Even the most enthusiastic touchscreen typist couldn’t argue that it beats a physical keyboard, especially for devices like tablets where one hand is often needed just to hold it up. A Lenovo patent spotted by PatentBolt points to a non-standard solution: just slap a physical keyboard on there. Or perhaps “clip” is a more accurate term, since the device in Lenovo’s patent filings actually has two separate pieces for separate hands.

It’s a surprisingly new way of looking at the problem. Based on the patent drawings, it looks like the device has two sides to each grip, one with the standard QWERTY keys and one with a game-style control stick. In two examples the user holds the tablet with his or her fingers over the keys on the underside of the device, presumably touch-typing. Another shows a more predictable layout, with the grips on the “bottom” side of the tablet but the keys facing upward. This doesn’t look especially comfortable.

The grips can also fold flat for more traditional typing. As an alternative to the docks and such that have been around for a while, most of which are based on the laptop form factor, this is interesting… but perhaps not exactly practical. For one thing it would need to be fairly universal, creating a bulky Bluetooth device with some troubling battery issues. But hey, everything’s worth a try, right?

[via The Register]