date of Patent: August 10, 1999
    Assignee: International Business Machines Corporation
    Inventors: Winslow Scott Burleson, Christopher Eisbach
  • Patent number: 5936554
    Abstract: An interactively illuminating computer input device for a computer is disclosed. In one embodiment the device is a keyboard. The keyboard has a bi-directional communication link between the keyboard and the computer. The keyboard also has one or more keys, each capable of illumination. The keyboard also has a keyboard controller, operably coupled to the bi-directional communication link and the keys. The keyboard controller detects depression of a key on the keyboard by the user of the computer. The keyboard controller also controls the illumination of a key on the keyboard by the computer. In one embodiment, the keyboard controller receives from the computer a unique command for each key to illuminate the key. In a further embodiment, the keyboard controller receives from the computer a unique command for each key to dim the key.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 1, 1996
    Date of Patent: August 10, 1999
    Assignee: Gateway 2000, Inc.
    Inventor: James B. Stanek
  • Patent number: 5933671
    Abstract: A touch sensitive electronic switch for a camera comprises a pair of front and rear cover parts of the camera that constitute separate electrical conductors which when temporarily bridged by one's hand allow a direct current path between the front and rear cover parts, and an insulator configured to fill a space between the front and rear cover parts in order that the front and rear cover parts and the insulator together define a housing for the camera.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 7, 1998
    Date of Patent: August 3, 1999
    Assignee: Eastman Kodak Company
    Inventors: Thomas M. Stephany, Kenneth M. Haas
  • Patent number: 5929401
    Abstract: A keypad is disclosed having a rigid plate with openings. A flexible sheet of the keypad has keys which protrude through the openings of the rigid plate. The keypad further includes a rigid insertion plate and a flexible contact sheet with dome-shaped contacts configured to contact the keys. The rigid plate and the rigid insertion plate have a curved shape, where the flexible sheet and the flexible contact sheet are located between the rigid plate and the rigid insertion plate to conform to the curved shape. The curved shape is concave along a longitudinal axis of the keypad and convex along the keypad transversal axis. Further, the top surfaces of the keys protruding from the openings are contoured to conform to the curved shape.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 19, 1998
    Date of Patent: July 27, 1999
    Assignee: U.S. Philips Corporation
    Inventors: Arnaud Flegeo, Michael Savage
  • Patent number: 5924553
    Abstract: A keyswitch assembly suitable for being disposed on a computer keyboard that can prevent wobbling of its key cap when the key cap is at its elevated position. The keyswitch comprises a key cap capable of being urged to move between an elevated position and a pressed down position; a first connecting member connected to the cap and the substrate; a second connecting member connected to the cap and the substrate; and an elastic member disposed between the substrate and the key cap in such a way that it always urges the cap toward its first position. A positioning slot and a positioning pin or a guide slot and a protrusion formed on one connecting member are provided for keeping the cap from wobbling at its elevated position.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 1998
    Date of Patent: July 20, 1999
    Assignee: Acer Peripherals, Inc.
    Inventor: Ghi Pin Yeh
  • Patent number: 5921382
    Abstract: A magnetically enhanced membrane switch operator is constructed with a rigid ferromagnetic base plate. This base plate is spaced from a rigid ferromagnetic cover plate, which has an opening through it. A resilient flexible membrane sheet is suspended between the base plate and the cover plate, and is located in close proximity to the cover plate. The sheet carries a circular magnetic disk which, in the rest condition operation of the switch operator, is adhered by magnetic attraction to the cover plate. To operate the switch, sufficient force to overcome the magnetic attraction between the magnet and the cover plate, along with the force required to distort the resilient membrane sheet, is used to move the sheet toward the base plate. When the membrane sheet is moved into close proximity to the base plate, magnetic attraction between the base plate and the magnet facilitates closure of the switch at the end of its travel.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 30, 1998
    Date of Patent: July 13, 1999
    Assignee: DataHand Systems, Inc
    Inventor: Dale Retter
  • Patent number: 5923007
    Abstract: A switch assembly (100) includes a first switch (102), a second switch (104) and a third switch (106). The switch assembly further includes a rocker actuator (108) having a first rocker arm (152) and a second rocker arm (154) and a selector actuator (110). The rocker actuator pivots about a post (158) to actuate the first switch or the second switch. The selector actuator is disposed between the first switch and the second switch to slidingly actuate the third switch. In one application, a radiotelephone (800, 904) includes a switch assembly (840). A controller (914) responds to actuations of the rocker actuator and the selector actuator to control storage of data in a memory (926) and display of data in the display (818, 918).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 15, 1997
    Date of Patent: July 13, 1999
    Assignee: Motorola, Inc.
    Inventor: Steven C. Emmert
  • Patent number: 5917437
    Abstract: A keyboard according to the present invention, which includes one or more keys and corresponding electromechanical converting elements, is characterized in that it includes a film construction (42) which includes an electret film with a bubble construction known as EMF by which said electromechanical converting elements corresponding to the keys are formed, and a solid, stiff cover plate (43) which covers the EMF construction (42) and in which an area (A-D) in the vicinity of each electromechanical converting element forms a key. In one embodiment of the present invention, a frame of the keyboard forms the cover plate and the EMF construction affixed behind the cover plate is covered with a sufficiently thick and stiff layer of plastic. The cover plate may be steel or aluminum, for example, and other materials such as plastic, glass or ceramic materials can be used. The thickness of the cover plate may be approximately 2 mm, for example.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 21, 1997
    Date of Patent: June 29, 1999
    Assignee: Screentec Ky
    Inventors: Jukka Ojala, Lasse Raisanen
  • Patent number: 5914468
    Abstract: A keyboard unit having a base plate, and a plurality of key switches provided on the base plate. Each of the key switches has an electric contact provided within a membrane sheet on the base plate, an elastic dome portion formed on the base plate so as to cover the electric contact, a bearing portion provided on base plate, and a key cap having a support shaft which engages the bearing portion, and an engaging portion which engages the dome portion. When the key cap is depressed, the dome portion is elastically deformed so that an inner surface of the dome portion presses against the electric contact, and when the key cap is not depressed, deformation of the dome portion is removed so that the inner surface of the dome portion is separated from the electric contact and the key cap is pushed up by the dome portion.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 19, 1997
    Date of Patent: June 22, 1999
    Assignee: Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd.
    Inventors: Takashi Nishimura, Toshimi Chiba, Sadao Tachibana, Zenzo Tozuka, Yuichiro Nozawa
  • Patent number: 5912443
    Abstract: In a keyboard which drives membrane switches by selectively depressing key tops, hinge portions are formed integrally with a housing in an array of hinge receiving holes made therein in correspondence with a desired array of key tops, a top panel having openings corresponding to the hinge receiving holes is bonded to the top of the housing and the key tops are each disposed to cover the corresponding opening and the entire length of the corresponding hinge portion and is fixedly engaged with the free end of the hinge portion through the opening. By the application of pressure to and its removal from each key top, the lower end of the free end of the corresponding hinge portion operates to make and break the underlying membrane switch.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 6, 1998
    Date of Patent: June 15, 1999
    Assignee: Hosiden Corporation
    Inventor: Seigo Hasunuma
  • Patent number: 5905235
    Abstract: A key assembly (10) comprises a depressible key (16) having a depending projection (22), a pair of electrical terminals (36), and a domed contact membrane (30) snappable between two positions for making and breaking electrical connection between the electrical terminals. The depression of the key (16) causes the projection (22) to urge the contact membrane (30) to snap from a first natural-bias position (FIG. 2(a)) in which the electrical terminals are not electrically connected to a second distorted position (FIG. 2(b)) in which the electrical terminals are connected. The projection comprises an annular flange confronting the contact membrane and laterally spaced apart from the apex (33) of the dome (32).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 17, 1997
    Date of Patent: May 18, 1999
    Assignee: Nokia Mobile Phones, Ltd.
    Inventor: Neil Charman
  • Patent number: RE36349
    Abstract: A tilting member has a force bearing portion to which operating force is applied, and a supported surface. A supporting member has a supporting projection with which the supported surface of the tilting member may come in contact. When the operating force is applied to the tilting member, the tilting member tilts with respect to the supporting member. The supporting member supports the tilting member at a supporting point where the supporting projection of the supporting member is in contact with the supported surface of the tilting member, about which supporting point the tilting member tilts. The tilting of the tilting member, with respect to the supporting member, establishes a predetermined electrical contact.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 10, 1998
    Date of Patent: October 26, 1999
    Assignee: Sega Enterprises
    Inventors: Hiroshi Matsumiya, Takeki Sugiyama
  • Patent number: RE36738
    Abstract: A tilting member has a force bearing portion to which operating force is applied, and a supported surface. A supporting member has a supporting projection with which the supported surface of the tilting member may come in contact. When the operating force is applied to the tilting member, the tilting member tilts with respect to the supporting member. The supporting member supports the tilting member at a supporting point where the supporting projection of the supporting member is in contact with the supported surface of the tilting member, about which supporting point the tilting member tilts. The tilting of the tilting member, with respect to the supporting member, establishes a predetermined electrical contact.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 3, 1997
    Date of Patent: June 20, 2000
    Assignee: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
    Inventors: Hiroshi Matsumiya, Takeki Sugiyama