(19)
(11)EP 3 229 317 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 17163409.0

(22)Date of filing:  28.03.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H01Q 1/27(2006.01)

(54)

COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE WITH CONDUCTIVE SURFACE COUPLED TO HUMAN BODY

KOMMUNIKATIONSVORRICHTUNG

DISPOSITIF DE COMMUNICATIONS


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 05.04.2016 US 201615090933

(43)Date of publication of application:
11.10.2017 Bulletin 2017/41

(73)Proprietor: NXP B.V.
5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)

(72)Inventor:
  • Kerselaers, Anthony
    Redhill, Surrey RH1 1QZ (GB)

(74)Representative: Miles, John Richard 
NXP SEMICONDUCTORS Intellectual Property Group Abbey House 25 Clarendon Road
Redhill, Surrey RH1 1QZ
Redhill, Surrey RH1 1QZ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2002 030 630
US-A1- 2010 019 982
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present specification relates to systems, methods, apparatuses, devices, articles of manufacture and instructions for communications. US 2010/0019982 discloses a communication apparatus that includes a capacitive coupling electrode which is capacitively coupled with an adjacent conductor or an adjacent dielectric and which operates the conductor or the dielectric as an antenna element for electromagnetic waves of a predetermined frequency. US 2002/0030630 discloses an antenna for a portable radio communication device that is constructed with a conductive shield plate provided in a casing made of resin and shaped to be worn on a human body.

    SUMMARY



    [0002] According to an embodiment, a communications device is defined in independent claim 1.

    [0003] In another embodiment, the conductive surface has a set of planar dimensions that are less than 10% of a wavelength of the broadcast signals that the conductive surface is configured to receive.

    [0004] In another embodiment, the conducting surface includes at least one of: a metalized plastic foil; a copper material, or copper material attached to a flexible dielectric material.

    [0005] In another embodiment, further comprising additional conducting surfaces configured to receive a second set of bio-antenna modulated broadcast signals and pass the second set of broadcast signals to the broadcast receiver.

    [0006] In another embodiment, the set of broadcast signals are included in at least one of: an FM radio band; a set frequencies ranging from 87.5 MHz to 108.0 MHz; or a near field communications (NFC) frequency band.

    [0007] In another embodiment, further comprising a filter coupled between the conducting surface and the broadcast receiver and configured to pass the set of broadcast band frequencies received by the conducting surface to the broadcast receiver.

    [0008] In another embodiment, the filter is at least one of: a tuning circuit or a matching circuit.

    [0009] In another embodiment, the broadcast receiver is an FM radio receiver.

    [0010] In another embodiment, the coil is at least one of: a planar air coil, or a wire wound on a ferrite rod.

    [0011] In another embodiment, the coil is tuned to the NFC circuit's operating frequency.

    [0012] In another embodiment, the NFC circuit is configured to be coupled to a set of nodes in a body area network; and the NFC circuit is configured to communicate with the set of nodes using near-field magnetic induction signals.

    [0013] In another embodiment, further comprising a blocking filter coupled between the conducting surface and the broadcast receiver; and the blocking filter is configured to block a set of NFC circuit signals from reaching the broadcast receiver.

    [0014] In another embodiment, the blocking filter is at least one of: a high-pass filter, low-pass filter, a notch filter, or a broadband bandpass filter.

    [0015] In another embodiment, further comprising a first and second NFC device; wherein the communications device is configured to communicate a set of demodulated broadcast signals to the first NFC device; and wherein the first NFC device is configured to communicate the set of demodulated broadcast signals to the second NFC device.

    [0016] In another embodiment, the communications device is embedded in at least one of: an earbud, a smartwatch; a medical implant; a smartphone, an item of clothing; a cellular phone, a portable radios, a wearable product, a body attached communication node, a chip, a semiconductor device, or a radio IC.

    [0017] In another embodiment, the communications device is configured to receive at least one of: a magnetic induction signal; a near-field signal; a cellular signal, a Wi-Fi signal, a Bluetooth signal.

    [0018] The above discussion is not intended to represent every embodiment or every implementation within the scope defined in the claims. The Figures and Detailed Description that follow also exemplify various examples and embodiments.

    [0019] Various embodiments may be more completely understood in consideration of the following Detailed Description in connection with the accompanying Drawings, in which:

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0020] 

    Figure 1 is a first example mobile communications device.

    Figure 2 is a second example mobile communications device.

    Figure 3 is a first example set of measurements.

    Figure 4 is a third example mobile communications device.

    Figure 5 is a first example electrical circuit for the mobile communications device.

    Figure 6 is a second example electrical circuit for the mobile communications device.

    Figure 7 is an embodiment of a mobile communications device, according to the disclosure of the invention.

    Figure 8 is a second example set of measurements.



    [0021] While the disclosure is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that other embodiments, beyond the particular embodiments described, are possible as well, falling within the scope of the appended claims.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0022] Body wearable devices are a type of mobile device which can be either carried or worn by its user. Such devices may include: cellular phones, portable radios, wearable products, body attached communication nodes, and the like, perhaps designed to receive multiple communications bands at different frequencies, including: cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and broadcast.

    [0023] Some body wearable devices are able to communicate with each other as part of a body area network, where near fields are used to communicate between devices. Near field induction can operate in a frequency range between 8 and 30 MHz.

    [0024] The hardware necessary for these devices to receive communications varies.

    [0025] Figure 1 is a one example of mobile communications apparatus 100. The system includes a communications device 102, a set of headset wires 104 (i.e. an antenna for receiving RF and baseband audio signals), and a headset 106, wherein the headset 106 is being worn by a user 108.

    [0026] Broadcast reception is provided by the set of headset wires 104, which functions as an antenna for an FM broadcast band (e.g. 87.5 to 108MHz). The headset wires 104 have a length greater than or equal to a quarter wave length of the broadcast reception frequency.

    [0027] In this example, a cellular phone including the mobile communications apparatus 100 would require attachment of a relative long wire to be able to receive the broadcast stations. In such an example if someone wants to listen to a FM station at 98 MHz then the shortest wire that can be considered has a quarter wave length (e.g. about 76 cm). In practice the antenna function can be combined with the headset wire which is roughly 90 cm long. Such an example requires the headset wire to be present for broadcast reception.

    [0028] Figure 2 is an example mobile communications device 200. The device 200 includes a display 202, a broadcast receiver 204, an integrated broadcast antenna 206.

    [0029] The antenna 206 converts an electric field wirelessly received from of a broadcast transmitter (not shown) to an electric signal that can be further amplified and demodulated by the receiver 204. The receiver 204 includes circuits for the reception of broadcast stations.

    [0030] Since the antenna 206 is integrated into the device 200, the antenna's 206 length is restricted and functions as a less efficient antenna than the headset wires 104 of the mobile communications apparatus 100.

    [0031] While the antenna's 206 length is very short, compared with the wavelength, the antenna 206 would still have a length on the order of 10 cm, which may still be rather longer than ideal for some body worn device applications, such as a smartwatch. Also, due to the antenna's 206 shorter length the received broadcast signal strength is strongly attenuated.

    [0032] For example a standard reference dipole antenna will receive 975 µVolts when it is placed at a location where the signal's field strength is 1 mV/meter (at a frequency of 98 MHz). However with the antenna length of 10 cm, the received signal will be only 50 µVolts when it is placed at a location where the field strength is 1 mV/meter (at a frequency of 98 MHz). This is a 25.8 dB signal level reduction.

    [0033] Figure 3 is a first example set of measurements 300 of a bio-antenna received signal strength 302 over a range of signal frequencies. In the example set of measurements 300 the data points are for a human body bio-antenna. Similar data points can be achieved when the bio-antenna is attached to various other biological structures.

    [0034] The range of signal frequencies 304 (i.e. x-axis) presents a received frequency in logarithmic scale and the bio-antenna received signal strength 302 (i.e. y-axis) presents the relative strength in dB.

    [0035] These particular measurements were collected from a male person of 176 cm height. There is a resonance frequency at 60 MHz. The -10 dB bandwidth is found to be between 35 and 100 MHz. The resonance frequency can be a bit different between persons since it is dependent on height of the person. However it can be seen from this figure that efficient reception of broadcast signals is possible in the FM frequency band, wherein the human body acts as a bio-antenna.

    [0036] Figure 4 is a third example mobile communications device 400. Broadcast signals 402 are transmitted by a broadcast transmitter (not shown). The bio-antenna 404 (e.g. a user, a human body, an animal, a tree, a plant, etc., alive or not) captures a portion of the broadcast signals 402, as shown in Figure 3.

    [0037] A conducting surface 406 (forms a capacitor) is either affixed or placed proximately to the bio-antenna 404, thereby capacitively coupling the surface 406 with the bio-antenna 404. In certain examples the conducting surface 406 conforms to a contour of the bio-antenna 404 to which it is attached. The conducting surface 406 is in one example a metalized plastic foil with a surface area of 2 by 3 cm2.

    [0038] In one example, the conducting surface 406 is attached to a portion of the bio-antenna 404 such as an arm. In other examples, more than one conducting surface 406 can be attached and/or placed proximate to the bio-antenna 404.

    [0039] The conducting surface 406 is coupled to a filter 408. The filter 408 passes a set of broadcast band frequencies received by the conducting surface 406 to a broadcast receiver 410 (e.g. an FM radio receiver). The filter 408, in various examples, can be tuned to a narrower portion of the broadcast band and/or perform additional impedance matching between the combination bio-antenna 404 and conducting surface 406 impedance and the broadcast receiver's 410 input impedance.

    [0040] Thus the third example mobile communications device 400 couples the broadcast signals 402 to the broadcast receiver 410.

    [0041] Figure 5 is a first example electrical circuit 500 for the mobile communications device 400. A capacitive coupling 504, formed from the conducting surface 406 in Figure 4, connects a bio-antenna 502 to a tuning circuit 506. The tuning circuit 506 includes an inductor and a capacitor, which in some examples are adjustable.

    [0042] The tuning circuit 506 is coupled to a low noise amplifier 508. Together the tuning circuit 506 and the low noise amplifier 508 represent the filter 408 in Figure 4. The low noise amplifier 508 is connected to a broadcast receiver 510 (e.g. radio system). The tuning circuit 506 and low noise amplifier 508 in one example are adjusted by the broadcast receiver 510.

    [0043] Figure 6 is a second example electrical circuit 600 for the mobile communications device 400. A capacitive coupling 604, formed from the conducting surface 406 in Figure 4, connects a bio-antenna 602 to a matching circuit 606.

    [0044] The matching circuit 606 includes multiple inductors and capacitors, which in some examples are adjustable. The matching circuit 606 together with the bio-antenna 602 form a bandpass filter for a preselected portion of the broadcast frequency band. In another example the formed bandpass filter covers the entire FM broadcast frequency band.

    [0045] The matching circuit 606 is coupled to a low noise amplifier 608. Together the matching circuit 606 and the low noise amplifier 608 represent the filter 408 in Figure 4. The low noise amplifier 608 is connected to a broadcast receiver 610 (e.g. radio system). The matching circuit 606 and low noise amplifier 608 in one example are adjusted by the broadcast receiver 610.

    [0046] Figure 7 shows an embodiment of a mobile communications device 700 according to the invention. In this embodiment, the device 700 for broadcast reception is combined with a near field communication circuit and forms part of a body area network.

    [0047] In one embodiment, the device's 700 broadcast reception functionality is integrated in a smart watch that is also able to use NFC to communicate with other wearable devices in the body area network. The demodulated broadcast radio audio or data can then use NFC to communicate this demodulated information to other NFC enabled devices.

    [0048] A conducting surface 704 forms a capacitive coupling between a bio-antenna 702 and a filter 706. The conductive surface 704 can be constructed from copper material attached to a flexible dielectric material. The thickness of the copper material can be for example 0.035 mm. The surface area of the conducting surface 704 in one example is about 3 cm x 2 cm.

    [0049] The filter 706 in one embodiment is a tuning circuit and in another embodiment is a matching circuit. The tuning circuit includes an inductor and a capacitor, which in some embodiments are adjustable. The matching circuit includes multiple inductors and capacitors, which in some embodiments are also adjustable.

    [0050] The filter 706 is coupled to a low noise amplifier 708. The low noise amplifier 708 is connected to a broadcast receiver 710 (e.g. radio system). The filter 706 and low noise amplifier 708 in one embodiment are adjusted by the broadcast receiver 710.

    [0051] In this embodiment, a coil 712 couples the conductive surface 704 to a near field communication (NFC) circuit 714. The coil 712 in one embodiment can be a planar air coil having a 3.6 µHenry inductance. Alternatively, the coil 712 could be wound on a ferrite rod with a size of 2 mm diameter and 6 mm length. The coil 712 can be tuned to the NFC circuit's 714 operating frequency (e.g. 10.6 MHz) using a capacitor bank, resonance circuit and resistor bank integrated into the NFC circuit 714.

    [0052] The NFC circuit 714 may establish transmit and receive communications with one or more other NFC devices attached to the bio-antenna 702 or positioned nearby. NFC is known as a communications system which uses magnetic and/or electric induction.

    [0053] If the NFC circuit 714 uses electric induction, a portion of the NFC circuit's 714 electric near field may be generated and/or captured by the conductive surface 704.

    [0054] Broadcast reception can be in the FM frequency band from 88 to 108 MHz while the NFC circuit 714 can range between 8 and 15 MHz (10.6 MHz is a typical NFC operational frequency. Thus both the NFC and broadcast portions of the device 700 can operate concurrently.

    [0055] However, to prevent interference between the mobile communications device's 700 broadcast reception functions and NFC transmit functions, the filter 706 includes a blocking filter (not shown) at the NFC circuit's 714 frequencies of operation. The blocking filter can be a high-pass filter, low-pass filter or notch filter.

    [0056] The blocking filter reduces or prevents the NFC circuit 714 from injecting the NFC circuit's 714 transmit voltage signals into the low noise amplifier 708 used by the broadcast receiver 710.

    [0057] In one embodiment, each of the elements described above, except the bio-antenna 702, are integrated into a single chip 716. The chip 716 may itself be embedded in a smartwatch (not shown) or other body wearable device or item (e.g. helmet, clothing, bandage, etc.).

    [0058] Figure 8 is a second example set of measurements 800 of a bio-antenna received signal strength 802 over a range of signal frequencies 804. In this example 800 the mobile communications device 400 includes the second example electrical circuit 600.

    [0059] The example set of measurements 800 displays multiple broadcast reception (i.e. FM transmitter) signals. The measurements were taken in an indoor setting, where signal levels are typically significantly attenuated as compared to an outdoor setting.

    [0060] In this specification, embodiments have been presented in terms of a selected set of details. However, a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand that many other embodiments may be practiced which include a different selected set of these details. It is intended that the following claims cover all possible embodiments.


    Claims

    1. A communications device (700), comprising:

    a bio-antenna conducting surface (704) configured to receive a set of bio-antenna modulated broadcast signals;

    wherein the conducting surface is configured to receive the set of bio-antenna modulated broadcast signals through a capacitively coupling;

    a broadcast receiver (710) coupled to the conducting surface;

    a coil (712) and a near field communication circuit (714), wherein the coil couples the near field communication circuit to the conducting surface;

    wherein the conducting surface is configured to:

    pass the broadcast signals to the broadcast receiver; and

    transmit and receive near field communication signals.


     
    2. The device (700) of claim 1:
    wherein the conductive surface (704) has a set of planar dimensions that are less than 10% of a wavelength of the broadcast signals that the conductive surface is configured to receive.
     
    3. The device (700) of claim 1 or claim 2:
    wherein the conducting surface (704) includes at least one of: a metalized plastic foil; or a copper material, or copper material attached to a flexible dielectric material.
     
    4. The device (700) of any preceding claim:
    further comprising additional conducting surfaces configured to receive a second set of bio-antenna modulated broadcast signals and pass the second set of broadcast signals to the broadcast receiver (710).
     
    5. The device (700) of any preceding claim:
    wherein the set of broadcast signals are included in at least one of: an FM radio band; a set frequencies ranging from 87.5 MHz to 108.0 MHz; or a near field communications (NFC) frequency band.
     
    6. The device (700) of any preceding claim:
    further comprising a filter (706) coupled between the conducting surface (704) and the broadcast receiver (710) and configured to pass the set of broadcast band frequencies received by the conducting surface to the broadcast receiver.
     
    7. The device (700) of claim 6:
    wherein the filter (706) is at least one of: a tuning circuit or a matching circuit.
     
    8. The device (700) of any preceding claim:
    wherein the broadcast receiver (710) is an FM radio receiver.
     
    9. The device (700) of claim 1:
    wherein the coil (712) is at least one of: a planar air coil, or a wire wound on a ferrite rod.
     
    10. The device (700) of claim 1 or 9:
    wherein the coil (712) is tuned to the NFC circuit's operating frequency.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kommunikationsvorrichtung (700), umfassend:

    eine leitende Bioantennen-Oberfläche (704), konfiguriert zum Empfangen eines Satzes von Bioantennen-modulierten Rundfunksignalen;

    wobei die leitende Oberfläche konfiguriert ist zum Empfangen des Satzes von Bioantennen-modulierten Rundfunksignalen durch eine kapazitive Kopplung;

    einen Rundfunkempfänger (710), gekoppelt an die leitende Oberfläche;

    eine Spule (712) und eine Nahfeldkommunikationsschaltung (714), wobei die Spule die Nahfeldkommunikationsschaltung an die leitende Oberfläche koppelt;

    wobei die leitende Oberfläche konfiguriert ist zum:

    Weiterleiten der Rundfunksignale an den Rundfunkempfänger; und

    Übertragen und Empfangen von Nahfeldkommunikationssignalen.


     
    2. Vorrichtung (700) nach Anspruch 1:
    wobei die leitende Oberfläche (704) einen Satz von planaren Abmessungen aufweist, die weniger als 10 % einer Wellenlänge der Rundfunksignale, die die leitende Oberfläche zu empfangen konfiguriert ist, betragen.
     
    3. Vorrichtung (700) nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2:
    wobei die leitende Oberfläche (704) mindestens eines von Folgendem enthält: eine metallisierte Kunststofffolie; oder ein Kupfermaterial oder an ein flexibles dielektrisches Material angebrachtes Kupfermaterial.
     
    4. Vorrichtung (700) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche:
    ferner umfassend zusätzliche leitende Oberflächen, konfiguriert zum Empfangen eines zweiten Satzes von Bioantennen-modulierten Rundfunksignalen und zum Weiterleiten des zweiten Satzes von Rundfunksignalen an den Rundfunkempfänger (710).
     
    5. Vorrichtung (700) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche:
    wobei der Satz von Rundfunksignalen in mindestens einem von Folgendem enthalten ist: ein FM-Funkband; ein Satz von Frequenzen, die von 87,5 MHz bis 108,0 MHz reichen; oder ein Nahfeldkommunikation- bzw. NFC-Frequenzband.
     
    6. Vorrichtung (700) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche:
    ferner umfassend ein Filter (706), gekoppelt zwischen der leitenden Oberfläche (704) und dem Rundfunkempfänger (710) und konfiguriert zum Weiterleiten eines Satzes von Rundfunkbandfrequenzen, empfangen durch die leitende Oberfläche des Rundfunkempfängers.
     
    7. Vorrichtung (700) nach Anspruch 6:
    wobei das Filter (706) mindestens eines von Folgendem ist: eine Abstimmschaltung oder eine Anpassungsschaltung.
     
    8. Vorrichtung (700) nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche:
    wobei der Rundfunkempfänger (710) ein FM-Radioempfänger ist.
     
    9. Vorrichtung (700) nach Anspruch 1:
    wobei die Spule (712) mindestens eines von Folgendem ist: eine planare Luftspule oder ein um einen Ferritstab gewickelter Draht.
     
    10. Vorrichtung (700) nach Anspruch 1 oder 9:
    wobei die Spule (712) auf die Betriebsfrequenz der NFC-Schaltung abgestimmt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de communication (700), comprenant :

    une surface conductrice (704) de bio-antenne configurée pour recevoir un ensemble de signaux de radiodiffusion modulés de bio-antenne ;

    la surface conductrice étant configurée pour recevoir l'ensemble de signaux de radiodiffusion modulés de bio-antenne au moyen d'un couplage capacitif ;

    un récepteur de radiodiffusion (710) couplé à la surface conductrice ;

    une bobine (712) et un circuit de communication en champ proche (714), la bobine couplant le circuit de communication en champ proche à la surface conductrice ;

    la surface conductrice étant configurée pour :

    transmettre les signaux de radiodiffusion au récepteur de radiodiffusion ; et

    émettre et recevoir des signaux de communication en champ proche.


     
    2. Dispositif (700) selon la revendication 1 :
    dans lequel la surface conductrice (704) possède un ensemble de dimensions planes qui sont inférieures à 10 % d'une longueur d'onde des signaux de radiodiffusion que la surface conductrice est configurée pour recevoir.
     
    3. Dispositif (700) selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 2 :
    dans lequel la surface conductrice (704) comporte : une feuille de plastique métallisé et/ou un matériau cuivreux et/ou un matériau cuivreux fixé à un matériau diélectrique souple.
     
    4. Dispositif (700) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes :
    comprenant en outre des surfaces conductrices supplémentaires configurées pour recevoir un deuxième ensemble de signaux de radiodiffusion modulés de bio-antenne et transmettre le deuxième ensemble de signaux de radiodiffusion au récepteur de radiodiffusion (710).
     
    5. Dispositif (700) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes :
    dans lequel l'ensemble de signaux de radiodiffusion est compris dans : une bande radio FM et/ou un ensemble de fréquences allant de 87,5 MHz à 108,0 MHz et/ou une bande de fréquences de communication en champ proche (NFC).
     
    6. Dispositif (700) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes :
    comprenant en outre un filtre (706) couplé entre la surface conductrice (704) et le récepteur de radiodiffusion (710) et configuré pour transmettre au récepteur de radiodiffusion un ensemble de fréquences en bande de radiodiffusion reçues par la surface conductrice.
     
    7. Dispositif (700) selon la revendication 6 :
    dans lequel le filtre (706) est : un circuit d'accord et/ou un circuit d'adaptation.
     
    8. Dispositif (700) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes :
    dans lequel le récepteur de radiodiffusion (710) est un récepteur radio FM.
     
    9. Dispositif (700) selon la revendication 1 :
    dans lequel la bobine (712) est : une bobine à air plane et/ou un fil enroulé autour d'un bâtonnet de ferrite.
     
    10. Dispositif (700) selon la revendication 1 ou 9 :
    dans lequel la bobine (712) est accordée sur la fréquence de fonctionnement du circuit NFC.
     




    Drawing


























    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description