Patent Monkey: Nokia Trying to One-Up iPod Scroll Wheel?

Nokia recently received a patent covering a new phone interface by using a frame that can be rotated and a series of input controls around a display that changes what the buttons control based on triggering the frame’s rotation spring (e.g. from letters to numbers)

Nokia appears to have developed this interface using a display and changeable letter or number options to provide users a more flexible and efficient data entry option. Nokia looks to be trying to take a page out of Apple’s long lasting iPod design by trying to simplify a phone interface by doing more with less.

As an explanation of the intention of the frame interaction, the invention “can be described as a special configuration of a keypad, where keys are mounted on a frame base that can be turned clockwise or anti-clockwise. The functions of the keys are shown by symbols or text located next to the keys on a display screen that is surrounded by the frame. When the frame is turned to a new position, these key functions are changed to new functions. With such a configuration, it is possible to create a keypad where the functions of the keys are changeable. This has the advantage in that it provides a configuration with more functions using the same keypad, while at the same time being intuitive for the user.”

Nokia has played around with scroll wheels before and appears to be trying to improve upon the iPod interface, is very good for lists, but not as easy for entering text or numbers which are getting more important each day Twitter expands.

OK, things change when iPhone launches.