Patent number 8742275 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Keys of computing devices typically include switches used to provide input to a processor of the electronic devices. For example, keys are used to activate the switches of a computer keyboard. The keys typically include a symbol, such as a letter, a number, or a combination of these, which indicates the function or association of the switch that is activated by that particular key. For example, on a keyboard, when the key marked with the letter 'a' is depressed, the switch associated with the 'a' key is actuated. Many keyboards also include a row of functions keys, such as 'F1' through 'F12.' Typically the function keys are located above the main keys (i.e. the QWERTY keys) of the keyboard. Often times function keys initiate predetermined processes. For example, when the keyboard is in communication with a word processor or a computer that is running word processing software, the depression of an 'F5' key and the associated actuation of the 'F5' switch may initiate a 'Find-and-Replace' function for the document.
"Some keyboards include individual keys that are supported by an underlying structure. For example, sometimes a scissor mechanism is used to support the keycap (i.e. the portion of the key visible to a user) of the key. The scissor mechanisms can include a pair or arms that are pivotally coupled to each other. The scissor mechanisms can help prevent the keycaps from rocking or tilting. The scissor mechanisms are configured to remain in an expanded configuration when the keycap is not being depressed by a user and are configured to assume a contracted configuration when the keycap is depressed by a user.
"The structures that underlie keycaps offer a tactile response (i.e. a snappy feel) that gives feedback to users as they type. These structures, however, can take up space. Specifically, the underlying structures can add to the thickness of an input device, such as a keyboard. Furthermore, special keys, like the function keys, often make the keyboard appear crowded and increase the footprint of the computing device."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "According to one general aspect of the invention, an input device includes a collapsible structure used to complete a circuit and a sheet of material disposed above the collapsible structure. The sheet of material includes an attached edge affixed to a housing of the input device, creating a pivot point. The sheet of material also includes a front edge opposite the attached edge, a left edge, and a right edge opposite the left edge. The sheet of material has a width extending from the left edge to the right edge and a height extending from the front edge to the pivot point. The sheet also includes a first opening formed proximate the attached edge. The collapsible structure is disposed below a portion of the sheet of material located between the front edge and the midpoint of the height of the sheet and approximately centered between the left edge and the right edge.
"According to another general aspect of the invention, an input device includes two or more keys. Each key comprises a collapsible switch and a spring disposed above the collapsible switch. The spring includes a back edge affixed to a housing of the input device, creating a pivot point. The spring also includes a front edge opposite the back edge, a left edge, a right edge opposite the left edge, and a height extending from the back edge to the front edge. The spring also includes a first opening formed proximate the back edge. Each spring has an associated collapsible switch. A portion of a bottom surface of the spring contacts the collapsible switch, the portion of the bottom surface being at a location between the front edge of the spring and a midpoint of the height of the spring and approximately centered between the left edge and the right edge. The springs are unitarily formed from a sheet of material, each spring being separated from adjoining springs by a gap formed in the material so that the springs are joined at the back edge.
"According to another general aspect of the invention, an input device includes two or more keys. Each key of the input device includes a collapsible dome, a keycap, and a spring attached to a housing of the input device on a first end. The spring also includes a second end opposite the first end, a first opening located proximate the first end, and a second opening located proximate the second end and is configured to bend around the first end at a pivot point when a user applies pressure to a top surface of the keycap. The keycap is disposed above the second opening and a portion of a bottom surface of the keycap contacts the collapsible dome when pressure is applied to the keycap. The pressure causes the dome to collapse, sending an input to a processor of a computing device. The springs are unitarily formed from a sheet of material and each spring is separated from adjoining springs by a gap formed in the material so that the springs are joined at the first end.
"The details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Lam, Lawrence; Loo,
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