US Patent 8,491,312 Flexible Magnetic Interconnects

Abstract

A flexible magnetic interconnect is disclosed. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes a module having a recess therein. A magnetic structure is moveable within the recess and a flexible circuit cooperates with the module to retain the magnetic structure within the recess. Movement of the magnetic structure is caused by magnetic attraction between the magnetic structure and an external magnetic structure. The flexible circuit includes a compliant contact, which changes shape by movement of the magnetic structure.

Claims

1. A system comprising:

a first module including at least one first magnetic structure, a frame and a circuit comprising at least one compliant contact that has a shape that is changed by movement of the first magnetic structure wherein the first magnetic structure is moveable substantially within the frame of the first module;

a second module including at least one second magnetic structure and a circuit, wherein a magnetic attraction between the first magnetic structure and the second magnetic structure creates movement of the first magnetic structure and causes the compliant contact of the first module to change shape.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the circuit of the first module and circuit of the second module are electrically connected by the magnetic force.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the first module includes at least one element that radiates electromagnetic energy.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the first module includes a light guide.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a material that provides a heat sink for electronic components.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a flexible material.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the frame changes shape through magnetic attraction between the first magnetic structures and the second magnetic structures.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein compliant contacts are arranged in a substantially planar array.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein the second magnetic structure comprises a substantially planar element.

10. The system of claim 8, wherein one first magnetic structure is associated with each compliant contact.

11. The system of claim 8, wherein the substantially planar array of compliant contacts does not possess rotational symmetry.

12. A system comprising:

a first module including a first magnetic structure and a circuit comprising;

a compliant contact that has a shape that is changed by movement of the first magnetic structure, wherein the first magnetic structure is moveable substantially within the first module;

a substrate including a second magnetic structure, wherein a magnetic attraction between the first magnetic structure and the second magnetic structure creates movement of the first magnetic structures and causes the compliant contact of the first module to change shape.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein an electrical connection is formed between the circuit of the first module and the circuit of the substrate.

14. The system of claim 12, wherein the substrate includes a membrane switch.

15. The system of claim 12, wherein the first module includes a light source.

16. A method comprising the steps of: providing a first module including a first magnetic structure and a first circuit comprising a compliant contact that has a shape that is changed by movement of the first magnetic structure, wherein the first magnetic structure is moveable substantially within the first module; applying a magnetic force, thereby causing the first magnetic structure to move and the compliant contact to change shape.

17. The method of claim 16 in which the magnetic force is provided by a second module including a second magnetic structure and a second circuit.

18. The method of claim 17 in which an electrical connection is formed between the compliant contact of the first module and the second circuit.

19. The method of claim 18 in which the movement of the first magnetic structure activates a membrane switch in the second module.

20. The method of claim 19 in which electrical current flows to the first module from the second circuit through the membrane switch.