Neodron LTD v. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

Western District of Texas, txwd-6:2019-cv-00319

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3 Exhibit 1 Case 6:19-cv-00319-ADA Document Ili ! US008432173B2 (12) United States Patent Philipp (10) Patent No.: (45) Date of Patent: US 8,432,173 B2 Apr. 30, 2013 (54) CAPACITIVE POSITION SENSOR (75) Inventor: Harald Philipp, Zug (CH) (73) Assignee: Atmel Corporation, San Jose, CA (US) (*) Notice: Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this patent is extended or adjusted under 35 U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days. (21) Appl. No.: 13/118,280 (22) Filed: May 27, 2011 (65) Prior Publication Data US 2011/0227589 A1 Sep. 22, 2011 7,920,129 B2 8,031,094 B2 8,031,174 B2 8,040,326 B2 8,049,732 B2 8,179,381 B2 2003/0043174 AL 2004/0027395 AL 2004/0196267 Al 2004/0207605 Al 4/2011 Hotelling 10/2011 Hotelling 10/2011 Hamblin 10/2011 Hotelling 11/2011 Hotelling 5/2012 Frey 3/2003 Hinckley et al. 2/2004 Lection et al. 10/2004 Kawai et al. 10/2004 Mackey (Continued) DE DE FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS 19645907 Ai 5/1998 19903300 A1 8/1999 (Continued) OTHER PUBLICATIONS UK Intellectual Property Office, Combined Search and Examination Report in Corresponding UK application, Feb. 22, 2008. (Continued) (63) Related U.S. Application Data Continuation of application No. 12/703,614, filed on Feb. 10, 2010, now Pat. No. 7,952,367, which is a continuation of application No. 11/868,566, filed on Oct. 8, 2007, now abandoned. Provisional application No. 60/862,358, filed on Oct. 20, 2006. Primary Examiner – Vincent Q Nguyen (74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm — Baker Botts L.L.P. (60) (51) Int. Ci. GOIR 27/26 (2006.01) (52) U.S. CI. USPC .... 324/686; 324/667 (58) Field of Classification Search ................ 324/667, 324/676–690 See application file for complete search history. (56) References Cited (57) ABSTRACT In one embodiment, a method includes receiving one or more first signals indicating one or more first capacitive couplings of an object with a sensing element that comprises a sensing path that comprises a length. The first capacitive couplings correspond to the object coming into proximity with the sens- ing element at a first position along the sensing path of the sensing element. The method includes determining based on one or more of the first signals the first position of the object along the sensing path and setting a parameter to an initial value based on the first position of the object along the sens- ing path. The initial value includes a particular parameter value and is associated with a range of parameter values. The range of parameter values is associated with the length of the sensing path. U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS 4,121,204 A 10/1978 Welch et al. 4,264,903 A 4/1981 Bigelow 7,663,607 B2 2/2010 Hotelling 7,875,814 B2 1/2011 Chen 19 Claims, 4 Drawing Sheets | 175°C) 250°C/ 2000 100°C 20 150°C 3 US 8,432,173 B2 points made to the element to connect it to suitable driver/ but in most cases the temperature selected in the first mode of sensor electronics. The terms "object" and "finger" are used operation will indicate a temperature near to the actual tem- synonymously in reference to either an inanimate object such perature required by the user. A user may re-touch the sensing as a wiper or pointer or stylus, or alternatively a human finger element 100 of the sensor to reactivate the first mode of or other appendage, any of whose presence adjacent the ele- 5 operation and select a different temperature. The resolution of ment will create a localized capacitive coupling from a region the sensor may determine how close the temperature selected of the element back to a circuit reference via any circuitous in the first mode is to the desired temperature sought by the path, whether galvanically or non-galvanically. The term user. "touch" includes either physical contact between an object Turning now to FIGS. 2A and 2B, the capacitive sensor 60 and the element, or, proximity in free space between object 10 is shown in a second mode of operation. The capacitive sensor and element, or physical contact between object and a dielec- automatically enters the second mode of operation after a tric (such as glass) existing between object and element, or, temperature has been selected in the first mode of operation. proximity in free space including an intervening layer of In the second mode, a user is able to increase or decrease the dielectric existing between object and element. Hereinafter temperature selected in the first mode by a pre-determined the terms "circle" or "circular" refer to any ellipsoid, trap- 15 increment. Changing the temperature by a given increment ezoid, or other closed loop of arbitrary size and outline shape depends on a user displacing their finger in proximity with the having an open middle section. sensing element 100 by a pre-determined threshold angle. The embodiment shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B requires a 20° BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS rotation (i.e. threshold angle is 20°) to effect a temperature 20 change of -1°C. (G. 1 shows a control panel of an apparatus embodying a As shown in FIG. 2A, a user has displaced their finger in rotary capacitive sensor, the sensor being used in a first mode proximity with the sensing element 100 in an anti-clockwise of operation. direction to decrease the temperature of 175° C. selected in FIG. 2A shows the capacitive sensor of FIG. 1 being used the first mode. The user has moved his finger by 40° (i.e. 2x in a second mode of operation, with the user scrolling around 25 the threshold angle) from the first point of touch in the first the sensor in an anticlockwise direction. mode of operation, to cause a temperature decease by 2° C. to FIG. 2B shows the capacitive sensor of FIG. 1 being used 173° C. (shown by arrow C). As shown in FIG. 2B, the user in a second mode of operation, with the user scrolling around has moved his finger by 40° in a clockwise direction from the the sensor in a clockwise direction. first point of touch in the first mode of operation, to cause a FIG. 3 shows a control panel of an apparatus according to 30 temperature increase by 2° C. to 177° C. (arrow D). Advan- another embodiment, in which a rotary capacitive sensor is tageously, the capacitive sensor in the second mode of opera- being used in a first mode of operation. tion allows a user to accurately select a desired temperature. FIG. 4 shows the capacitive sensor of FIG. 3 being used in The resolution of the capacitive sensor in the second mode of a second mode of operation. operation is typically finer than that in the first mode of 35 operation. The threshold angle may be re-settable and is typi- DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS cally determined by a program stored in a microcontroller. In the second mode of operation as illustrated in FIGS. 2A FIG. 1 illustrates part of a control panel 50 having a capaci and 2B, a + and – indicator display 92 is present above the tive sensor 60 and a digital readout display 70. The control capacitive sensor 60 to indicate to the user that the tempera- panel 50 may be incorporated into an electronic appliance 40 ture can be increased or decreased by 1 unit(s). The digital such as a cooking oven, microwave oven, washing machine, display 70 shows the temperature as it is changed by the user. fridge freezer, television, MP3 player, mobile telephone or The LCD 75 showing the temperature scale in the first mode the like. The parameter or function to be controlled by the is no longer highlighted during the second mode of operation. capacitive sensor will depend on the type of electrical appli- FIG. 3 illustrates a rotary sensing element 20 of a capaci- ance in which the capacitive sensor is incorporated. Param- 45 tive position sensor 10 embodying particular embodiments. eters like volume, temperature, operating program, bright The capacitive sensor 10 is incorporated into a control panel ness, contrast are some examples of functions that may be of a cooking oven. The capacitive sensor 10 shown in FIG. 1 controlled by the capacitive sensor of particular embodi- is used to select a desired cooking ter ments. In particular embodiments, the parameter to be con sensor could be used for selecting any particular parameter trolled may be chosen from a predetermined list of param- 50 value based on the electrical appliance in use. The sensor of so that a user may advantageously adjust different FIG. 1 is shown in a first mode of operation. A user's finger 30 parameters on an electrical appliance or apparatus. The approaches the rotary sensing element 20 and is capacitively capacitive sensor 60 shown in FIG. 1 is set to control cooking coupled to the sensing element in the region between 150 to temperature of a microwave or cooking oven. 200° C. A temperature of 175° (is shown in the digital display The capacitive sensor 60 comprises a rotary sensing ele- 55 70. The first mode of operation of the sensor allows the user ment 100 for detecting capacitive coupling with an object, to select an approximate cooking temperature. The rotary typically an operator's finger. A Liquid Crystal Display 75 (or sensing element 20 may have a diameter of about 2 inches other known display) is formed in the control panel 50 to which, previously, would have made it difficult for a user to illuminate the temperature scale around the sensing element. accurately select a certain temperature. The temperature scale ranges from 0 to 300 degrees Centi- 60 The capacitive sensor 10 automatically enters a second grade. The capacitive sensor 60 is shown in a first mode of mode of operation after a temperature has been selected in the operation in which a user's finger is used to select a cooking first mode, as illustrated in FIG. 4. As shown in FIG. 4, the temperature. A user's finger 80 is shown in proximity with a temperature scale around the sensing element 20 has been portion of the sensing element 100 corresponding to a tem- modified or reset to expand the temperature range in the perature of 175 degrees Centigrade(° C.) which is displayed 65 capacitively coupled region determined from the first mode of on the digital readout display 70. The selected temperature of operation. The user may now select a desired temperature for 175° C. may be the desired temperature required by the user, cooking by scrolling his finger clockwise or anticlockwise 3 US 8,432,173 B2 10 around the sensing element until the desired temperature is placement corresponding to the second capacitive couplings reached, in this case 180º C. as shown on the digital display indicated by the second signals exceeds a pre-determined 70. The temperature scale illustrated in FIG. 4 is only an threshold, the second mode of operation being for adjusting example of how the capacitive sensor may be programmed to the parameter within the range of parameter values based on zoom in on a pre-determined temperature range. In the second 5 the displacement of the object along the sensing path, the first mode of operation, the number of degrees of rotation required mode of operation being for setting the parameter to the initial to effect a temperature change by a certain increment may be value. adjusted. The temperature selected may be displayed on an 4. The method of claim 3, wherein the pre-determined analogue or digital readout display formed within the control threshold value is determined at least in part by the initial panel, such as on digital display 70. 10 value and a sensitivity setting, the pre-determined threshold Herein, "or" is inclusive and not exclusive, unless value being different for different initial values or different expressly indicated otherwise or indicated otherwise by con- sensitivity settings. text. Therefore, herein, "A or B" means "A, B, or both," unless 5. The method of claim 1, wherein adjusting the parameter expressly indicated otherwise or indicated otherwise by con- comprises effecting an incremental change in the parameter text. Moreover, "and" is both joint and several, unless 15 from the initial value based on an amount of the displacement expressly indicated otherwise or indicated otherwise by con exceeding a pre-determined displacement threshold. text. Therefore, herein, "A and B" means "A and B, jointly or 6. The method of claim 1, wherein adjusting the parameter severally," unless expressly indicated otherwise or indicated comprises changing the parameter from the initial value by a otherwise by context. number of units based on a number of times an amount of the This disclosure encompasses all changes, substitutions, 20 displacement exceeds a pre-determined displacement thresh- variations, alterations, and modifications to the example old. embodiments herein that a person having ordinary skill in the 7. The method of claim 1, further comprising mapping all art would comprehend. Similarly, where appropriate, the or a portion of the range of parameter values onto the sensing appended claims encompass all changes, substitutions, varia- path around the initial value. tions, alterations, and modifications to the example embodi- 25 8. The method of claim 1, wherein the parameter is selected ments herein that a person having ordinary skill in the art from the group consisting of temperature, volume, contrast, would comprehend. Moreover, reference in the appended brightness, and frequency claims to an apparatus or system or a component of an appa 9. The method of claim 1, wherein the sensing element is ratus or system being adapted to, arranged to, capable of, part of an electronic appliance selected from the group con- configured to, enabled to, operable to, or operative to perform 30 sisting of a cooking oven, microwave oven, television, wash- a particular function encompasses that apparatus, system, ing machine, MP3 player, mobile phone, and multimedia component, whether or not it or that particular function is device. activated, turned on, or unlocked, as long as that apparatus, 10. One or more computer-readable non-transitory storage system, or component is so adapted, arranged, capable, con media embodying logic that is operable when executed to: figured, enabled, operable, or operative. 35 receive one or more first signals indicating one or more first What is claimed is: capacitive couplings of an object with a sensing element 1. A method comprising: that comprises a sensing path that comprises a length, receiving one or more first signals indicating one or more the first capacitive couplings corresponding to the object first capacitive couplings of an object with a sensing coming into proximity with the sensing element at a first element that comprises a sensing path that comprises a 40 position along the sensing path of the sensing element length, the first capacitive couplings corresponding to determine based on one or more of the first signals the first the object coming into proximity with the sensing ele- position of the object along the sensing path; ment at a first position along the sensing path of the set a parameter to an initial value based on the first position sensing element of the object along the sensing path, the initial value determining based on one or more of the first signals the 45 comprising a particular parameter value and being asso- first position of the object along the sensing path; ciated with a range of parameter values, the range of setting a parameter to an initial value based on the first parameter values being associated with the length of the position of the object along the sensing path, the initial sensing path; value comprising a particular parameter value and being receive one or more second signals indicating one or more associated with a range of parameter values, the range of 50 second capacitive couplings of the object with the sens- parameter values being associated with the length of the ing element, the second capacitive couplings corre- sensing path; sponding to a displacement of the object along the sens- receiving one or more second signals indicating one or ing path from the first position; and more second capacitive couplings of the object with the determine based on one or more of the second signals the sensing element, the second capacitive couplings corre- 55 displacement of the object along the sensing path; and sponding to a displacement of the object along the sens adjust the parameter within range of parameter values ing path from the first position; and based on the displacement of the object along the sens- determining based on one or more of the second signals the ing path. displacement of the object along the sensing path; and 11. The media of claim 10, wherein the sensing path com- adjusting the parameter within the range of parameter val- 60 prises a closed loop. ues based on the displacement of the object along the 12. The media of claim 10, wherein the logic is further sensing path. operable to switch from a first mode of operation to a second 2. The method of claim 1, wherein the sensing path com mode of operation in response to one or more of the second prises a closed loop. signals if the displacement corresponding to the second 3. The method of claim 1, further comprising switching 65 capacitive couplings indicated by the second signals exceeds from a first mode of operation to a second mode of operation a pre-determined threshold, the second mode of operation in response to one or more of the second signals if the dis- being for adjusting the parameter within the range of param- 3 US 8,432,173 B2 11 12 19. An apparatus comprising: a sensing element that comprises a sensing path that com- prises a length; and one or more computer-readable non-transitory storage media embodying logic that is operable when executed to: eter values based on the displacement of the object along the sensing path, the first mode of operation being for setting the parameter to the initial value. 13. The media of claim 12, wherein the pre-determined threshold value is determined at least in part by the initial value and a sensitivity setting, the pre-determined threshold value being different for different initial values or different sensitivity settings. 14. The media of claim 10, wherein adjusting the parameter 10 comprises effecting an incremental change in the parameter from the initial value based on an amount of the displacement exceeding a pre-determined displacement threshold. 15. The media of claim 10, wherein adjusting the parameter comprises changing the parameter from the initial value by a 15 number of units based on a number of times an amount of the displacement exceeds a pre-determined displacement thresh- old. 16. The media of claim 10, wherein the logic is further operable to map all or a portion of the range of parameter 20 values onto the sensing path around the initial value. 17. The media of claim 10, wherein the parameter is selected from the group consisting of temperature, volume, contrast, brightness, and frequency. 25 18. The media of claim 10, wherein the media and the sensing element are part of an electronic appliance selected from the group consisting of a cooking oven, microwave oven, television, washing machine, MP3 player, mobile phone, and multimedia device. receive one or more first signals indicating one or more first capacitive couplings of an object with the sensing element, the first capacitive couplings corresponding to the object coming into proximity with the sensing element at a first position along the sensing path of the sensing element determine based on one or more of the first signals the first position of the object along the sensing path; set a parameter to an initial value based on the first position of the object along the sensing path, the ini- tial value comprising a particular parameter value and being associated with a range of parameter values, the range of parameter values being associated with the length of the sensing path; receive one or more second signals indicating one or more second capacitive couplings of the object with the sensing element, the second capacitive couplings corresponding to a displacement of the object along the sensing path from the first position; and determine based on one or more ofthe second signals the displacement of the object along the sensing path; and adjust the parameter within range of parameter values based on the displacement of the object along the sensing path. 3 US 8,432,173 B2 Page 2 WO WO WO 2007072294 A1 6/2007 2010075463 A4 9/2010 WO 2012/129247 9/2012 OTHER PUBLICATIONS U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS 2005/0052429 Al 3/2005 Philipp 2005/0078027 Al 4/2005 Philipp 2006/0016800 A1 1/2006 Paradiso et al. 2008/0094077 AL 4/2008 Philipp 2009/0051660 A1 2/2009 Feland et al. 2009/0115431 Al 5/2009 Philipp 2009/0315854 A1 12/2009 Matsuo 2012/0242588 AL 9/2012 Myers 2012/0242592 Al 9/2012 Rothkopf 2012/0243151 A1 9/2012 Lynch 2012/0243719 AL 9/2012 Franklin DE DE DE DE DE EP FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS 10133135 AL 1/2003 10313401 A 10/2004 212004000044 U16/2006 102005002952 A1 7/2006 102005018298 A 10/2006 1273851 A2 1/2003 1602882 Al 12/2005 2443296 A 4/2008 2003088176 A 10/2003 2006133976 A1 12/2006 2007006624 AL 1/2007 2007023067 Al 3/2007 U.S. Appl. No. 11/868,566, Non-Final Office Action mailed Oct. 1, 2009, 19 pages. U.S. Appl. No. 12/317,305, Non-Final Office Action mailed Oct. 1, 2009, 15 pages. U.S. Appl. No. 12/317,305, Interview Summary and Supplemental Office Action mailed Feb. 9, 2010, 12 pages. U.S. Appl. No. 12/317,305, Response filed Mar. 1, 2010 to Non-Final Office Action mailed Oct. 1, 2009 and the Supplemental Office Action mailed Feb. 9, 2010, 14 pages. U.S. Appl. No. 12/317,305, Notice of Allowance mailed Apr. 12, 2010, 7 pages, Apr. 4, 2010. International Application Serial No. PCT/US2009/069322, Interna- tional Search Report mailed May 7, 2010, 3 pages. International Application Serial No. PCT/US2009/069322, Written Opinion mailed May 7, 2010, 5 pages. German Application Serial No. 102007049559.7, Office Action mailed Jan. 4, 2011, 10 pages. U.S. Appl. No. 61/454,936, filed Mar. 21, 2011, Myers. U.S. Appl. No. 61/454,950, filed Mar. 21, 2011, Lynch. U.S. Appl. No. 61/454,894, filed Mar. 21, 2011, Rothkopf. EP GB WO WO WO WO 3 U.S. Patent Apr. 30, 2013 Sheet 1 of 4 US 8,432,173 B2 Wwwwww. et det NON wem T O 100 testowania ntit With e nting putih doces rity represe oridad FIG. 1 3 U.S. Patent Apr. 30, 2013 Sheet 2 of 4 US 8,432,173 B2 173°c) VA FIG. 2A wwwwwww [177] wwwwwwwwww www visus Bassin Whion www .CO FIG. 2B 3 U.S. Patent Apr. 30, 2013 Sheet 3 of 4 US 8,432,173 B2 WAAMWEARANN 175°C 250°C Erwin mens pierw 20000 sich 100°C 150°C 20 van eiminnst nisbitesti h FIG. 3 3 U.S. Patent Apr. 30, 2013 Sheet 4 of 4 US 8,432,173 B2 MANN 180°C 710 200°C mommy intenter ww w inderte 160°C *** 20 wanawianco 170°C owowolnicainer 1 130 FIG.4 3 US 8,432,173 B2 CAPACITIVE POSITION SENSOR an additional digital display is activated to show the current numerical value of the parameter being adjusted. In the zoom RELATED APPLICATIONS mode, only a fraction (e.g. 10%) of the original adjustment range is mapped onto the adjustment strip so that moving a This application is a continuation under 35 U.S.C. $120 of 5 finger across the full length of the sensor strip from left to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/703,614, filed 10 Feb. right (or right to left) will only increase (decrease) the current 2010, which is a continuation under 35 U.S.C. $120 of U.S. setting of the parameter value, thereby providing a finer patent application Ser. No. 11/868,566, filed 8 Oct. 2007, adjustment. During this fine adjustment, the display strip which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. $119(e) of U.S. keeps its original function as a relative indicator of the full Provisional Patent Application No. 60/862,358, filed 20 Oct. 10 range between the minimum and maximum values. 2006. More generally, linear, curved and circular sensor strips for adjusting cooker settings have been known for many years, TECHNICAL FIELD for example see U.S. Pat. No. 4,121,204 (resistive or capaci- tive sensor), DE19645907A1 (capacitive sensor), This disclosure generally relates to touch sensors. 15 DE19903300A1 (resistive sensor), and EP1602882A1 (opti- cal sensor). BACKGROUND WO2006/133976A1, WO2007/006624A1 and WO2007/ 023067A1 are more recent examples of work on touch-sen- Particular embodiments relate to capacitive position sen sitive control strips for domestic appliances using capacitive sors. Particular embodiments relate more particularly to 20 sensors. These three patent applications were filed before the capacitive position sensors for detecting the position of an priority date of the present application, but first published object around a curved path. after the priority date of the present application. In particular, Capacitive position sensors are applicable to human inter- WO2006/133976A1 and WO2007/023067A1 disclose sen- faces as well as material displacement sensing in conjunction sors with a zoom function similar to the above described with controls and appliances, mechanisms and machinery, 25 EP1273851A2 which is used for setting a timer. and computing. WO2006/133976A1 provides an adjustment strip with two Capacitive position sensors in general have recently operational modes. In the first mode the full parameter value become increasingly common and accepted in human inter- range is mapped across the sensor strip. For example 0 to 99 faces and for machine control. In the field of home appliances minutes in a timer function. If a user wishes to set the timer to it is now quite common to find capacitive touch controls 30 30 minutes, he touches the strip approximately one third way operable through glass or plastic panels. These sensors are along. A parameter value of say 34 minutes is sensed by the increasingly typified by U.S. Pat. No. 6,452,514 which capacitive sensor, and displayed to the user on a numeric describes a matrix sensor approach employing charge-trans- display. Once the initial value has been set, the effect of fer principles. Electrical appliances, such as TVs, washing touching the sensor field is automatically changed to a second machines, and cooking ovens increasingly have capacitive 35 mode in which the parameter value is decreased (or sensor controls for adjusting various parameters, for example increased) finely from the initially selected value by an volume, time and temperature. amount that depends on the distance moved by the finger Due to increasing market demand for capacitive touch along the sensor strip. In the example, the user can then slide controls, there is an increased need for lower cost-per-func his finger from right to left to reduce the time from 34 minutes tion as well as greater flexibility in usage and configuration. 40 to the desired 30 minutes, using the display for visual feed- There exists a substantial demand for new human interface back. In this way, the user can initially make a rough selection technologies which can, at the right price, overcome the tech- of the desired parameter value with a point and touch action, nical deficits of electromechanical controls on the one hand, and then refine it to the exact value desired by a finger sliding and the cost of touch screens or other exotica on the other action. EP1273851A2 discloses a device for adjusting tempera- 45 WO2007/023067A1 provides an adjustment strip with two ture settings, power settings or other parameters of a cooking operational modes that switch between mapping the full apparatus. The device comprises a strip sensor which may be parameter value range across the sensor strip and a partial linear, curved or circular and may be a capacitive touch sensor range selected to show the sub-range of parameter values or some other form of touch sensor. A linear display is between which the parameter is most often set by a user. The arranged in parallel to the sensor. The capacitive touch sensor 50 example of setting the timer on a cooker is given. is sensitive to the touch of a finger and the display strip is While a zoom function is useful, prior art implementations made up of multiple display segments which illuminate to of the zoom function have limitations regarding the manner in show the current touch setting as defined by a finger touch on which the transition is effected from the full range mode to the the capacitive touch sensor. A predetermined calibration zoom mode. In EP1273851A2, the user is made to wait for a curve relating to a parameter to be adjusted is mapped onto 55 certain time, 10 seconds in the specific example, until the the strip, the range extending from a minimum value to a transition occurs. On the other hand, in WO2006/133976A1 maximum value. The minimum value may correspond to an the transition automatically occurs as soon as a value from the full range is selected. tional modes may be associated with the adjustment strip to ascribe new functions to the sensor strip. These can be 60 SUMMARY selected by touching the display for a certain time. For example, a first additional mode can be entered by touching Particular embodiments provide an improved capacitive for 5 seconds, and a second additional mode by touching for position sensor for an electrical appliance in which a desired 10 seconds. One of the additional operational modes is a parameter value can be more efficiently and accurately zoom mode which provides for fine adjustment of the param- 65 selected. eter value. The zoom operational mode can be activated by a Particular embodiments provide a capacitive position sen- contact time of, for example, 10 seconds. In the zoom mode sor for detecting a position of an object comprising: a sensing 3 US 8,432,173 B2 element comprising a sensing path; at least one terminal object on the sensing element; in the second mode displacing connected to the sensing element; at least one sensing channel the object on the sensing element to adjust the parameter or connected to the at least one terminal in which the sensing function from the value initially set to the desired value; and channel is operable to generate a signal indicative of capaci processing the signal to determine the selected parameter or tance between the terminal and a system ground; means to 5 function value. determine a position of an object on the sensing element; and In particular embodiments, the capacitive sensor may work means to further refine the position of the object correspond- in a first mode and a second mode. In a first mode, a signal ing to a value in a parameter range of values. may be generated which is indicative of capacitive coupling Particular embodiments provide a capacitive position sen- of an object, for example a user's finger, with the sensing sor for setting a parameter or function to a desired value in a 10 element. The signal generated in the first mode may provide range of parameter or function values by determining the an approximate position of an object in relation to a desired position of an object on a capacitive position sensor, the parameter value the user wishes to select. A processor may be capacitive position sensor comprising: a sensing element comprising a sensing path; at least one terminal connected to provided to interpret and process the signal to determine the the sensing element; at least one sensing channel connected to 15 approxim approximate position of an object on the sensing element. In the at least one terminal in which the sensing channel is the first mode of operation, the capacitive sensor may gener- operable to generate a signal indicative of capacitance ate a signal indicative of capacitive coupling caused by bring- between the terminal and a system ground; means to deter ing an object into proximity with a desired location on the mine a position of an object on the sensing element; means to sensor or by moving displacement of the object in proximity further refine the position of the object corresponding to a 20 with the sensing element. value in the range of parameter or function values; and a In particular embodiments, the capacitive sensor may enter processor operable to interpret and process the signal to deter- a second mode of operation if moving displacement of the mine the approximate position of an object on the sensing object in proximity with the sensing element during a first path, the processor being configured to provide a first mode of mode of operation exceeds a minimum threshold value. For the capacitive position sensor in which the range of parameter 25 example, for a sensing element in the form of a rotary capaci- or function values is mapped onto the sensing path and in tive sensor, if a user displaces an object in proximity with the which the parameter or function can be set to approximately sensing element during a first mode of operation by a mini- the desired value by a touch of the sensing path at a first point, mum threshold angle in relation to a first point of touch of the and a second mode in which displacement of an object on the object on the sensing element, the capacitive sensor may sensing element adjusts the parameter or function from the 30 switch into a second mode of operation. The minimum value initially set in the first mode, wherein the processor is threshold angle may be determined by an algorithm pro- configured to switch from the first mode to the second mode grammed into a microcontroller and the threshold angle may responsive to capacitive coupling caused by moving displace be set at different values depending on the sensitivity required ment of an object along the sensing path in relation to the first and the parameter which is being adjusted. In one embodi- point of touch. 35 ment, the threshold angle may be set at 20 degrees before the Particular embodiments provide a method for determining capacitive sensor switches from the first mode to the second the position of an object on a capacitive position sensor as mode of operation. An approximate parameter value may be hereinbefore defined, the method comprising bringing an obtained in the first mode and in the second mode a desired object into proximity with the sensing element so as to deter- parameter value may be selected mine a position of the object, initiating a change in mode of 40 In the second mode of operation, an object may be dis- the sensor to respond to capacitive coupling caused by mov- placed in proximity with the sensing ele ing displacement of an object on the sensor element, displac mined threshold value, for example 20 degrees, to effect an ing an object on the sensing element to select a value in a incremental change in the parameter value thereby allowing a parameter range of values, and processing the signal to deter desired specific parameter value to be selected. Advanta- mine the selected parameter value. 45 geously, a capacitive sensor of particular embodiments oper- Particular embodiments provide a method for setting a ating in a first mode may allow a parameter value to be parameter or function to a desired value in a range of param- selected (which may be the desired value, or near to the ction values by determining the position of an desired value, the user wishes to select) and in a second mode object on a capacitive position sensor, the capacitive position the sensor may effect an incremental increase or decrease of sensor comprising: a sensing element comprising a sensing 50 the parameter value selected in the first mode. In the second path; at least one terminal connected to the sensing element; nsing element; mode, a parameter value may be increased or decreased by a at least one sensing channel connected to the at least one pre-determined amount, for example +1 unit, 5 units, or +10 terminal in which the sensing channel is operable to generate units, based on the number of times an object is displaced on a signal indicative of capacitance between the terminal and a the sensing element exceeding a pre-determined threshold system ground; means to determine a position of an object on 55 value. Therefore, the threshold value may correspond to an the sensing element; and means to further refine the position increase or decrease of the parameter value by, say, 21 unit, of the object corresponding to a value in the range of param and each time the threshold value is reached (n times) the eter or function values, the method comprising: in a first mode parameter value will increase or decrease by +1 (n times 1). of the capacitive position sensor in which the range of param- In particular embodiments, the capacitive sensor may enter eter or function values is mapped onto the sensing path bring- 60 a second mode of operation by effectively "zooming-in" on a ing an object into proximity with the sensing element at a first narrower range of parameter values, compared to the param- point so as to determine a position of the object and thereby eter range displayed in the first mode, so that a user may initially set the parameter or function to approximately the accurately select a desired parameter value. The narrower desired value; initiating a change in mode of the sensor from range of parameter values shown during the second mode will nd mode responsive to capacitive 65 be determined by the parameter value selected in the first coupling caused by moving displacement of the object along mode, for example plus and minus 10 units from the value the sensing path in relation to the first point of touch of the selected in the first mode. In the second mode of operation, an 3 US 8,432,173 B2 object may be displaced along the sensing element so as to again simply by retouching the sensing element. When the select the desired parameter value. second mode of operation is initiated, a user may scroll the The processor for determining the position of an object in sensing element to select a specific value of a certain param- proximity with the sensing element in a first mode of opera- eter. An output signal may be generated indicative of a spe- tion may be operable for also determining the position of an 5 cific parameter value when an object ceases displacement at a object in proximity with the sensing element in a second certain position on the sensing element. In an embodiment, if mode of operation. a user releases touch from the sensing element in a second In particular embodiments, the capacitive sensor may func- mode and retouches the sensing element then the first mode of tion in a first mode of operation in which an approximate operation may be activated again. parameter value may be selected followed by a second mode 10 In particular embodiments, the capacitive position sensor of operation in which a specific parameter value may be may further comprise one or more discrete sensing areas in selected. The range of parameter values associated with the the centre region of a rotary sensing element. If the sensing capacitive sensor (i.e. the resolution) may determine whether areas in the centre region of the sensing element sense capaci- a desired parameter value can be selected in the first mode of tive coupling to an object, any signal produced from the operation. The second mode of operation will allow a desired 15 sensing element is reduced or "locked out" using the Adjacent parameter value to be accurately selected, for example, either Key SuppressionTM technology described in the applicant's by zooming-in on a narrower range of parameter values earlier U.S. Pat. No. 6,993,607 and U.S. Patent Application around the parameter value selected in the first mode and Publication No. 2006/0192690, both incorporated herein by displacing an object in proximity with the sensing element to reference. Any output signal from the rotary sensing element select the desired value, or, by displacing an object in prox- 20 caused by capacitive coupling with an object may also lock imity with the sensing element to exceed a predetermined out a signal from the central sensing areas. The sensing ele- threshold value in order to change the parameter value ment may be embodied by a single resistor, for example it selected from the first mode by one or more increments. The may comprise a resistive material deposited on a substrate to number of times the threshold value is exceeded may deter- form a continuous pattern. This provides for an easy-to-fab- mine the number of times the parameter value is increased or 25 ricate resistive sensing element which can be deposited on the decreased. substrate in any one of a range of patterns. Alternatively, the A capacitive sensor of particular embodiments may be sensing element may be made from a plurality of discrete incorporated into a control panel of an electronic appliance or resistors. The discrete resistors may be alternately connected gadget, for example a cooking oven, microwave oven, televi- in series with a plurality of conducting sense plates, the sense sion, washing machine, MP3 player, mobile phone, or other 30 plates providing for increased capacitive coupling between multimedia device. A wide range of parameters or functions the object and the resistive sensing element. This provides for may be controlled by the capacitive sensor of particular a resistive sensing element which can be fabricated from embodiments, dependent on the type of electronic appliance widely available off-the-shelf items. The disclosure of in which the capacitive sensor is incorporated, for example, WO2005/019766 is incorporated herein by reference as an temperature, volume, contrast, brightness, or frequency. The 35 example of the capacitance measurement circuitry which parameter or function to be controlled may be selected prior may be used. Alternatively, a resistorless sensing element to use of the capacitive sensor. similar to that described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,264,903 may be Advantageously, the sensor has a higher degree of resolu used to form the capacitive sensor of particular embodiments. tion in the second mode allowing a user to move their finger The resistive sensing element may have a substantially in proximity with the sensing element to select a specific 40 constant resistance per unit length. This provides for a capaci- parameter value. If the sensing element is in the form of a tive position sensor having a simple uniform response. Where closed loop, a user may be able to scroll clockwise or anti greater positional resolution is required or when employing a clockwise around the sensing element to select the desired relatively long resistive sensing element, the resistive sensing value. In the second mode for example, a 20 degree rotation element may include a plurality of terminals. may be equivalent to changing a parameter value by 1 unit. 45 The object to be detected may be a pointer, for example a The amount of rotation required by an object on the sensing finger or a stylus, which can be freely positioned by a user. element to cause an incremental change in a parameter value Alternatively, the object may be a wiper held in proximity to may be varied dependent on the parameter or function being the resistive sensing element, the position of the wiper along controlled. Control circuitry or a program-controlled micro the resistive sensing element being detected by the capacitive processor may be used to control the degree of rotation 50 position sensor. The position of the wiper may be adjusted by required to cause a change in a parameter value. a user, for example by turning a rotary knob, or may be In particular embodiments, the sensing element is arcuate coupled to a shaft driven by connected equipment such that in shape. In particular embodiments, the sensing element is in the capacitive position sensor can act as an encoder. the form of a closed loop for use in a rotary capacitive position Particular embodiments provide a sensor having high reli- sensor. In a rotary capacitive position sensor embodiment, an 55 ability, a sealed surface, low power consumption, simple object may be moved along the sensing element of the sensor design, ease of fabrication, and the ability to operate using for a plurality of revolutions and the distance moved by the off-the-shelf logic or microcontrollers. object may determine the output signal which is generated by In U.S. Pat. No. 6,466,036, the applicant teaches a capaci- the sensing channel(s). tive field sensor employing a single coupling plate to detect In the first mode of operation of the capacitive sensor, 60 change in capacitance to ground. This apparatus comprises a capacitive coupling of an object in proximity with a sensing circuit employing repetitive charge-then-transfer or charge- element may be detected to give an approximate position in plus-transfer cycles using common integrated CMOS push- relation to a range of values for a given parameter. If a user pull driver circuitry. This technology forms the basis of par- wishes to obtain different position data, the object may be ticular embodiments and is incorporated by reference herein. removed from proximity with the sensing element and then 65 Some definitions are now made. "Element" refers to the brought into proximity with the said sensing element again. In physical electrical sensing element made of conductive sub- other words, a user may initiate the first mode of the sensor stances. "Electrode" refers to one of the galvanic connection