updated 01:25 am EDT, Fri April 20, 2012
Usable in three positions, practicality unclear
Filed in 2010 but published on April 19, Research in Motion (RIM) applied for a patent for a multiple position input mechanism on a mobile phone, such as a keyboard. While sliding keyboards have been a mainstay of some mobile phones for years, this patent describes a method to have multiple usable positions of the keyboard with both sliding and rotation, each one exposing more phone display than the last.
As filed, the keyboard is mounted on a single pivot point to one side of the phone. The first and default position obscures more of the screen than the previous two. First position is likely the position the phone is in while talking to somebody, or not being used. The second position is reached while the phone is still held vertically along the long axis and is best described as the extended position still overlapping some of the screen. Turning the phone to a landscape orientation, the third position rotates the keyboard 90 degrees from previous positions and is underneath the now horizontal phone, exposing the entire screen to the user.
No future device using this rotating mounting technology is specified on the patent. Patents are routinely filed to protect potentially valuable intellectual property of a company, even if the company in question has no intention of ever developing the product specified in the patent. [via Engadget]