RIM Tries to Patent Flexible Display for Handheld Devices

Research In Motion Limited of Waterloo in Canada’s Ontario province has been a beleaguered brand in recent years. RIM’s flagship product, the BlackBerry, was a dominant mobile phone early in the 2000s, but advances to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android system earned both of those manufacturers a greater share of the market. Recently, RIM has been redeveloping its line of products and seeking new markets, especially with the company’s recent unveiling of the Q5, a low-cost device running the BlackBerry 10 operating system that will be available in Latin America, Asia and other emerging markets.

As a developer of mobile communication technologies, RIM is a common name each week at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. IPWatchdog is giving the creator of the BlackBerry a close look this week, covering some of the most interesting USPTO patent applications and patent awards published this month for the company.

Research In Motion’s development of better mobile devices is on display in a number of intriguing documents. One application released recently outlines RIM’s development of a mobile device with a flexible display that can be bent up to 180 degrees. Another patent application discusses new tunable capacitors using microwaves for better radio impedance matching. An official patent awarded to the company this week protects an accelerometer component that improves list scrolling within applications.

RIM is also focused on computer systems design providing user feedback. Two applications that give us a closer look at this research and development involve a custom system of building user word lists for predictive text models, as well as location-specific search engines parameters that a user can set manually.


Handheld Electronic Device Having a Flexible Display
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130120912

Handheld electronic devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs) and tablet computers, are designed to be small in size to aid portability. One way some device manufacturers have attempted to address this design feature is to create flexible screen displays, which require less housing than standard displays that require physical support to remain functional. However, the mechanical stress on a flexible display when that display is folded can cause serious functioning problems using current methods of flexible screen construction.

This patent application, filed by Research in Motion, would protect the manufacture of a device that has a flexible screen which can bend up to 180 degrees to close. The top portion of the screen folds down over an input section, which would include a keyboard, and the input section acts as a spacer to prevent screen failure from excessive screen bending. According to the detailed description, this device screen could use flexible versions of organic light-emitting diode (OLED), e-ink, liquid crystal or touch screen displays.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes Research In Motion’s development of:

“A handheld electronic device, comprising: a housing; a flexible display associated with the housing, the flexible display having a folded arrangement in which the flexible display defines a first portion and a second portion; and an input portion linked to the housing, wherein the device is configured to sandwich the input portion in-between the first portion of the flexible display and the second portion of the flexible display when the flexible display is in the folded arrangement.”

Locale Centric Search Optimization in Response to User Opt-In
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130117249

Mobile devices put their owners in touch with an incredible number of web applications that can provide information of all kinds to users. Using Internet search engines, users can research large stores of information on any topic. However, due to the worldwide nature of the web, search engine results aren’t typically useful for finding local information for shopping, entertainment and other businesses.

A system of providing location-specific search results, which would be protected through this patent application, could counteract this problem by narrowing search results based on geographic parameters. Users have the option to opt-in with this feature, allowing them to choose to turn geographical filters on or off. Local terms could also be suggested in place of given search terms, helping a foreign visitor find better results. The application gives an example of a user searching for “winter cap” while in Canada; the search engine could suggest the word “tuque,” which would provide many more useful results.

As Claim 1 describes, Research In Motion is hoping to protect:

“A method of locale-centric search optimization, performed by a server, comprising: in response to receiving a search query, determining whether an option to receive search suggestions that are relevant to a locale is also received; if it is determined that the option to receive search suggestions that are relevant to the locale is also received, providing at least one keyword suggestion that is relevant to the locale; performing a search on an updated search query comprising one or more of the search query and the at least one keyword suggestion that is relevant to the locale; and returning the results of the search on the updated search query.”

Systems and Methods of Building and Using Custom Word Lists
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130132073

The use of predictive text methods is very helpful when typing text inputs into mobile electronic devices, especially for multi-tap keyboards. In multi-tap keyboards, devices utilizing a standard key pad or reduced QWERTY keyboards allow for text input, but multiple characters are assigned to a single key. For example, in a standard key pad, the “1” button on the phone can be pressed once for “A,” twice for “B” and three times for “C” during text input. Predictive text methods reduce the amount of taps a user needs to input a word or phrase.

This method of building a custom word list, devised by Research In Motion, would scan text inputs and analyze them to create a more user-responsive method of predicting text. As each word is stored and retyped, the custom word list system assigns a weighting to each word. The text scanner involved in this system would also scan e-mails and other documents as well as texts to build predictive text models.

Claim 26 (Claims 1 through 25 cancelled) of this Research In Motion patent application would protect:

“A system for building a custom word list for use in text operations on an electronic device comprising: a processor; and a memory storing instructions that, when executed by the processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: determining a source associated with a text item, identifying words in the text item, and assigning a weighting to each identified word based in part on the source of the text item, wherein the source is determined based on an identity associated with at least one portion of the text item.”

Tunable Microwave Devices with Auto-Adjusting Matching Circuit
U.S. Patent Application 201301275761

Mobile technologies for transmitting SMS messages and cell phone calls often use a variety of radio frequencies to achieve this message transfer. Radio antennas in mobile devices must be able to modulate given different radio broadcast standards utilized across the world. Although antenna impedance ratings for radio communications are typically around 50 ohms, different radio broadcast conditions can create slightly different impedance ratings and deplete battery power.

The front end module antenna component developed by Research In Motion, and outlined in this patent application, involves a tunable capacitor that utilizes microwaves to achieve varying impedance. These capacitors have a better radio frequency range and better tuning capabilities than current products developed from copper, silicon or ferroelectric materials. The electronically tunable materials used in the capacitor include a metal silicate and at least two metal oxides.

Claim 1 of this patent application would protect for Research In Motion:

“An impedance matching circuit, comprising: a matching network to couple to a variable load; wherein the matching network comprises a first port and a second port; wherein the variable load is coupled to one of the first port or the second port; wherein the matching network comprises one or more variable dielectric capacitors; wherein the one or more variable dielectric capacitors are operable to receive one or more variable voltage signals to cause the one or more variable dielectric capacitors to change an impedance of the matching network; wherein at least one of the one or more variable dielectric capacitors comprises: a first conductor coupled to one of the first port or the second port; a second conductor; and a tunable dielectric material positioned between the first conductor and the second conductor, wherein at least one of the first conductor or the second conductor, or both are adapted to receive the one of the one or more variable voltage signals to cause the change in the impedance of the matching network.”

System and Method for Navigating a Mobile Device User Interface with a Directional Sensing Device
U.S. Patent No. 8447513

Research In Motion electronic devices typically have a few components that allow users to scroll through lists, like an address book for contacts. For instance, some devices utilize a thumb wheel that a user can flick up or down to scroll. In other instances, arrow keys on a key pad allow users to scroll through different entries on a list.

Research In Motion recently earned the legal right through the USPTO to protect a system of more efficient scrolling using an accelerometer installed within a mobile device. The accelerometer records a tilt angle of origin when a user operates a scrolling component. When the component is pressed and held and the device is tilted away from the user, the mobile device application will scroll up the list. If the accelerometer detects that the device is tilted more towards the user, it will scroll down the list.

As Claim 1 states, Research In Motion won the right to protect:

“A non-transitory machine-readable medium comprising program instructions that are executable by a processor of a mobile device to: display a graphical element on a display of the mobile device, and alter a position of the graphical element on the display based on a change in a tilt angle of the mobile device.”


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