RIM Buys Design Firm To Create Better User Interfaces

The Astonishing Tribe will become part of Research in Motion. RIM, maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, has acquired the Swedish design firm in an effort to improve its screen designs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a posting on RIM’s Official BlackBerry Blog, Chief Technology Officer David Yach wrote that TAT’s talent will be used on the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and its line of smartphones. He said TAT “is renowned for their innovative mobile user interface designs and has a long history of working with mobile and embedded technology.”

‘Future of Screens’

TAT has three main areas of concentration — user interface (UI) technology, UI turnkey solutions, and UI design and prototyping.

The firm is known for its design work for smartphones, which it said has included about one-fifth of the devices currently on the market. The company has worked with Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Samsung. One of its most visible projects was the design for Google’s first Android phone, the G1.

TAT cofounder Paul Blomdahl said in a statement published Thursday on his firm’s web site that the move to “join a larger tribe” is a “huge leap toward our vision to help create a full user experience for a great line of devices and products.”

He added that the firm will “honor our current agreements” and has “taken all the necessary steps to keep the two commitments separated.”

‘Commodity’ of Capacitive Screens

Among other examples of its work, TAT’s web site includes a project called the Future of Screens.

The project description says screen technology is moving beyond the “commodity” of capacitive screens, and “we will soon have dual screens; malleable screens; screens built into Wi-Fi-connected mirrors, desks or backsides of gadgets clothed with E Ink screens; tactile feedback; color screens with great contrast in sunlight; holographics/stereoscopic screens; color E…

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