There's still a market out there for slider keyboards on smartphones and a huge base of Blackberry users who just won't give up on hard-keys. Yet when it comes to larger slates, such as tablets, the trend dies out. Well, Lenovo thinks that those who love hard keys should have a solution for tablets and they're trying to patent a few of these designs at this very moment. Lenovo's patent describes the tablet accessory as a "handgrip keyboard." Keyboard junkies would definitely rejoice if Lenovo could ever get these to market in time for Christmas. But I have my doubts that Santa will be ordering any of them for this year. Time will tell.
Lenovo's Patent Background
In recent years, portable computers have evolved from transportable suitcase style computers, to laptops or notebooks, and then to slate PCs (also referred to as "tablets" or "pure tablets"). Portable laptops or notebook computers generally have full-sized or nearly full-sized keyboards that allow data entry. However, such computers do not readily allow data entry when the user is standing, in motion, or away from a table.
Slate PCs may allow a user enter data while standing, in motion, or away from a table by using a stylus or touch screen. Stylus or touch screen data entry is much slower than data entry by using a full sized keyboard, particularly if the user is experienced with a keyboard.
Therefore, it can be seen that there is a need for a slate PC to have a keyboard for rapid data entry.
Lenovo's Handgrip Keyboards for Tablets Solution
Broadly speaking, Lenovo's exemplary embodiments comprise of a keyboard system having a first keyboard unit and a second keyboard unit which, together, may provide a full alphabetic array of letters (A-Z) and numbers 0-9. More specifically, exemplary embodiments of a keyboard system provide a total of 26 alphabetic keys with additional keys being utilized for numbers, symbols, or functions.
In Lenovo's patent FIG. 1 shown below we see a keyboard system that may include a first keyboard unit 102 and a second keyboard unit 104. The first and second keyboard units may be attachable to and detachable from a slate PC.
The first and second keyboard units 102 and 104 may be connected to the slate PC wirelessly via Bluetooth (or Infrared) or via a USB cable (not shown).
Varying Keyboard Layouts
In the patent Figures below, we see FIGS. 2A and 2B which represent the first and second keyboard units 102 and 104 may include a plurality of keys. While the keys (98) of the illustrated keyboard units are arranged in a grid pattern comprising a plurality of columns and a plurality of rows, the keys may in fact be arranged in various other patterns and layouts. Rows and/or columns may be straight, curved, or otherwise and each key may be associated with at least one indicia.
Lenovo's patent FIG. 2A is a front view of a first keyboard unit in an open mode and patent FIG. 2B is a perspective view of the first keyboard unit of FIG. 2A in a folded mode.
The standard keyboard layout may be a QWERTY layout but alternatives layouts may include a QWERTZ, an AZERTY, a Dvorak, a Russian, a Chinese, Japanese or other layouts.
The keys having alphabetic characters may also have numeric indicia. Such keys may have the numerals arranged in a telephone keyboard layout, such as one according to the International Telecommunications Union ("ITU") Standard E.
The Folding Linkage Assembly
In Lenovo's patent FIG. 2B we're able to see that the first keyboard unit may include a recess 586 for continuous contact with a first dorsal interosseous portion of the user's hands. The elongated member 402 may be made of a resilient, soft, and deformable material, such as rubber. The elongated member 402 may function to protect the surface of a slate PC when the first keyboard unit 102 is clamped onto the edge of the slate PC.
Lenovo's patent application was originally filed in Q3 2010 and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Q1 2012.
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Sites Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Facebook, Twitter, cnBeta China, Ameba Japan, Woshao China, The Register Hardware UK, Android Community, iPadclub Netherlands, Zive Slovak Republic, Compulenta Russia, Gizmodo Australia, Liliputing, Geek.com, Phys,Org, Tom's Hardware, and more.