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12/26/2007
03:13 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
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BlackBerry Maker Proposes An Angular Keyboard For Mobile Devices

Apple stole the show this year by introducing its touch-screen-only iPhone. But mobile innovation doesn't stop there. Many device makers are stepping up their game, including Research In Motion, which, according to a recent patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is proposing an angular keyboard for (what appears to be) future BlackBerry smartphones.

Apple stole the show this year by introducing its touch-screen-only iPhone. But mobile innovation doesn't stop there. Many device makers are stepping up their game, including Research In Motion, which, according to a recent patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is proposing an angular keyboard for (what appears to be) future BlackBerry smartphones.The patent application No. 20070287391, posted on Dec. 13, describes an "angular keyboard for a handheld mobile communication device" that would more naturally correspond to the way human thumbs move. So, for example, instead of positioning keys in a straight line on a keyboard (as they are on current BlackBerry models), the keys would be angled.

Here's a more detailed description of the concept from the document filed by RIM:

Wireless handheld mobile communication device including a housing with a display above a keyboard exposed for user actuation. A length of the device is greater than the width. Each key of a right-hand keyfield has a longitudinal axis oriented at a left-to-right inclined angle while each key of a left-hand keyfield has a longitudinal axis oriented at a right-to-left inclined angle from the vertical centerline. A left boundary of the keyboard is located adjacent the left lateral side edge of the device and the right boundary of the keyboard is located adjacent the right lateral side edge of the device so that the keyboard spans a substantial entirety of the width of the device.

To a see a sketch of the proposed angular keyboard, click here.

The new keyboard design is meant to improve text entry on mobile devices. The patent application filed by RIM doesn't mention BlackBerrys specifically, but it appears that the keyboard is meant to be implemented on future BlackBerry models.

Hopefully this will help eliminate a vast number of typing errors and solve the "sore thumb" problem suffered by many BlackBerry users. How long do we have to wait for an actual product? That remains a mystery since the keyboard is just a concept.

Also, it's not an entirely new concept. Perhaps RIM has something different and more elaborate in mind than the sketch of the keyboard indicates, but there are smartphones already available with slanted/slightly angular keyboards. One example is Motorola's Moto Q.

If you've spotted other smartphones with a similar design, let us know.

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