When RIM first showed off the BlackBerry 10 keyboard during BlackBerry World in May many were wondering if copycats would be released before BlackBerry 10. Now it looks like we have a bit better understanding why RIM is not too worried about competitors stealing their innovations. Engadget spotted a patent award for RIM for a “handheld electronic device with text disambiguation.” Essentially that means a logic based keyboard that recommends the next output based on a learning function beyond simple frequency of use.
Here is how RIM describes it:
A handheld electronic device includes a reduced QWERTY keyboard and is enabled with disambiguation software. The device provides output in the form of a default output and a number of variants. The output is based largely upon the frequency, i.e., the likelihood that a user intended a particular output, but various features of the device provide additional variants that are not based solely on frequency and rather are provided by various logic structures resident on the device. The device enables editing during text entry and also provides a learning function that allows the disambiguation function to adapt to provide a customized experience for the user. The disambiguation function can be selectively disabled and an alternate keystroke interpretation system provided. Additionally, the device can facilitate the selection of variants by displaying a graphic of a special <NEXT> key of the keypad that enables a user to progressively select variants generally without changing the position of the user’s hands on the device.
The whole patent application actually seems quite interesting and makes me wonder what it will mean for alternate keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey on Android and other platforms. Check out the full patent filing here at the USPTO.