News Column

"Apparatuses, Systems, and Methods for Detecting and Reacting to Exposure of an Electronic Device to Moisture" in Patent Application Approval Process

July 31, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventors Stevens, Blake (Morristown, NJ); Sorenson, Max (Cottonwood Heights, UT), filed on January 8, 2014, was made available online on July 17, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application is assigned to HzO, Inc.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The durability of electronic devices is a major concern to consumers. Protective cases for cellular telephones, tablet computers, portable media players, laptop computers, and other electronic devices are in high demand. Most of these cases provide protection from scratches and other physical damage; very few cases provide protection against water damage. Protective cases that provide protection against water damage do so by ensuring that the electronic device is not exposed to water, and generally encase or envelop the entire electronic device. As a result, waterproof cases tend to be somewhat bulky or large and limit access to the electronic device.

"Some companies, such as HzO, Inc., take a different approach to protecting electronic devices from water. HzO's approach employs the application of a thin film, or protective coating, to circuitry and/or components inside of an electronic device. This protective coating protects the electronic device from water and other types of moisture without requiring a bulky external protective case. The moisture-resistant coatings that have been developed by HzO protect electronic devices from a variety of different types of incidental or accidental exposure to moisture, including high humidity, rain, spilled drinks, the washing machine or even if the device is dropped in water.

"While protective coatings like those developed by HzO may protect the interior of an electronic device, the ports of the electronic device, including ports that enable charging of the battery of the electronic device and/or enable the electronic device to electrically couple to and/or communicate with other devices (e.g., computers, peripheral devices, etc.) are typically still exposed to moisture, as it is necessary to establish electrical contact with the electrically conductive features (e.g., pins, leads, other electrical contacts, etc.) of the ports for the ports to serve their intended use(s).

"Being able to determine whether the ports or other electrical contacts of an electronic device are exposed to moisture may allow for greater protection of the electronic device. While certain electronic devices on the market contain moisture sensors, many of these sensors are one-time use sensors that irreversibly react to the presence of moisture. For example, a portable consumer electronic device may include one or more internal water damage sensors, which are often embodied as stickers, that enable a service technician to determine whether the device has been exposed to moisture and, thus, whether the product warranty for the device has been voided. The sensor does not, however, terminate operation of any portion of the electronic device upon exposure of the electronic device to moisture, communicate with the electronic device or provide an individual who uses with electronic device with a warning or other indicator that the electronic device has been exposed to moisture. Nor can the sensor be reset after exposure to moisture."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "An electronic device according to this disclosure includes a sensor that can report when a port or another electrical contact of the electronic device has been exposed to electrically conductive moisture, or liquid. A moisture detector may communicate with a moisture detection circuit that includes the port or another set of electrical contacts. The moisture detector may include a monitor module and a sensor module.

"The monitor module may be configured to monitor one or more properties of the moisture detection circuit (e.g., electrical properties, mechanical properties, optical properties, magnetic effects, etc.). In a specific embodiment, the monitor module may be configured to maintain a voltage on a first electrical contact and to detect a short circuit of the first electrical contact to a second electrical contact. The moisture detection circuit (e.g., the port or other electrical contacts thereof) may comprise a first node with a first voltage and a second node with a second voltage, which is different from the first voltage.

"The moisture detector may also include a sensor module configured to determine that the moisture detection circuit is exposed to an electrically conductive liquid in response to the properties of the moisture detection circuit corresponding to reference properties characteristic of exposure to an electrically conductive liquid. Continuing with the specific embodiment provided above, in which the monitor module may detect a short circuit, the sensor module may be configured, in response to the monitor module detecting the short circuit, to determine that the port or other group of electrical contacts has been exposed to an electrically conductive liquid.

"Further disclosed is a method for determining exposure of a port or other electrical contacts to an electrically conductive liquid. The method may include providing a first voltage at a first electrical contact of a plurality of electrical contacts (e.g., a first contact of a port, etc.) of an electronic device while the port is in an unconnected state. The method may also include monitoring electrical activity at one or more of the electrical contacts while the port is in the unconnected state. In addition, the method may include sensing an electrical activity pattern at one or more of the electrical contacts, which electrical activity pattern is characteristic of a short circuit caused by an electrically conductive liquid. The method may further include determining exposure to an electrically conductive liquid in response to sensing an electrical activity pattern characteristic of a short circuit caused by the electrically conductive liquid.

"Other aspects, as well as the features and advantages of various aspects, of the disclosed subject matter will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art through consideration of the ensuing description, the accompanying figures, and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"In the drawings:

"FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of an embodiment of an electronic device including a moisture detector;

"FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of an embodiment of an electronic device including a moisture detector and a port configured to enable communication with another electronic device;

"FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of a moisture detection circuit that includes a port of an electronic device;

"FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a moisture detector;

"FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a computing system including a moisture detector and a port controller;

"FIG. 6 is a circuit schematic illustrating an embodiment of a moisture detection circuit;

"FIG. 7 is a flow chart illustrating an embodiment of a method for creating an exposure model; and

"FIG. 8 is a flow chart illustrating an embodiment of a method for detecting exposure of a port or another group of electrical contacts to an electrically conductive liquid."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: Stevens, Blake; Sorenson, Max. Apparatuses, Systems, and Methods for Detecting and Reacting to Exposure of an Electronic Device to Moisture. Filed January 8, 2014 and posted July 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=4309&p=87&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140710.PD.&OS=PD/20140710&RS=PD/20140710

Keywords for this news article include: HzO, HzO Inc.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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