RIM seems to never tire from trying out different takes on physical keyboards for smartphones. Their latest patent spotted by Engadget was filed in 2009 for an “Angular keyboard for a handheld mobile communication device.” Once you get a look at the picture you understand how it would work. Supposedly this design would help people with bigger fingers to type faster compared to the teardrop happy face design RIM currently uses and keeps on tweaking. Check out the abstract below:
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. When the device is cradled in a right hand of the user, the longitudinal axis of each key of said plurality of keys located on the right is oriented to be parallel with a widthwise axis of the user’s right thumb. When said device is cradled in a left hand of the user, the longitudinal axis of the keys located on the left-hand side of said vertical centerline is oriented to be substantially with a length wise axis of the user’s left thumb. At least one key in the right-hand keyfield and one key in the left-hand keyfield is isosceles trapezoidal shaped.
Check out the patent at the USPTO for yourself to see what RIM may be working on. Below is another pic: