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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
SURFACE MOUNTING DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/007806
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Embodiments of the present disclosure aim to improve upon mounting systems. In particular, embodiments are described which relate to the mounting of peripheral or small electronic devices, which can be held in a user's hand, to another location, which may be a further electronic device, such as a tablet computer. The mounting device of the present invention comprises various features which improve upon existing systems, including a combination of magnetic attachment and a cooperating male and female surface cam structure which when operated by a user causes a lessening of the magnetic attraction in order that the mounted device may be more easily separated from the component to which it is mounted.

Inventors:
WADE THOMAS MARCUS ROBERT HUNTER (GB)
ROEBUCK JAMES DAVID (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2018/067438
Publication Date:
January 10, 2019
Filing Date:
June 28, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SPOTSPOT LTD (GB)
International Classes:
F16M11/04; F16M11/10; F16M13/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016078772A12016-05-26
WO2017004072A12017-01-05
WO2016205041A12016-12-22
Foreign References:
US20150380139A12015-12-31
Other References:
SEEKER: "How Does Wireless Charging Work?", YOUTUBE, 14 September 2014 (2014-09-14), pages 1 pp., XP054978737, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20181002]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COATES, Robert (Lacon London84 Theobalds Road, London Greater London WC1X 8NL, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A mounting device, comprising:

a male portion; and

a female portion, the male portion and the female portion being separably couplable to each other,

a magnet, arranged to exert a magnetic force between the male and the female portions when they are brought into a coupled position so as to maintain a coupled arrangement,

wherein the male portion and the female portion are arranged such that when they are brought together into the coupled position a coupling plane and a coupling surface are established, characterised in that the surface geometry of the male portion and the female portion is arranged such that when in the coupled position, movement of the portions relative to each other in the coupling plane causes movement of the male and female portions relative to each other in a direction perpendicular to the coupling plane, thereby lessening the magnetic force between the male and female portions.

2. The mounting device of claim 1, wherein the male and female portions are provided on a male and female planar base plate, respectively, the surface geometry of the male portion and female portion constitutes a cooperating cam structure, the cam structure arranged to translate relative motion of the male portion and the female portion in the coupling plane into motion perpendicular to the coupling plane.

3. The mounting device of claim 2, wherein the cam structure has two or more orders of rotational symmetry, such that when the male and female portions are in the coupled position, the male portion may be aligned in one of two or more discrete rotational alignments.

4. The mounting device of claim 3, wherein rotational movement of the male portion and the female portion relative to each other in the coupling plane causes the movement perpendicular to the coupling plane.

5. The mounting device of claim 4, wherein the cam structure of the male portion has an external geometry which comprises a torus having non circular cross section and a central axis perpendicular to the coupling plane.

6. The mounting device of claim 5, wherein the cross section of the torus has a height in the direction of the central axis which varies sinusoidally with angle around the torus.

7. The mounting device of claim 5 or claim 6, wherein the cam structure on the female portion comprises a recess for receiving the cam structure of the male portion, the recess having a geometry which corresponds to the external geometry of the cam structure of the male portion.

8. The mounting device of claim 4, wherein the cam structure on each of the male portion and the female portion comprises a circular track having a central axis perpendicular to the plane of the base plate and height which varies with angle about the axis such that the track crosses the plane of the base plate, so as to form at least one protrusion and recess in each of the male and female base plates.

9. The mounting device of claim 8, wherein the height varies sinusoidally with angle about the axis.

10. The mounting device of claim 2, wherein the cam structure on the male portion comprises a cylinder having its axis lying perpendicular to the coupling plane, and having a circumferential height which varies with angle about the axis.

11. The mounting device of claim 10, wherein the circumferential height comprises one or more step changes.

12. The mounting device of any of claim 2 to claim 9, wherein the cam structure comprises a closed-loop track, the track protruding from the male portion, and being recessed into the female portion.

13. The mounting device of claim 12, wherein the outer edge of the track is in the formed of a rounded square or a squircle.

14. The mounting device of any of claim 3 to claim 12, comprising one or more magnets arranged in each of the male portion and female portion, the magnets in the respective male portion and female portion being arranged such that in the coupled position they are substantially aligned to provide the magnetic attraction to hold the mounting device together.

15. The mounting device of claim 14, wherein the magnets are arranged such that a rotation in the coupling plane of the male portion relative to the female portion from an orientation in which the male portion and female portion are coupled is sufficient to bring the magnets out of alignment, in order that the magnetic force between the male portion and the female portion is lessened.

16. The mounting device of claim 14 or 15, wherein the magnets are arranged to provide magnetic repulsion when the male portion is oriented in an orientation which is not one of the discrete rotational alignments.

17. The mounting device of any preceding claim, comprising a correlated magnet.

18. The mounting device of claim 1, wherein the movement in the coupling plane is a translational movement in a first direction.

19. The mounting device of claim 18, wherein movement in the coupling plane in second direction opposite the first direction causes movement of the male and female portions relative to each other in a direction perpendicular to the coupling plane, thereby lessening the magnetic force between the male and female portions.

20. The mounting device of claim 18 or claim 19, wherein the coupling surface crosses the coupling plane.

21. The mounting device of any of claim 18 to 20, wherein the coupling surface is formed by a ramp on the male portion having a non-zero angle to the coupling plane arranged to cooperate with a ramp on the female portion having the same non-zero angle to the coupling plane.

22. The mounting device of claim 21, wherein the coupling surface is wavy in cross section.

23. The mounting device of claim 1, wherein the surface geometry of the male portion comprises a first ramp, angled with respect to the coupling plane, and the surface geometry of the female portion comprises a corresponding second ramp, a top surface of the second ramp arranged to mate with a top surface of the first ramp so as to form the coupling surface when the male portion and the female portion are in the coupling position.

24 The mounting device of claim 23, wherein the ramp has a maximum angle with respect to the coupling plane of 45 degrees.

25. The mounting device of claim 23 wherein the ramp has an angle relative to the coupling plane of between zero and fifteen degrees.

26. The mounting device of claim 23, wherein the ramp has an angle relative to the coupling plane which varies along a length of the ramp from zero to fifteen degrees.

27. The mounting device of any of claim 23 to 26, wherein the first ramp and second ramp form part of a continuous loop track formed on each of the male portion and female portion, respectively.

28. The mounting device of any of claim 23 to claim 27 wherein the male portion is provided on male base plate and comprises a loop track which protrudes from the male base plate, and the female portion is provided on a female base plate and comprises a loop track which is correspondingly recessed into the female base plate so as to receive the male portion when the male portion and female portion are brought into the coupled position.

29. The mounting device of claim 27 or 28, wherein the loop track formed on the male portion and female portion has at least 2 orders of rotational symmetry.

30. The mounting device of claim 29, wherein the height of the loop track varies in a wave-like relation with angle around the track.

31. The mounting device of any preceding claim, for an electronic device.

32. The mounting device of any of claim 1 to claim 31, wherein the female portion comprises a flexible strap member.

33. The mounting device of any preceding claim, further comprising a charging device, which allows for the passage of electrical current from a charging element in the male portion to a charging element in the female portion.

34. The mounting device of claim 33, wherein the charging device comprises spring loaded electrical contacts mounted on one of the male portion and female portion, which contact mounted electrical contacts located on the other of the male and female portion when the mounting device is in the coupled position.

35. The mounting device of claim 33, wherein the charging device comprises one or more induction coils located in each of the male portion and female portion.

36. The mounting device of any preceding claim, wherein the male and female portions are provided with electrical contacts, the mounting device arranged such that when in the coupled position, the electrical contacts present on the male and female portions provide an electrical connection between the male and female portions.

37. The mounting device of claim 36, wherein the electrical connection between the male and female portions is arranged for the transfer of data between a first and second electronic device to which the male and female portions are mounted, respectively.

Description:
Surface Mounting Device

Technical Field

The invention relates to a surface mounting device. Background to the Invention and Prior Art

There are a great deal of portable consumer electronics devices available. Since the turn of the millennium the rise in the use of mobile phones, and the advent of smartphones, wearable wireless technology and tablet computing has changed the way in which people interact with computing technology. In particular, the use of tablet computers (also known simply as "tablets") in retail and customer focussed settings has increased dramatically, due to the advantages provided by tablets' computing power, wireless connectivity and portability.

In many settings computing devices are used with other complimentary peripheral devices, which are generally specifically designed to perform a limited number of tasks. Various examples of peripheral devices exist, such as card readers, which can read data from a payment card either by use of a magnetic stripe, chip or RFID/NFC and then transmit transaction data back to a point of sale terminal; barcode scanners which are able to optically read barcode data; portable printers; and other scanners, etc. Peripherals devices may have power requirements which mean they need frequent charging. Further, in certain settings they need to be used in conjunction with a device which is itself mobile. The opportunity for say a tablet computer and its associated peripheral device to become separated is non-trivial. The peripheral device should still be usable independently of the tablet, however.

Various physical mountings currently exist, from cradles which support the peripheral device, to snap lock mechanisms which require the user to align corresponding features on the peripheral with features on a mount. These solutions are often either bulky or require the user to spend time to ensure that a proper fit has been achieved, in order that the proper connection is made.

In a fast moving environment such as in a retail setting, the user of a tablet computer and associated peripheral device may need the peripheral device to charge with the tablet, and be carried with the tablet throughout the day. The peripheral device needs to be strongly attached to the tablet so that it cannot be accidentally knocked off. At the same time, the device must be easily and quickly removable in order not to divert attention from the matter in hand.

Therefore an improved mounting device is required. Summary of the Invention

Embodiments of the present disclosure aim to improve upon mounting systems. In particular, embodiments are described which relate to the mounting of peripheral or small electronic devices, which can be held in a user's hand, to another location, which may be a further electronic device, such as a tablet computer. The mounting device of the present invention comprises various features which improve upon existing systems, including a combination of magnetic attachment and a cooperating male and female portions each having a surface cam structure which when operated by a user causes a lessening of the magnetic attraction in order that the mounted device may be more easily separated from the component to which it is mounted. A plurality of embodiments is described. A main embodiment includes a combination of a mechanical cam structure which provides both retaining features which prevent motion in undesired directions and a surface geometry which ensures a smooth transition between a coupled position and a position from which the two halves of a mounting device, and therefore the electronic devices attached or mounted on the mounting device may easily be separated. The transition is achieved by virtue of a ramp structure translating planar movement of the male and female portions of the mounting device relative to each other into motion perpendicular to the plane of movement. The planar movement may be translational or rotational. The cam structure or ramp structure is arranged such that when the male and female portions are in a coupled position, the male portion is aligned into a rotational orientation which is determined by the physical geometry of the male and female portions. In various embodiments, two or more rotational orientations of the male and female portions are possible in the coupled position.

As stated above, the mounting device is also provided with one or more magnets, which provide an attractive force between the portions, the magnetic force being sufficient to hold the male and female portions in the coupled position in any orientation. If the male and female portions are brought together in an alignment which is not one of the discrete alignments permitted by the geometry of the portions, the combination of the magnetic force pulling the portions together and the cam geometry may rotate the portions relative to each other to bring them into the correct alignment and the coupled position. The cam structure of the main embodiment features rotational symmetry, and permits the use of a very strong magnet, and a "twist to open" functionality which requires very little force from the user to separate the portions from the coupled position. This is because the twisting force provided by the user moves the male and female portions away from each other via the ramp structure

A further embodiment of the invention functions with a cam arrangement which is operated by translational motion, rather than rotational motion, as will be described further below.

The mounting device provides accurate positioning of the male and female portions and can be used in conjunction with the transfer of electrical current for charging, or further for electrical data signals for transfer between an electrical device and the peripheral electronic device which is mounted thereon. The charging can be provided through induction charging, or through electrical contacts which are positioned on the male and female portions so as to come into contact with each other when in the coupled position. The male and female portions comprise the two halves of the mounting device.

According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a mounting device, comprising a male portion; and a female portion, the male portion and the female portion being separably couplable to each other, a magnet, arranged to exert a magnetic force between the male and the female portions when they are brought into a coupled position so as to maintain a coupled arrangement, wherein the male portion and the female portion are arranged such that when they are brought together into the coupled position a coupling plane and a coupling surface are established, being characterised in that the surface geometry of the male portion and the female portion is arranged such that when in the coupled position, movement of the portions relative to each other in the coupling plane causes movement of the male and female portions relative to each other in a direction perpendicular to the coupling plane, thereby lessening the magnetic force between the male and female portions.

Optionally, the male and female portions are provided on a male and female planar base plate, respectively, the surface geometry of the male portion and female portion constitutes a cooperating cam structure, the cam structure arranged to translate relative motion of the male portion and the female portion in the coupling plane into motion perpendicular to the coupling plane. The arrangement of the mounting device provides a simple surface structure which by way of mechanical features translates motion in a plane to motion out of that plane, allowing for easier separation of two halves of a mounting structure.

Optionally, the cam structure has two or more orders of rotational symmetry, such that when the male and female portions are in the coupled position, the male portion may be aligned in one of two or more discrete rotational alignments. This allows for a user to present the two halves together in more than one rotational alignment in order to achieve the coupled position.

Optionally, the rotational movement of the male portion and the female portion relative to each other in the coupling plane causes the movement perpendicular to the coupling plane. The user simply has to twist one portion relative to the other, and the required motion perpendicular to the coupling plane is achieved.

Optionally, the cam structure of the male portion has an external geometry which comprises a torus having non circular cross section and a central axis perpendicular to the coupling plane. Optionally, the cross section of the torus has a height in the direction of the central axis which varies sinusoidally with angle around the torus. Optionally, the cam structure on the female portion comprises a recess for receiving the cam structure of the male portion, the recess having a geometry which corresponds to the external geometry of the cam structure of the male portion. The provision of a donut or torus shaped male portion and corresponding recess in the female portion, and a varying height means that the magnetic force will bias the portions into the coupled position. The sinusoidally varying height makes for a smooth motion for the rotational movement of the halves relative to each other.

Optionally, the cam structure on each of the male portion and the female portion comprises a circular track having a central axis perpendicular to the plane of the base plate and height which varies with angle about the axis such that the track crosses the plane of the base plate, so as to form at least one protrusion and recess in each of the male and female base plates. Optionally, the height varies sinusoidally with angle about the axis. Optionally, the cam structure on the male portion comprises a cylinder having its axis lying perpendicular to the coupling plane, and having a circumferential height which varies with angle about the axis. Optionally, the circumferential height comprises one or more step changes. A cylindrical protrusion with step changes in the circumferential height provides a structure which may only be released by rotational motion in one direction, the other direction being stopped by the edges formed by the step changes.

Optionally, the cam structure comprises a closed-loop track, the track protruding from the male portion, and being recessed into the female portion. Optionally, the outer edge of the track is in the formed of a rounded square or a squircle. It will be appreciated that many shapes for the recess/protrusion may be used, with ramps being formed in curved edges of the track, such that rotation causes the rounded edge ramp structures to create the required out- of-plane motion.

Optionally, the device comprises one or more magnets arranged in each of the male portion and female portion, the magnets in the respective male portion and female portion being arranged such that in the coupled position they are substantially aligned to provide the magnetic attraction to hold the mounting device together. Optionally, the magnets are arranged such that a rotation in the coupling plane of the male portion relative to the female portion from an orientation in which the male portion and female portion are coupled is sufficient to bring the magnets out of alignment, in order that the magnetic force between the male portion and the female portion is lessened. Optionally, the magnets are arranged to provide magnetic repulsion when the male portion is oriented in an orientation which is not one of the discrete rotational alignments. Optionally, the device comprises a correlated magnet. The arrangement of magnets is such that the magnets are aligned in one or more rotational orientations so as to hold the halves of the mounting device together in these orientations, when moved out of rotational alignment, the magnets no longer provide sufficient force to hold the halves together, and combined with the cam structure/loop track further separating the magnets this allows for a stronger magnet than previously usable to give a very strong coupling of the halves, along with the ability for the user to easily separate the halves.

Optionally, the movement in the coupling plane is a translational movement in a first direction. The motion may be a sliding motion in a direction of the plane . Optionally, movement in the coupling plane in a second direction opposite the first direction causes movement of the male and female portions relative to each other in a direction perpendicular to the coupling plane, thereby lessening the magnetic force between the male and female portions.

Optionally, the coupling surface crosses the coupling plane. Optionally, the coupling surface is formed by a ramp on the male portion having a non-zero angle to the coupling plane arranged to cooperate with a ramp on the female portion having the same non-zero angle to the coupling plane.

Optionally, the coupling surface is wavy in cross section. Wavy means having smooth rising and falling sections, in the manner of a curve or wave.

Optionally, the surface geometry of the male portion comprises a first ramp, angled with respect to the coupling plane, and the surface geometry of the female portion comprises a corresponding second ramp, a top surface of the second ramp arranged to mate with a top surface of the first ramp so as to form the coupling surface when the male portion and the female portion are in the coupling position.

Optionally, the ramp has a maximum angle with respect to the coupling plane of 45 degrees. Optionally, the ramp has an angle relative to the coupling plane of between zero and fifteen degrees. Optionally, the ramp has an angle relative to the coupling plane which varies along a length of the ramp from zero to fifteen degrees. The ramp is configured so that the motion of the two halves relative to each other is easy to achieve by the user. If the ramp is too steep the user will have to work relatively hard against the magnetic attraction between the halves.

Optionally, the first ramp and second ramp form part of a continuous loop track formed on each of the male portion and female portion, respectively. Optionally, the male portion is provided on male base plate and comprises a loop track which protrudes from the male base plate, and the female portion is provided on a female base plate and comprises a loop track which is correspondingly recessed into the female base plate so as to receive the male portion when the male portion and female portion are brought into the coupled position. Optionally, the loop track formed on the male portion and female portion has at least 2 orders of rotational symmetry. Optionally, the height of the loop track varies in a wave-like relation with angle around the track.

Optionally, the mounting device is for an electronic device. Optionally, the female portion comprises a flexible strap member.

Optionally, the mounting device further comprises a charging device, which allows for the passage of electrical current from a charging element in the male portion to a charging element in the female portion. Optionally, the charging device comprises spring loaded electrical contacts mounted on one of the male portion and female portion, which contact mounted electrical contacts located on the other of the male and female portion when the mounting device is in the coupled position.

Optionally, the charging device comprises one or more induction coils located in each of the male portion and female portion. Optionally, the male and female portions are provided with electrical contacts, the mounting device arranged such that when in the coupled position, the electrical contacts present on the male and female portions provide and electrical connection between the male and female portions. Optionally, the electrical connection between the male and female portions is arranged for the transfer of data between a first and second electronic device to which the male and female portions are mounted, respectively. The combination of the magnetic attraction and physical cam structure means that in certain embodiments described below, not only is the mounting device biased towards a coupled position, but also biased towards a charging and data transfer position. The user merely has to present the device and the magnetic force is strong enough to move the portions relative to each other - either rotating or sliding into the coupled position without the assistance of the user.

Further features and advantages of embodiments of the invention will be apparent from the appended claims. Brief Description of the Drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of an embodiment thereof, presented by way of example only, and by reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts, and wherein:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a tablet computing device having a peripheral electronic device mounted thereon;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of a male and female portion of a mounting device according to the present disclosure;

Figure 3 is a perspective view of the male portion of a mounting device according to the present disclosure;

Figure 4a is a cross section view of the male portion of Figure 3 taken along the line A- A';

Figure 4b is a cross section view of the male portion of Figure 3 taken along the line B-B';

Figure 5 is perspective view of a female portion of a mounting system in accordance the present disclosure;

Figure 6 is a perspective view of a male portion of a mounting assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 7a is a perspective view of a female portion of a mounting assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 7b is a perspective view of a female portion of a mounting assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 8 is an exploded view of a mounting device comprising a charging device, according to the present disclosure; Figure 9 is a perspective view of a mounting device according to the present disclosure;

Figure 10 is a perspective view of a peripheral device with attached mounting device according to the present disclosure;

Figure 1 la is a perspective view of a female portion of a mounting assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 1 lb is a perspective view of a female portion of a mounting assembly according to the present disclosure;

Figure 12a is a cross section of a mounting device showing male and female portions; and

Figure 12b is a cross section showing that the mounting device according to the present disclosure may comprise male and female portions having both male and female components.

Description of the Embodiments

The invention relates generally to the mounting device which may be applied to, or integrally formed in the housing for a hand held electronic device. Principal embodiments relate to applications of the mounting device to portable consumer electronic devices such as tablet computers and associated peripheral devices.

Embodiments of the invention will be discussed below with reference to the figures.

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a substantially planar device such as a tablet computer. A housing 101 is applied to the computing device such that it substantially covers a rear surface and the side surfaces of the device. Buttons 102 may be provided in the housing at appropriate portions to allow access to the physical controls which may be present on the housing of the tablet computing device. One or more apertures 103 may be provided in the housing 101 to allow for the function of a rearward facing optical camera or cameras which may be present on the rear face of the computing device. Strap handle 104 is provided integrally with the housing 101, and flexible padding 105 is provided for the comfort of a user. The dimensions of strap 104 and padding 105 are such that a user may pass their hand between the housing 101 and the padding 105 so as to attach the computing device and housing to their hand without the need for applying grip or any holding force. Housing 101 is provided with a female portion 106 of a mounting device. In the example shown in Figure 1, the plane of the rear face of housing is uninterrupted. That is to say, the female portion 106 is recessed into the housing, and there are no protrusions outward from the plane at the rear face. Peripheral device 107 may be mounted onto housing 101 through a male portion 108 of a mounting device, which is configured to be received into the female portion 106. It will be noted that stable mounting of the peripheral device 107 to housing 101 is achieved through the use of one or more magnets (not shown). The mounting device allows the user of the portable computing device to conveniently attach and detach a peripheral electronic device which is to be used in combination with the computing device. A combination of the mechanical structure of the mounting device along with the magnet force provided with the magnet means that the peripheral device is securely held in place on to housing 101 and is resistant to shear forces in the plane of the back plate of the housing 101. Shear forces may be applied between the tablet and peripheral by movement of the users hand while using the tablet, or in the case that the peripheral is knocked against a solid object.

Figure 2 shows the back plate 200 of a housing, which is to be applied to, for example, the tablet computing device. It could equally be applied to other electronic devices, such as computer monitors, laptop screens etc. Although back plate 200 is shown in rounded rectangular formation, it will be appreciated that back plate 200 could take any required shape. The female portion 201 of a mounting device is shown recessed into the plane of back plate 200. In the example shown in Figure 2, a track is recessed into the base plate 200. Track 201 is circular, and comprises a ramp which extends between deepest recess 202 and shallowest point 203. Male portion 211 of a mounting device is shown formed in a planar back plate 210. Back plate 210 is formed so as to be mounted, adhered, or otherwise attached to a peripheral device such as a card reader. Back plate 210 may form part of a housing into which a peripheral device may be securely placed. Although back plate 200 and back plate 210 are shown in the form of rounded rectangles, it will be appreciated that the shape or form of these plates may be varied without altering the function of the male and female portions.

The exterior geometry of male portion 211 corresponds to the geometry of the recess 201 such that male portion 211 may be received into female portion 201. Male portion 211 comprises a ramp section which extends between local maximum 212 having a maximum height from the base plane and the local minima 213 which extend the minimum height from the base plane.

Figure 3 shows a detail of the male portion 311 for mounting device according to the present invention. Male portion 311 comprises a protrusion from a base plane (not shown). Male portion 311 is in the form a circular track. Male portion 311 may equally be described as a torus having a non-circular cross section. The closed loop track or torus of male portion 311 has a central axis which lies perpendicular to the base plane, and in the example shown in Figure 3 comprises two orders of rotational symmetry. Male portion 311 comprises local maxima, at which point the height H of the protrusion from the base plane is greatest, and local minima at which point a height h for the protrusion is smallest from the base plane. Between local maxima 312 and local minima 313 is a ramp or sloping section 314. It can be seen that the loop track, or toroidal protrusion of male portion 311 has an outer radius Rl and inner radius R2.

Figure 4a shows a cross sectional detail of male portion 311 taken along line A -A' shown in Fig. 3. As can be seen in Fig. 4a, viewing the features from left to right in the figure, the outer surface of male portion 311 extends in parabolic curve from local maximum 312 through ramp section 314a to a local minimum 313 and down further along ramp section 314b to the second local maximum 312. The cross-section of the protrusion which forms male portion 311 can be seen to be semi-circular at points 312.

Figure 4b shows a cross-sectional detail of male portion 311 taken along the lines B - B'. Working from left to right in Figure 4b, and therefore sweeping out a 180 degree angle around the central axis of male portion 311, it can be seen that an outer our upper surface of protrusion increases in height h from local minimum 313 along ramp section 314 to local maximum 312, at height H. From local maximum 312 the height of the outer surface of protrusion decreases from maximum height H through ramp section 314 to local minimum 313 having a minimum height h above the base plane.

As can be shown from Figures 3, 4a, and 4b around a 360 degree swept arc of the axis the height of the protrusion of the male portion 311 varies sinusoidally. This means that the gradient of the ramp sections 314 is constantly varying. This means that local maxima 312 are located at mid-points between local minima 313 and vice versa. FIG. 5 shows a perspective detail of female portion 511 of the mounting device according to the present disclosure. Female portion is recessed into back plate 500. Black plate 500 is substantially planar and defines the base plane. Female portion 511 comprises a recessed track of varying depth. The track has a depth which varies from local maxima 512 through ramp sections 514 to local minima 513. At local maxima the recessed portion has a maximum depth H below the back plane of base plate 500. At local minima 513 the recess has a minimum depth h from the base plane. At local minima 513 the height below the base plane may be zero. The form of the recess of female portion 511, when viewed perpendicular to base plane 500, is that of a circular track.

The skilled person will appreciate that the recess of female portion 511 provides a negative space in back plate 500 which corresponds substantially to the exterior geometry of the protrusion of male portion 311. The male portion 311 and the female portion 511 of the mounting device may be brought together into a coupled relationship. Male portion 311 is brought into proximity of the female portion 511 in order that the protrusion and recess may be coupled into a mating engagement.

When the central axis of the male portion is closely aligned with that of the female portion the protrusion and the recess will co-operatingly engage. When the local maxima 312 of the protrusion are aligned with the local maxima 512 of the recess of female portion 511, a coupled position is formed. In the coupled position the base plane of the male portion 311 and the base plane of the base plate 500 converge so as to form a coupling plane.

When in the coupled position the outer surface of the male portion 311 is in contact with the inner surface of the recess of the female portion 511 so as to form a coupling surface.

When in the coupled position, substantially the entire surface of the protrusion of the male portion 311 is in contact with the surface of the recess of the female portion 511.

It will be appreciated that in the present embodiment shown in Figs. 3, 4a, 4b, and 5, the coupled position can be achieved at two rotational orientations of the male and female portions with respect to each other. A magnet is provided in one or both of the male and female portions, and arranged to exert a magnetic force between the male and female portions when they are brought into proximity of one another. The magnet or magnets are of sufficient strength to hold the male portion and female portion of the mounting device, to the extent that when the user holds the tablet shown in Fig. 1 either by its housing or by the strap, the tablet and peripheral device are held together in a mounted arrangement regardless of the orientation of the tablet.

When the male portion 311 and the female portion 511 are in the coupled position, it will be appreciated that rotational movement of the male portion and the female portion relative to each other in the coupling plane, that is to say in the plane of the base plate 500 or the base plane of the male portion, will cause the surfaces of ramp sections 314 and ramp sections 514 to move across each other, and this will cause movement of the male and female portions relative to each other in a direction which is perpendicular to the coupling plane. That is to say, as the male and female portions are rotated relative to each other, the plane of the base plate 500 and the base plane of the male portion will be separated from each other until minimum points 313 are aligned with minimum points 513. This means that the magnetic force which is exerted between the male and female portions is lessened due to the increased distance the magnet or magnets. At the point at which local maxima 312 are aligned with local minima 513 the base plane of base plate 500 is separated from the base plane of the male portion by a distance H. Distance H is selected so that the magnetic force between the male and female portions is diminished from that provided in the coupling position to the extent that the user is easily able to separate the male and female portions. The selection of heights h and H at the local maxima and minima define the overall gradient of the ramp sections.

The provision of two sides of a coupling surface whose height from the base plane varies sinusoidally with angle around a circular track means that the mounting device of the present embodiment allows a user to present the male portion to the female portion in virtually any alignment, and the action of the magnetic force between the male and female portions will cause the relative rotation of the male and female portions into the coupled position. That is to say, the combination of the mechanical formulation of the mounting device and the provision of the magnetic force biases the male and female portions into the coupled position when they are placed into proximity of each other. As can be seen in figures 4a and 4b, the cross section of the protrusion of the male portion varies between substantially semi-circular at the local maxima 312, and in the form of an elongated semi ellipse. The angle of the protrusion at the point at which it meets the base plane is substantially orthogonal to the base plane. As such the mechanical structure, or surface geometry, of the male portion and the corresponding female portion comprise a side wall portion which provides mechanical resistance to relative translational motion of the male and female portions relative to each other when in a coupling positon. In other words the mounting device provides resistance to shear forces between the male and female portions.

The circular track of the protrusion of the male portion and the recess of the female portion described in the foregoing may be provided in other variants, while still falling within the scope of the invention, as will be appreciated by the skilled person. The ramp sections may have a constant gradient between the local maxima and minima. The track may comprise more than two local maxima and minima, thereby providing further orders of rotational symmetry. The cross section of the track may be designed with square corners so as to provide greater resistance to shear forces between the male and female portions. The track itself may be in the form of an ellipse, squircle (or supercircle) or rounded square, while including the features of local maxima and minima linked by ramp sections.

The ramp portions of the embodiments described above optionally have an angle to the base plane or coupling plane of less than fifteen degrees. This means that the friction when twisting the male and female portions relative to each other is not significantly greater than an embodiment in which no ramp is provided, but the effect of the separation of the male and female portions is still provided so that the magnetic attractive force may easily be overcome. This means a stronger magnet may be used than in systems of the prior art, making the connection between the tablet device (or simply base plate on which female portion is provided) and the peripheral electronic device comprising the male portion stronger.

An alternative surface geometry according to the present disclosure is presented in Figure 6. Figure 6 shows a male portion of a mounting device. Male portion 601 comprises a cam structure in the form of a cylinder having a variable circumferential height above a base plane (not shown). The surface of the cylinder facing outward from the base plane comprises ramp sections 602 having ramp surfaces 605 which extend between a ramp peak 603 and a ramp bottom 604. At the ramp bottom 603, height H of the ramp maybe zero, that is to say that the ramp bottom may lie in the base plane. At the ramp peak 603 the height of the ramp is a distance H the cam structure shown in figure 6 has a central axis and for orders of rotational symmetry about that axis.

A female portion defining a negative space corresponding to the protrusion of male portion 601 may form a female portion of a mounting device according to the present disclosure. A magnet or magnets placed in either or both of the male and female portions will cause a magnetic attractive force between the two portions when they are brought into the proximity of one another. When the central axis of the male and female portions is aligned, the magnetic force provided by the magnet or magnets will cause ramp surfaces 605 and corresponding surfaces in the female portion to slide across one another until the male and female portions are in a coupled position wherein ramp peaks 603 are aligned with corresponding deepest points of the recess in the female portion. As explained in the embodiment above, the base plane from which male potion 601 protrudes is aligned with the base plane into which the female portion is recessed when the male and female portions are in the coupled position, forming a coupling plane. When in the coupled position the full surface area of ramp surfaces 605 is in contact with corresponding portions of the female portion and forms a coupling surface. The coupling surface comprises the tops of the ramp portions and the ramp walls, and these surfaces lie outside the coupling plane. The ramp portions of the coupling surface are at a non-zero angle to the coupling plane, and the ramp walls are substantially orthogonal to the coupling plane.

When in the coupled position, ramp walls 606 and ramp ends 607 will provide mechanical resistance to shear motion in the coupling plane as well as to rotational motion in one direction about the axis. The configuration of mounting devise shown in figure 6 is such that rotational motion of the male and female portions in the permitted direction away from the coupled position will separate the base plane of the male portion and the plane into which the female portion is recessed until a maximum height H and the base planes are separated to the extent of H the distance between the base planes should be such that a user is easily able to overcome the magnetic force present between the male and female portions.

The height of each ramp portion 602 varies from the ramp bottom to the ramp top in the form of a parabolic curve. This provides the advantage that initial rotation from the coupling position requires minimal effort since the rate of change of height of the ramp is low. As the male and female portions are rotated away from the coupled position and the magnetic attraction between the male and female portion lessens a more rapid rate of change in the height of the ramp provides a greater displacement of the male and female portions in the direction perpendicular to the coupling plane. This provides the user with a more even exertion of force when separating the male and female portions from the coupling positon.

Four ramp sections are shown in Fig. 6, providing the mounting device with four orders of rotational symmetry. A mounting device with two orders of rotational symmetry is envisaged. The ramp portions may have a constant gradient between the ramp bottom and ramp top.

In all of the embodiments of the invention described above, the construction of the male and female portions should be of a material which provides a low level of surface friction in order that the ramp sections of the male and female portions may slide across one another from the coupled position to the position from which the portions are separated.

Alternative arrangements of a female portion of a mounting device are shown in Figs. 7a and 7b. As can be seen in figures 7a and 7b, the female portions 701a and 701b are provided in base plates 700a, 700b. The female portions 701a, 701b comprise local maxima 702a, 702b at which point a recess in base plate 700a, 700b is deepest, and local minima 703 a, 703b at which point the recess is shallowest. At local minima the recess can optionally in fact lie in the plane of the base plates 700a, 700b. Ramp surfaces 704a, 704b link local maxima 702a, 702b and the local minima 703 a, 703b. Ramp surfaces 704a, 704b have a varying gradient with respect to the plane of the base plates 700a, 700b. It will be appreciated that female portions 701a, 701b are for use with corresponding male portions comprising protrusions which substantially correspond to the form of the recesses formed by female portions 701a, 701b.

Figure 8 shows an exploded view of a mounting device according to embodiment of the present disclosure. Housing comprising a back plate 800 is provided with a recess 801 for receiving the components of a female portion 805f of a mounting device. The male portion of a mounting device 805m is also shown. The device shown in figure 8 comprises a combination of a mechanical mounting structure, magnetic attachment, and inductive charging. Male portion 805m is provided with an induction coil 810m connected to a back plate 811. An electrical connection is provided between induction coil 810m and an electrical connector 813, via cable 812. Likewise, the female portion 805f is provided with an induction coil 81 Of which is connected to a power source associated with the housing comprising base plate 800. When the housing is applied to a tablet, for example, induction coil 81 Of may be electrically linked with the battery device provided in the tablet. Magnets 830m, 830f are provided to provide a magnetic force between the respective male and female portions 805m, 805f. In the embodiment shown in figure 8, magnets 830m and 830f are correlated magnets, also known as polymagnets. Magnets 830m and 830f shown in figure 8 are cylinders provided with four polar quadrants. Magnets 830m, 830f each have two north and two south polar quadrants, meaning that magnets 830m and 830f have two orders of rotational symmetry. When the north poles of magnet 830m are brought into alignment with the south poles of magnet 830f, magnets 830m, 830f provide a magnetic attractive force between the male and female portions 805f, 805m. Correlated magnets can be provided which provide specific magnetic fields which vary around a rotational axis. Equally a magnetic array can be provided. One embodiment comprises a magnetic array in which there are magnets which create the field described above with four polar quadrants. In this embodiment when the male and female portion are in alignment (as in the coupled position) the poles attract. The alignment has to be < 1/2 phase out of alignment (<l/4 phase in each rotational direction - in this embodiment ±<45°) such that the attractive magnetic forces overlap to be >0 for it to pull the male and female portions together. A rotation of greater than 45 degrees causes a repulsive force which assists the user in separating the two halves.

When male portion 805m is rotated or twisted with respect to female portion 805f, magnets 830m, 830f will also rotate relative to one another, and when a 90° rotation is achieved, the north poles and south poles of magnet 830m will be aligned with the respective north poles and south poles of magnet 830f and a repulsive magnetic force will exist between male and female portions 805m, 805f. Cooperating male and female cam structures 820m, 820f enclose the magnets 830m, 830f and induction coils 810m, 81 Of in the respective male and female portions 805m, 805f. Cam structures 820m, 820f are provided with the circular track or cam structure as described in relation to any of the embodiments outlined above, so as to provide a mechanical separation of the magnets during the rotation of the portions away from the coupled position. Plate 811 attaches to a peripheral device (not shown) by way of adhesive pad 840. The adhesive of adhesive pad 840 must be of a strength so as to provide a semi-permanent fixing of the mounting device to the peripheral.

When male and female portions are brought together into a coupled position, electrical current passing through induction coil 81 Of may be transferred to induction coil 810m, so as to pass charge from a device housed in housing to the peripheral device attached to male portion 805m via charging cable 812.

Figure 9 shows a male portion of a mounting device according to the embodiment of the present disclosure. Figure 9 is a housing for a peripheral device comprising a base plate 900 having a cam structure thereon 911 located thereon. The cam structure 911 is in the form of a circular track; however it will be appreciated that any of the variations previously described with reference to the previous embodiments of this disclosure could equally be provided on base plate 900, either in the form of a circular on non-circular track, or other cam structure providing the desired translation of motion in the coupling plane into motion perpendicular to that plane.

Also provided on base plates are electrical contacts 901. Electrical contacts 901 take the form of spring loaded metal lugs or pins, commonly known as pogo pins. Electrical contacts 901 are oriented in such a way that in the coupled position they are aligned and in contact with corresponding contacts located in the female portion of the mounting device. The rotational symmetry of the cam structure ensures that the corresponding contacts (positive negative earth, for example) are brought into alignment in the coupled position, and that the correct configuration of contacts is not a possible position. A provision of the combination of the ramped cam structure and magnetic attractive force between the male and female portions means that the male and female portions are biased into a position where the contacts are in contact and in which charging can take place.

Therefore, in use, when the user brings the male portion into proximity of the female portion, the magnetic attractive force between the male and female portions will pull the male and female portions together, depending on the precise rotational alignment between the two portions. In the embodiment described above, the user may apply the male and female portions together with a ±<45° error in alignment and the combination of the magnets and physical ramp structure will cause auto-alignment. That is, the ramps of the cam structure will slide across each other, causing the relative rotation of the portions with respect to each other, bringing them towards the coupled position. The mounting device is therefore not only biased towards a position of maximum stability, in which only a force in a permitted direction may separate the two portions, but also biased towards a position in which the electrical contacts connect for charging. In this way the user is not required to perform any significant alignment of the male and female portions with respect to each other, the alignment is effectively automatically carried out by the combination of the mechanical structure, or surface geometry, and the magnetic attraction between the portions.

Further or alternative electrical contacts can be optionally provided in order that data, as well as power, may be transferred between the mounting device and the peripheral device through the male and female portions, of the mounting device or tablet computer.

Data transfer may take place through a breakout of the pins from a USB device. Similar to the embodiment shown in Fig. 8, an electrical connector is provided for connecting to the peripheral device. This may be a mini USB 2.0, 3.0 or another configuration. The electrical connection is linked to the electrical contacts present on the male portion. These pins provide the standard electrical contacts according to the particular connector required; in the case of USB 2.0, for example, the contacts required are two for power (V B us and GND), and two for differential data signals (generally labelled as D+ and D-). The form of the ramp structure is adjusted such that the coupled position is only achievable in one rotational orientation, in order that the electrical contacts are correctly aligned to allow for both charging and data transfer. As will be apparent to the person skilled in the art, the electrical contacts on the female portion are electrically connected to a connection provided in or attached to the housing into which a tablet (or other electronic device) is to be housed, to access the electrical data/charging port provided on the tablet.

Figure 10 shows perspective view of peripheral device having attached thereto a combined mounting and charging device according to the present disclosure. Peripheral device 1000 has a mounting device 1001 attached to its rear face. In the embodiment shown in figure 10 mounting device 1001 is attached to an electronic device 1000 via a double sided adhesive pad. Mounting device 1001 comprises a cam structure on its surface which comprises local maxima 1002 linked to the local minima 1003 through the ramp structures 1004. The cam structure of mounting device 1001 has 4 orders of rotational symmetry. The cam structure comprises 4 curved spherical domes. At the portion of the dome on the apex of the domes is located electrical contact 1011. Cable mount 1012 houses an electrical conducting cable for transmitting electrical current between electrical contacts 1011 and electrical connector 1013 electrical contact 1013 so that the pin can be inserted into the power charging or data connection present on the peripheral electronic device 1000. A magnet (not shown) is provided inside the housing of mounting device 1001, to provide an attractive force between the male portion 1001 shown in figure 10 and a corresponding female portion to which it is to be mounted.

Figure 11a shows a female portion mounting device according to an embodiment of the present disclosure. While the previous embodiments have required a twist or rotation to separate the magnet or magnets present in the male and female portions, the mounting device in Fig. 11 has a surface geometry which requires a translational motion, or sliding motion of the portions relative to each other to disengage them from a coupled position. Figure 11 shows a female portion including a recess from a base plane. Two ramps 1104a extend into the base plane from opposing ends, and meet at a local minimum 1103 a. Ramps 1104a have side wall 1105a. Magnets 1106a is located either side of the line joining the bottom of the two ramps 1104a. It will be clear to the skilled person that a corresponding male portion is to be provided having an exterior surface geometry which matches that of the interior of the recess in female portion 1101a. Opposing magnets may be provided on the apex of the ramp portions of the exterior of the male portion which are arranged to attract those of the female portion. In use, the protrusion of the male portion is brought into alignment with the recess of female portion 1101a and the magnetic attraction between the male and female portions will pull them into a coupled position. A sliding or translational movement in the plane of the base plate into which female portion is recessed will cause one of the two magnets in male portion to move across a magnet in the female portion having the same polarity, which will provide a repulsive force, thereby assisting the detachment of the two halves of the mounting device.

Figure l ib shows an alternative arrangement of one half of a mounting device which is operated via a translational motion. Female portion of mounting device 1101b comprises a series of local minima 1102b at which point the recess is shallowest, linked to a plurality of local maxima 1103b at which point the recess is deepest into the base plane. Linking the minima 1102b and maxima 1103b are curved ramp portions 1104b. In other words, a recess is formed in a base plane, the recess having side walls which are in the form of a repeating wave pattern. A corresponding wave portion is provided on the male portion of the mounting device (not shown). Again, one or more magnets may be provided so as to bias the male and female portions into a coupled position. When a translation or sliding motion of the male and female portions takes place the magnets are arranged to provide a repulsive force to assist the separation of the two halves of the mounting device.

Although not shown in Figs. 11a and l ib, the ability to pass charge between the male and female portions of the mounting device may be provided, so as to provide charge to the electronic peripheral device. This may take the form of induction coils provided below the surface geometry of each of the male and female portions, or, as described above, in the form of electrical contacts such as pogo pins which are aligned when the male and female portions are brought into the coupled position.

The embodiments described above have included reference to a pair of corresponding magnets in the male and female portions. It will be appreciated that one magnet can be optionally installed and a corresponding piece of ferromagnetic material so as to provide the magnetic attractive force between the male and the female portions. The male and female portions have been described in relation to an electronic device and peripheral device, respectively, and it will be clear that the male and female portions can be present on either device.

Figures 12a and 12b demonstrate the fact that the coupling surface may cross the coupling plane. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 12a the male portion 1211a has a cam structure which has a surface which will form the coupling surface which lies out of the plane of the base plate (which ideally is the coupling plane, in the case where the protrusion of the male portion from its base plate is matched identically by the recess formed in the female portion 1201a). In Fig. 12b the male and female portions 1201b, 1211b both comprise protrusions and recesses, meaning that the coupling plane traverses the base plane. In the case of the embodiments having rotational symmetry it is feasible that the male and female portions are identical - that is to say they each comprise the same number of recesses and protrusions. This means that the manufacture of the portions can be simplified, since only one arrangement is required. The mounting device may be made of plastic. It may be moulded, or otherwise formed. It may be of one-piece construction, or the cams may be attached to the base plate.