Touchscreen BlackBerry Patent

A new Patent Application from RIM went through to publication yesterday morning, entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD OF INTEGRATING A TOUCHSCREEN WITHIN AN LCD. It's hard to not get excited about this if you reside in the BlackBerry camp wanting to see a Touchscreen BlackBerry added to RIM's offering. And according to our buddy Russell Shaw who posted the story, we may not have to wait TOO long to see it (he estimates 3 months). Russell's reasoning? Most patent apps take about 18 months to hit publication once they have been submitted. This one only took four months - and apparently this isn't a sign of USPTO efficiency, rather, a sign of a products imminent release. Three months would put a touchscreen BlackBerry announcement just in time for WES. I think that's probably overly optimistic thinking at this point, but would love to see that be the case!

Proposed in the patent:

A touchscreen liquid crystal display, method for using a liquid crystal display as a user input, and a mobile electronic device are provided. The touchscreen liquid crystal display comprises: a liquid crystal display having a viewing surface and including a plurality of parallel first electrodes located on one side of a liquid crystal containing area and overlapping with a plurality of parallel second electrodes located on an opposite side of the liquid crystal containing area, the first and second electrodes overlapping to form an array of liquid crystal pixel elements, at least some of the first electrodes being displaceable towards the second electrodes in response to external pressure applied to the viewing surface; a driver circuit coupled to the first and second electrodes for driving the electrodes for selectively controlling a display state of the display pixel elements; and a measurement circuit coupled to the electrodes for measuring display pixel element voltages for at least some of the display pixel elements formed by the first electrode, and for each display pixel element for which a display pixel element voltage is measured, comparing the measured voltages to reference voltages and determining a relative force of the external pressure on the viewing surface based on the measured voltages.