Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

A material that is compliant like the conductive foam positioned in the dielectric or capacitive gap between electrodes for sense and drive, and/or other elements that conduct electricity in a capacitive and/or other force sensor, for instance a TFT or other display component and sensor assembly. The compliant material protects the sensor from injury by preventing or cushioning contact. Compliant materials may be electrically conductive. The compliant material can be conductive, and placed between the electrodes. However, it may also be separated from one or more electrodes. This reduces the effective electrical distance between them. The force sensor therefore is more sensitive than it could be, but less susceptible to being damaged.

Electronic devices are becoming more widespread. Electronic devices may make use of many different components to receive input. They can be input devices such as keyboards as well as computer mice.

Electronic devices are getting more mobile. The range of input devices that can be employed in electronic devices is restricted by their the portability. This could make it difficult for input devices to detect various input types and improve performance, sensitiveness, etc.

This disclosure is about a compliant material that protects the capacitive force sensor and improves the sensitivity of capacitive sensors. Compliant materials such as a conductive foam, may be placed in the dielectric gap between the electrodes for drive and sense and/or other conductive elements of a capacitive and/or other force sensor, like TFTs or any other display elements and a sensor assembly. The compliant material can help protect against damage by preventing or cushioning contact. Compliant materials can also be conductors. The compliant material could be conductive and placed between electrodes. But, it might remain separate from any electrode. This may reduce the distance of electrical contact between them. This means that the force sensor could be more sensitive than otherwise be the case while remaining less vulnerable to damage.

An electronic device may include an enclosure, display, which is attached to the housing and capable of receiving a force , and further configured to react to the force; a sensing sensor, which is positioned inside the housing and is capacitively connected to the display via an air gap between the sense electrode and the display; an processing module that could be utilized to determine the force amount based on the variation in capacitance betweenthe display and the sense electrode as well as a material that is conductive. The conductive material is placed within the housing, in the air gap between the display and the sensing electrode.

In certain cases the display can be adapted to touch the conductive compatible material during deformation. Some examples demonstrate that the display is not able to contact the conductive material during deformation.

In several instances, the conductive compliant material is connected to at least one of the display and the sense electrode. Some electronic devices come with the midplate which is attached to the housing between sense electrode and display. In this instance the conductive material is linked to the midplate. The conductive adhesive serves to attach the conductive compliant material to the sense electrode in a variety of ways. In several instances the electronic device further includes an insulating layer that covers the conductive compliant material.

An electronic device may include the cover and a force sensor capable of measuring the force applied to the cover, which alters the capacitive gap and an LCD component that is coupled to the cover. Sensor assemblies are attached to a substrate over the air gap. The sensor sensor also contains a compliant material in the air gap. The compliant material includes an electrically conductive component, which reduces an effective electrical distance of the capacitive gap andprevents damage to the force sensor by absorbing at least a portion of the force.

The compliant material may be divided into a conductor and nonconductive section. In certain instances the compliant material consists of a first conductive material connected to a sensing electrode of the force sensor and asecond conductive material that functions as an electrode for shielding. In various implementations of such examples the compliant material contains an insulating layer that separates the first conductive material and the second conductive material.

In certain instances the compliant material is at least one of a conductive foam, a silicone gasket or air loop gasket, fabric or a electrically conductive adhesive. The material is compressed in many different ways. In many instances the material is compliant and has a thickness of around 250-950 microns.

An electronic device can be described in many ways. It comprises a housing and a drive electrode that deforms when there is a force applied to it; a sense electrode that detects the change in capacitance when the drive electrode deforms; a gap between the sense electrode and the drive electrode; and a conductive material. The electrically conductive material is placed in the gap and is electrically connected to the sense electrode the conductive compliant material separatedfrom the drive electrode in the absence of the force and contacted by the drive electrode when the force is applied.

In certain instances the sense electrode could be connected resistively to the compliant materials that are conductive. In other cases the sense electrode is capacitively coupled to the conductive compliant materials.

In various instances, the electronic device further includes a shield electrode capacitively coupled to the conductive compliant material. Some implementations of these examples contain a nonconductive material that separates the shield electrode from the compliant. This nonconductive material can be utilized in various examples to separate the sensing electrode from the conductive compliant.

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