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1. WO2020192902 - PORTABLE COMMUNICATION OBJECT AND CHARGER

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

PORTABLE COMMUNICATION OBJECT AND CHARGER TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a portable communication object as well as to a charger for such a portable communication object.

BACKGROUND

Sensors and wireless communication units are becoming more and more interesting to use in a number of fields such as Internet of Things (IoT). Objects with sensor are of interest in a number of fields, such as in hospitals and different fields of industry. However, they are also of interest for recreational purposes, such as in toys and games.

In some of these environments the device or object with the sensor may be subject to external forces and environments. A toy in the form of a ball may for instance be thrown at surfaces, thereby experiencing a force when hitting such a wall. This may have an impact on the sensor readings in that they may become incorrect. It may because of this be of interest to embed the sensor in the object so that the influence of the forces on the sensor readings are limited.

Also antenna placing and electrical charging of such an object may be an issue.

These aspects may be important. It may at the same time be important that the behaviour of the object when under influence of the force is retained. A ball may as an example need to have a certain“bounce” that should be retained while at the same time addressing the above-mentioned issues. This and other aspects are addressed by the present invention.

SUMMARY

The present invention addresses one or more of the above-mentioned problems.

One aspect of the invention is concerned with a portable communication object comprising a stiff core centred around an object centre point, elements encapsulated by the stiff core and an elastic material layer surrounding the stiff core, where the encapsulated elements comprise circuitry with sensor and wireless communication functionality.

The portable communication object has a number of advantages. It retains a desired reaction or behaviour to experienced physical forces combined with transmission of sensor readings of an acceptable sensor reading quality. Through the use of a stiff core encapsulating the circuitry with sensor functionality being surrounded by an elastic material layer in the above described way, the sensor is kept centrally located in the portable

communication object and fixed within the core. The encapsulation also improves the durability of the object.

The wireless communication functionality may be short-range

communication functionality, such as Bluetooth Low Energy. The portable communication object may be configured to experience external physical forces. The elastic material layer may be a plastic or rubber material layer, for instance in the form of a foam.

The stiff core may stretch from the object centre point to a distance at a radius from the object centre point and the elastic material layer may stretch between a first inner radius coinciding with the core radius and a second outer radius from the object centre point.

The second outer radius may as an example be in the range 1 - 1. 5 times higher than the first inner radius and preferably 1. 3 times higher than the first inner radius.

The stiff core with enclosed element may also have a point of inertia that coincides with the object centre point. The stiff core may be made of epoxy resm.

The elastic material layer may be polyurethane. The elastic material may additionally have a shore C hardness of 60 C - 70 C.

The encapsulated elements may comprise a circuit board on which the circuitry is placed. The circuit board may also have a board centre point. An axis may furthermore be defined perpendicular to the board and through the board centre point. The circuit board may additionally have an antenna stretching along at least a part of the perimeter of the circuit board. The antenna may stretch along more than half of the perimeter.

The stiff core may furthermore comprise cut-outs, which cut-outs may be provided adjacent the antenna and aligned with the antenna. They may also be placed symmetrically around the axis.

The enclosed elements may furthermore comprise a power source for powering the circuitry, for instance in the form of a battery. The circuitry and antenna may be provided on one side of the circuit board and the power source may be placed on an opposite side of the circuit board. The antenna may be placed further away in a circuit board plane from the board centre point than any point of the power source. The antenna may more particularly be placed further away from the above-mentioned axis than any point of the power source. The distance between the antenna and the axis may thus be higher than any distance between the power source and the axis.

The portable communication object may additionally comprise a first charging connector at or in the stiff core and an opening for mating a second charging connector of a charger, where the opening stretches through the elastic material layer to the first charging connector.

The first charging connector may be placed at the surface of the stiff core and connected to the power source via wiring stretching from the first charging connector to the circuit board. As an alternative the first charging connector may be placed on the circuit board and the opening may stretch from the surface of the object to the circuit board. The first charging connector may be centred around an axis defined through the object centre point and stretching between the object centre point and object surface, which axis may be a normal of and pass through the board centre point.

Another aspect is directed towards a charger for a portable communication object according to the first aspect that comprises the first charging connector in the opening. The charger comprises a second charging connector, a charger adapter and a stiff rod interconnecting the second charging connector with the charger adapter. The stiff rod is shaped to be inserted in and fit in the opening stretching from the surface of the portable communication object to the first charging connector and for allowing mating of the first and second charging connectors with each other.

Generally, all terms used in the claims are to be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning in the technical field, unless explicitly defined otherwise herein. All references to "a/an/the element, apparatus, component, etc." are to be interpreted openly as referring to at least one instance of the element, apparatus, component etc., unless explicitly stated otherwise.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is now described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig 1 schematically shows a portable communication object shaped as a ball, Fig. 2 shows an exploded view of some of the parts of the ball including elements encapsulated in a stiff core and surrounded by an elastic material layer,

Fig. 3 schematically shows such enclosed elements in the form of a circuit board with an antenna and circuitry on the circuit board,

Fig. 4 schematically shows a first realization of the ball with a charger for charging a power source in the ball, and

Fig. 5 schematically shows a second realization of the ball and charger for charging the power source.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which certain embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided by way of example so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout the description.

Fig l schematically shows a portable communication object to, which is an object configured to experience external physical forces, for instance in the form of mechanical forces. The object to may be a playing object, such as a toy or gaming object and may additionally have a spherical shape, although other shapes are envisaged such as a prolate spheroid shape. In the example given here it is a ball. The ball shown in fig. 1 has a stiff or rigid core 14 surrounded by an elastic material layer 12, which may be a plastic or rubber layer. It can more particularly be seen that the core 14 stretches from an object centre point OCP to a distance at a core a radius Rc from the object centre point OCP and the elastic material layer 12 stretches from a first inner radius Ri coinciding with the core radius Rc to a second outer radius Ro from the object centre point OCP. The stiff core 14 may thereby be essentially shaped as a sphere having the core radius Rc and surrounded by the elastic material layer 12 essentially shaped as a hollow elastic sphere, i.e. a sphere with a spherically shaped cavity in its centre, where the cavity is defined by the first inner radius Ri and the elastic material sphere is defined by the second outer radius Ro.

Through the introduction of Internet connectivity via WiFi hotspots or via Mobile Communication networks it has become of interest to equip the portable object with one or more sensors, such as accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes and position sensors and conveying senor readings to computers via the Internet. Such sensors may be used in a variety of areas such as for providing the sensor input to computer games. However, sensor inputs may be of interest also for other reasons, like monitoring in a hospital or in an industrial environment.

A portable object like a ball can additionally be used for recreational purposes such as for playing games, such as bouncing the ball at different surfaces. When this happens the object experiences physical forces. These physical forces may be desirable and may additionally be present in the other environments described above.

There is a problem in that when a portable object is influenced by such physical forces, also the sensors may be influenced. The physical forces affecting the ball may also affect the sensor readings, which may thereby become inaccurate. This may be undesirable.

Another problem is the problem of communication. It may be desirable to use wireless communication in order to avoid the use of cords and cables. In this respect it is possible to use mobile communication. However, this may in some cases be consuming too much energy. At times short-range

communication, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) maybe preferred,.

The object may thus be a portable communication object comprising circuitry with sensor and wireless communication functionality, with advantage short-range communication functionality.

However, if the portable communication object is designed in such a way that the forces on the sensors have a limited influence on the sensor readings, it is possible that the communication capabilities of the object may be negatively influenced.

Another problem that may exist is related to energy. In order to operate the circuitry, the object may need a power source such as a battery. However, in order to prolong the useful life of the object it may be of interest to be able to charge the power source. The way that this charging is realized may also face difficulties because of the design of the object. It may be hard to combine one or more of these functions. It may thus be hard to combine the capability of charging the power source with the obtaining of a desired reaction of the object on the physical forces that it experiences and sensor readings of acceptable quality. The difficulty may thus lie in the fact that charging is to be obtained while at the same time designing the object for allowing the sensor to handle physical forces in an acceptable way while reacting on the physical forces in a desirable manner.

Fig. 2 shows a perspective exploded view of the portable communication object 10. The object 10 comprises a stiff or solid core 14 that encapsulates a number of elements, which elements in the example of fig. 2 comprise a circuit board 16 and a power source 18 in the form of a battery. On the circuit board 16 there is provided the above-mentioned circuitry comprising sensor and short-range communication functionality (not shown). The circuitry may in this case be provided on one side of the circuit board 16, while the power source 18 may be placed on an opposite side of the circuit board 16. Both the circuit board 16 with sensor and short-range communication capability as well as the power source 18 are enclosed in or encapsulated by the stiff core 14. Thereby the elements are protected against moisture. Their position within the core may also be fixed. In the figure there is shown an upper half 14a of the stiff core and a lower half 14b of the stiff core. It can be seen that there are a number of cut-outs in the solid core, both in the upper and lower half of the stiff core.

The core is also surrounded by the elastic material layer. In the figure there is shown an upper half 12a of the elastic material layer and a lower half 12 of the elastic material layer, each having one half of a cavity for receiving a corresponding half of the stiff core.

According to aspects of the invention, the stiff core is made of an epoxy resin. It may have good dielectric properties. It may for instance have a constant of dielectricity e in the range of 3- 4 and a loss tangent tand<0.004. The elastic material layer may in turn be a plastic or rubber layer, which plastic or rubber layer may be soft and with advantage in the form of a foam. It may be made

of a suitable plastic material such as a polyether, polyol or polyurethane. It may additionally have a Shore C hardness in the range of 60 C - 70 C and with advantage be 65 C.

As can be seen the elastic material layer is formed as a hollow sphere, which may have the previously mentioned first inner radius Ri defining an inner sphere and second outer radius Ro defining an outer sphere, where the hollow centre is adapted to harbour the stiff core.

The second outer radius Ro may be in the range of 1 - 1. 5 times higher than the first inner radius Ri and preferably 1. 3 times higher than the first inner radius Ri.

In the example given in fig. 2, the outer diameter of the elastic material layer, which corresponds to the second outer radius Ro may be 130 mm, while the inner diameter corresponding to the first inner radius, may be too mm. The outer radius of the plastic or rubber layer may thus be 65 mm, while the inner radius may be 50 mm. The radius of the solid core may in turn be 50 mm.

The first inner radius may as an example be in the range 80 - 120 mm, while the second outer radius may be in the range 120 - 140 mm.

The weight of the encapsulated elements may be below 90 g, for instance in the range 20 - 90 g. The stiff core with enclosed elements may additionally have a point of inertia that coincides with the object centre point.

These properties of the object have shown to exhibit the desired reaction to or behaviour for the experienced physical forces combined with acceptable sensor reading quality. Through the use of a stiff core encapsulating the circuitry with sensor functionality being surrounded by an elastic material layer in the above described way, the sensor is kept centrally located in the portable communication object and fixed within the core. The encapsulation also improves the durability of the object. Through additionally having a soft plastic or rubber layer, the impact on the ball is dampened and thereby the deterioration of the sensor reading quality is limited. It also keeps the encapsulation centred. Furthermore, the bouncing capability of the ball is

retained. The desired reaction of the object to external physical forces is thus retained while ensuring a sufficient sensor reading quality. Thereby it may additionally be possible to use off-the shelf sensors. This may be important if the object is a consumer product.

As can also be seen in fig. 2 the solid core may have cut-outs. The purpose of these cut-outs will be discussed in more detail shortly.

Fig. 3 schematically shows the circuit board 16, which as can be seen may have a circular shape and comprise sensing and communication circuitry 20. The circuitry 20 is here shown in the form of one component, which thus comprises the various sensors as well as the short-range communication functionality of the portable communication object. It should be realized that there may be more components. As an example, it is possible that there is one component for each function that is desired. Alternatively, one or more functions may be combined in one component. There may also be one or more sensor functions. There may for instance be an accelerometer. There may in addition or instead be a magnetometer and/or a gyroscope. It should however be realized that the number and types of sensors used depends on the application in which the object is to be used. As described above there is also a short-range communication function, such as a Near Field

Communication (NFC) function, which as was stated above may be BLE. It should however be realized that also here a number of alternatives exist, such as Radio-frequency identification (RFID), EnOcean or WI-SUN. In some instances mobile communication, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) may be used instead.

As can be seen the circuit board 16 comprises a board centre point BCP, which is provided in the centre of the board 16. The board centre point BCP is in the type of realization shown in the figure the centre of a circle. If the board is square, then it is in the centre point of such a square. An axis A formed as a normal of a plane comprising the board is also indicated. The axis A is perpendicular to the board and passes through the board centre point BCP. The board 16 further comprises an antenna 22 connected to the

circuitry 20. The antenna 22 may be provided along the periphery or perimeter of the circuit board 16. It may thus stretch along at least a part of the perimeter of the circuit board 16 and with advantage along more than half of the perimeter. The antenna may additionally have a suitable length having a determined relationship to the wavelength used in the wireless

communication, such as a quarter of the transmission wavelength. Such a length may be advantageous for resonance purposes.

The above-mentioned cut-outs provided in the core may be provided adjacent and aligned with the antenna. Thereby the dampening of the radiation is lowered. It may additionally be necessary to have the cut-outs in a half of the core to be placed symmetrically around the axis A. Similar cut-outs may be provided in the other half around the axis A, where the cut-outs of both halves may be aligned with each other. In this way the amount of epoxy resin covering the antenna may be lowered, which may improve the radio environment of the antenna. Also the weight of the object may be lowered. The symmetry of the cut-outs may in turn ensure that the response to physical forces essentially remains unchanged.

It is here possible that the antenna extends beyond the power source, i.e. beyond the battery. The antenna 22 may more particularly be placed further away from the axis A than any point of the power source. This means that the distance of the antenna to the axis A, which axis A is perpendicular to the board and passes through the board centre point BCP, is longer than the distance of any part of the power source to the same axis A. Thereby blocking of the antenna by the power source is avoided, which avoids further transmission quality reduction. The axis A may also pass through the object centre point. It is additionally possible that the board centre point and object centre point coincide.

Another problem is how to charge the power source. One way in which charging may be achieved is schematically indicated in fig. 4, which shows the ball 10 together with a charger 30. A first charging connector 26 is provided at or in the solid core 14. The first charging connector 26 is more particularly placed in an opening 24 in the object 10 stretching through the elastic material layer 12 to the solid core 14, where the first charging connector 26 is placed at the bottom of the opening 24, which bottom is on the surface of the stiff core 14 in the example given in fig. 4. The first charging connector 26 is then connected to a conductor 28 stretching from the core surface and through the core 14 to the circuit board 16 for connection to the power source (not shown). The first charging connector 26 is thereby placed at the surface of the stiff core 14 and connected to the power source 18 via wiring 28 stretching from the first charging connector 26 to the circuit board 16, Further wiring then typically leads to the power source so that it may be charged.

The charger 30 in turn has a stiff rod 36, equipped with a mating second connector 38 at the tip. The stiff rod 36 is adapted to be inserted in the opening 24 and when being inserted ensure that there is mating between the first and second connectors 26 and 38. Thereby the rod 36 is dimensioned or shaped for being inserted and received in the opening 24 and the second connector 38 is designed to mate with the first connector 36. The stiff rod 38 also interconnects the second charging connector 38 to a charger adapter 32, for instance via a cord 34.

Fig. 5 shows an alternative realization of the ball 10 and charger 30. In this case the opening 24 stretches from the surface of the object all the way down to the circuit board 16. The opening 24 thus passes through the elastic material layer 12 and the stiff core 14 all the way down to the circuit board 16, on which the first connector 26 is placed. The first connector 26 may with advantage be placed at the board centre point BCP.

In the embodiments shown in fig. 4 and 5, the first connector 26, may more particularly be centred around a line formed by the axis A and stretching between the object centre point OCP and the object surface via the board centre point BCP, which may or may not coincide. The first connector 26 may additionally be placed on the opposite side of the circuit board 16 compared with the power source. This placing of the first connector is advantageous in that the influence on the bouncing properties of the ball are limited by the placing of the opening. If necessary more openings, such as three or five more openings may be provided through the elastic material layer down to the board or core surface. The openings may be provided in pairs aligned with each other and on opposite sides of the object centre point, where each pair is placed along a corresponding axis perpendicular to the axes of the other pairs. Thereby the openings may be placed symmetrically around the object centre point in order to obtain the desired response to physical forces.

It can be seen that an object is obtained that combines a desired response to experienced physical forces while achieving a sufficient sensor reading accuracy. Thereby the object can as an example be used for recreational purposes, such as being thrown, bounced and caught. Additionally the sensor readings can be put to use, for instance in on-line computer games.

The antenna realization limits the signal quality detotio9ation combined with a retaining of the desired response to experienced physical forces and an acceptable signal quality. The charger realization prolongs the useful lifetime of the object while retaining the desired response to experienced physical forces and an acceptable signal quality.

The invention has mainly been described above with reference to a few embodiments. However, as is readily appreciated by a person skilled in the art, other embodiments than the ones disclosed above are equally possible within the scope of the invention, as defined by the appended patent claims.