The patent's assignee for patent number 8525058 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Users can provide inputs to electronic devices using many different approaches. For example, an electronic device can include different input interfaces by which a user can interact with the device. The input interfaces can include, for example, one or more switches, buttons, actuators, or sensors (e.g., touch sensors), the actuation of which the device can detect. In some cases, an electronic device can include a dome switch, which can be depressed to provide a detectable input. The dome switch is typically constructed by placing a conductive dome over a contact pad on a circuit board. When the dome is pressed, the dome can invert such that an inner surface of the dome contacts the contact pad. The dome inversion also provides a tactile `click` that enhances the user's interaction with the switch. To actuate the dome switch, a user typically presses a cosmetic piece placed over the dome. In response to the user pressing the cosmetic piece, the dome is in turn is depressed and comes into contact with the contact point.
"A dome switch can enclose a volume of air between the inner surface of the dome and the circuit board to which the dome is mounted. When the dome is depressed, the air within the enclosed volume may need to be displaced so that the center of the dome can contact the circuit board contact pad. To displace the air, a coversheet placed over the dome can include openings connecting the interior volume to the environment in which the dome switch is placed. When the dome is collapsed to close a circuit, air can be expelled from the internal volume through the openings, and remove an air pressure resistance to the dome movement. Air can re-enter the internal volume through the openings when the dome reverts to its initial position.
"The openings in the dome coversheet, however, can provide a path for debris, water, or other external particles to enter the internal volume of the dome switch. If a conductive particle infiltrates the internal volume, the particle can cause corrosion or promote the formation of substances that prevent the proper operation of the switch. For example, particles can cause rust, oxidation, dendrite growth, or salt, sugar or chemical deposits. As another example, water can infiltrate the internal volume of the dome switch and short the switch."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A dome switch that includes a remote venting mechanism is provided. In particular, a dome switch can include a channel through which air can be vented out of the dome switch while preventing debris from migrating to underneath the dome.
"A dome switch can enclose a volume of air between a dome and a flex circuit. The volume of air can be expelled from the volume when depressed to provide a responsive tactile effect. To prevent contaminants from entering the volume enclosed by the dome when the dome is actuated, the location and size of an opening connecting the volume within the dome to the dome environment can be selected such that the opening is away from the dome itself. In some embodiments, the dome switch can include a channel or tubular structure extending from the dome region and having an opening away from the dome through which air can flow.
"The channel can be constructed as part of components of the dome switch. For example, the channel can be defined in a spacer positioned between a flex circuit and a film layer of the dome switch (e.g., a film covering the dome to retain the dome to the circuit board), where the spacer defines the channel sides. The distal end of the channel (e.g., the end away from the dome) can have an opening for venting air, which can be defined in any suitable component of the dome switch including, for example, in one or more of the circuit board, spacer, or film.
"In some embodiments, a protective film can be placed over an opening of a dome switch. The protective film can include holes large enough to allow air to pass, but small enough to prevent contaminants (e.g., liquids or debris) from passing through the protective film. In some embodiments, the protective film can include a treatment or coating to enhance the film's ability to repel contaminants. For example, the protective film can include a hydrophobic coating."
For additional information on this patent, see: Hill, Matthew; Zadesky, Stephen; Wang, Erik; Mittleman, Adam. Snorkel for Venting a Dome Switch. U.S. Patent Number 8525058, filed
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