Sony patents new mobile phone protection system – liquid cushions

Sony patent liquid cushion

Handsets are getting ever more advanced these days. With mobile convergence charging headlong towards a future where we trust our very lives in our little mobile devices, it makes sense for manufacturers to start conjuring up ways to make sure our precious gadgets can take a beating and keep on ticking. And, Sony has their own take on mobile phone protection.

An FCC patent application reveals Sony’s plans for a liquid cushioning system for mobile phone. The company’s new patent outlines plans to protect the sensitive internal components of mobile phones with liquid cushions. The idea is to encase these components in a water-tight envelope and place that envelope inside a liquid-filled case. When the component is moved towards a side of the liquid-filled case, as would happen in crash or bump of the mobile phone, the liquid moves slowly out of the way – through irises that control flow of the liquid to another portion of the case (think of the gel pad system in some running shoes – the gel moves from the forefoot to the heel to increase the time of impact, thereby reducing the impulse force on the foot).

Hit the link for a description abstract and list of claims.


An electronic device includes a chamber having a chamber wall surface defining a liquid-tight sealed space; an electronic unit housed in a liquid-tight case, the case being disposed in the chamber to define an intermediate space between the case and the chamber wall surface; a biasing unit in the chamber that biases the case toward a predetermined neutral position in the intermediate space; a liquid disposed in the intermediate space; and an iris system formed in the chamber such that when the case moves toward a portion of the chamber wall surface, the iris system cooperates with the case to define a flow path through which the liquid in a portion of the intermediate space between the case and the portion of the chamber wall surface flows to another portion of the intermediate space, a cross-sectional area of the flow path decreasing as the case moves closer to the portion of the chamber wall surface.

Claims
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1. An electronic device, comprising: a chamber having a chamber wall surface defining a liquid-tight sealed space; an electronic unit housed in a liquid-tight case, the case being disposed in the chamber to define an intermediate space between the case and the chamber wall surface; a biasing unit in the chamber that biases the case toward a predetermined neutral position in the intermediate space; a liquid disposed in the intermediate space; and an iris system formed in the chamber such that, when the case moves toward a portion of the chamber wall surface, the iris system cooperates with the case to define a flow path through which the liquid in a portion of the intermediate space between the case and the portion of the chamber wall surface flows to another portion of the intermediate space, a cross-sectional area of the flow path decreasing as the case moves closer to the portion of the chamber wall surface.

2. The electronic device according to claim 1, wherein the case has a rectangular shape extending in a thickness direction, a width direction, and a length direction, and the iris system includes an iris section opposite each surface of the case in the thickness, the width, and length directions.

3. The electronic device according to claim 2, further comprising: an intermediate case disposed in the chamber so that the intermediate space is defined between the chamber wall surface and the intermediate case, the intermediate case being disposed in the chamber so as to be immovable in the thickness direction and movable in the width and length directions, wherein the case of the electronic unit is disposed in the intermediate case so as to be movable in the thickness direction and immovable in the width and length directions, the biasing unit biases the case of the electronic unit in the intermediate case toward the neutral position in the thickness direction, and biases the intermediate case in the chamber to bring the case of the electronic unit toward the neutral position in the width and length directions, and the iris sections are provided in the chamber opposite each surface of the intermediate case in the thickness, width and length directions, and in the intermediate case opposite each surface of the case of the electronic unit in the thickness, width and length directions.

4. The electronic device according to claim 3, wherein the iris sections each include a plurality of convex portions protruding from portions of the chamber wall surface opposite the surfaces of the intermediate case in the width and length directions, and apertures formed in the surfaces of the intermediate case at positions opposed to the convex portions, whereby when the convex portions and the apertures are brought close to each other by movement of the intermediate case in the width and length directions from the neutral position, the flow path is defined by outer surfaces of the convex portions and inner surfaces of the apertures, and the cross-sectional area of the flow path decreases as the convex portions move toward the apertures, and when the case of the electronic unit moves in the thickness direction from the neutral position, the case of the electronic unit occludes at least some of the apertures, thereby reducing the cross-sectional area of the flow path.

5. The electronic device according to claim 4, wherein the convex portions are each formed in the shape of a truncated cone, and the inner surfaces of the apertures are coaxial with the convex portions in the neutral position, the inner surface of each of the apertures having a conical surface of a size sufficient to receive therein the corresponding convex portion.

6. The electronic device according to claim 1, further comprising: a flexible substrate electrically connected to the electronic unit, the flexible substrate protruding from the case of the electronic unit and extending to an outside of the chamber through a liquid-tight seal in the chamber wall surface.

7. The electronic device according to claim 1, wherein the liquid is water or silicon oil.

8. The electronic device according to claim 1, wherein the electronic unit is a disk drive for recording and/or reproduction of information.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] According to an embodiment of the present invention, there is provided an electronic device including a chamber having a chamber wall surface defining a liquid tight sealed space; an electronic unit housed in a liquid-tight case, the case being disposed in the chamber to define an intermediate space between the case and the chamber wall surface; a biasing unit in the chamber that biases the case toward a predetermined neutral position in the intermediate space; a liquid disposed in the intermediate space; and an iris system formed in the chamber such that, when the case moves toward a portion of the chamber wall surface, the iris system cooperates with the case to define a flow path through which the liquid in a portion of the intermediate space between the case and the portion of the chamber wall surface flows to another portion of the intermediate space, a cross-sectional area of the flow path decreasing as the case moves closer to the portion of the chamber wall surface.

[0015] According to the embodiment of the invention, the cross-sectional area of the flow path is changed depending on the magnitude of an impact force so that the flow path resistance can be changed in magnitude. This is advantageous to reduce, to a sufficient degree, the impact force irrespective of the magnitude.

Source

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