New RIM Patent Raises Questions

by Jordan Richardson on August 27, 2010

Research In Motion has filed an interesting United States patent that reveals a lot from the title alone. The title of the patent is “Handheld Electronic Device with Rotatable Member.” Okay, stop laughing.

It’s possible to deduce from the drawings and from the description that RIM is devising some sort of BlackBerry device with a rotating physical QWERTY keyboard on one side of the unit and a touch screen on the other side. The product looks like it will be ready for use in both portrait or landscape configuration, too.

In allowing for multiple control surfaces, this new BlackBerry device could be the change-up pitch the company is looking for.

The phone shown in the illustrations has a pull-out section that could be used in different configurations depending on what the user wants. This versatility makes the product ideal for either messaging or traditional phone use.

RIM describes a few different ways that the “rotating member” could be connected to the rest of the phone. There’s the traditional pull-out-and-twist system, for starters, but a few other ways that could make for an interesting final product. The bottom line is, of course, the versatility of the finished product for RIM.

Now there are other phones that offer both QWERTY and numeric capabilities, so this isn’t really an earth-shattering unit in and of itself. The Samsung Alias 2, as SlashGear points out, had a display that could flip between landscape and portrait depending on the intentions of the user. But this BlackBerry patent is a little different in that it offers “very specific input methods,” separating it from the herd in that it doesn’t make users compromise how they wish to use their phones.

Naturally part of the problem with looking at patents like this is the commercial factor. Will this design actually ever be used on a commercial device by RIM? Hard to say. Sometimes these patents just exist as ways to ensure potential projects in the distant future. But other times they do indicate what a particular company has on the horizon, so it could be a possibility that RIM would unveil a product like this in the near future.

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