Speaker ON, Speaker OFF

How's this for COOL? You know how easy it is to switch your Berry from handset mode to speaker mode (simply hit the $ sign/speaker key on the keyboard)? Well, it looks like RIM wants to make the easy even easier. Instead of having to push a button, in the future it looks like RIM is going have the BlackBerry do the work for us.

A new patent application by RIM, entitled System and methods for adaptively switching a mobile device’s mode of operation addresses adaptive switching, means you won't have to push a button anymore (though I'm sure it will still be there as an option) to turn speaker mode on and off. Simply hold the phone by your ear and talk  into it, and the phone will know to be in handset mode. Move it away from your head and keep talking, and it will know to be in speaker mode. Here's some of the details and how-to from the patent application's abstract:

A system and methods are provided whereby a user of a mobile device can adaptively switch the mobile device from speakerphone mode to handset mode without needing to look at the mobile device or without the need to activate a button or key sequence.
In a preferred embodiment, modules are provided in the mobile device which allow for the detection of a voice conversation, the sampling of the user’s voice and the switching between the two modes of operation.
If the user’s voice volume is above a certain threshold the mobile device operates in handset mode. If the user’s voice volume is below a certain threshold the mobile device operates in speaker mode.
Through the inclusion of the embodiments described herein, a mobile device can allow a user to safely and quickly switch from one mode of operation to the other without a requirement for additional hardware in the mobile device.

You gotta love RIM's engineering team. They already have the most user-friendly smartphone OS/device on the market, yet they never stop trying to improve the BlackBerry's usability.

[ Via