RIM has filed another patent as it gears up with handset research and development, heading towards the launch of BlackBerry 10 and beyond.
The operating system, due out later this year, is crucial to the revival of the company's fortunes, and new features to bolster its appeal in the future certainly won't hurt. This latest patent details a pressure sensitive touchscreen feature, and is entitled "Pressure Password for a Touchscreen Device".
As RIM writes in the patent abstract: "A handheld communication or computing device having a touchscreen interface is configured to permit access in response to detection of a pressure-based password by a plurality of force sensors, each one of the force sensors corresponding to one of a plurality of sensing regions defined on the surface of the touchscreen interface.
"Upon detecting a sequence of presses applied to a plurality of the force sensors, the detected sequence is compared to previously stored information to determine if it matches. If there is a match, access to functions and/or data at the device is granted."
In short, it envisages four pressure sensitive points at the four corners of the handset's touchscreen. The user can press these in a certain order to unlock the phone - basically, it's a pressure-sensitive PIN number, if you will.
A novel - and secure - idea, certainly. It will be interesting to see what else RIM is planning in terms of smartphone innovation, in the battle to keep itself relevant.