2007/05/19

First Variable Keypad Smartphone

Some people like the simplicity of texting through a standard phone keypad and others need their smartphones fitted with a qwerty keyboard set-up. Sometimes you would prefer your mobile phone has one or another keyboard set-up depending on what are you doing. Current technology could easily solve this dilema by using an electronic ink touch sensitive keyboard area below the screen, which could be instantly configured to display either a standard phone keyboard or a Treo-like qwerty set-up. The lack of hardware feeling in your fingers also can be solved by pairing the e-ink "screen" with vibration queues whenever you click on a virtual key.

The use of e-ink technology allows this solution to save battery life while the keyboard could display keyboard set-ups for various regional markets, like Russian, Chinese, Spanish, etc. Illumination of the individual virtual keys is the only tricky part, but I guess the technology could be tweaked a bit to allow the active dots to be transparent or translucent enough to allow baklight to pass through.

Moreover, this keyboard area could be used as a battery saving second front screen, to display not-so-dynamic data as battery status, time, network strenght, missed cales etc.

Even an upper extension of this e-ink screen or a third smaller e-ink screen above this one could be used to display a variable navigation keys, which could switch to a music player set-up. This way, there is no need for dedicated media keyboards like the one featured in the Nokia N95.