RIM files patent for rotatable keyboard

Posted by Emma Woollacott

RIM may be working on a version of the Blackberry with a pull-out, rotating keyboard.

It's filed a patent application titled 'Handheld electronic device with rotatable member'. This describes a phone with a slide-out second section that can be used as it is for phone calls or rotated 90 degrees for use as a keyboard, creating a 'T'-shaped device.

The second section could have a qwerty keyboard on one side and a touchscreen or numeric keypad on the other.

"For some functions... such as text entry for messaging and email it may be desirable to provide a specific type of interface, such as an alphabetic keypad, which typically would have a landscape orientation (as opposed to a portrait orientation)," reads the application.

"For other functions, however, it may be more convenient for the handheld electronic device to have a different orientation. For example, when holding a handheld electronic device during a telephone call it may be more convenient for the device to not exceed a selected width so that it is easily held by the user."

The solution described by the patent is a complicated hinge mechanism, which also allows the two sections to be disconnected completely and reattached.

The connector, of course, may never make it off the drawing board. It makes for a rather clunky-looking device, and the sheer complication of the rotation mechanism could make it vulnerable to breakage.