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New 'crank' keyboard coming to Nokia phones

Nokia is evolving its smartphone user interface on devices like the N81 8GB - and will introduce a touchscreen version next year. Perhaps that will also include the new 'crank' keyboard design?

Nokia has patented an innovative new keyboard design that will be featured in its future touchscreen handsets.

The patent shows off a clamshell handset with an innovative 'crank' mechanism. The handset has a full Qwerty keyboard hidden underneath a touchscreen. A 'crank' mechanism with a 180° pivotal axis allows the screen to hinge upwards to reveal the keyboard, providing access to normal phone functions.

The crank clicks into two positions - one revealing the keyboard and allowing the phone's video camera to be activated, while the other click activates the phone's camera. The handset is also rumoured to include Wi-Fi, games and computer functions, says.

The patent has been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office so could be on the way to handsets soon. Back in August, Nokia confirmed that it would be introducing a touchscreen Symbian S60-powered multimedia phone sometime in 2008. We hope it will feature this new keyboard design.

We're awaiting more information about this new patent from Nokia and will update the story as soon as we hear back from them.