Microsoft filed this patent for a sliding touchscreen phone that includes interchangeable modules where you would expect to find a QWERTY keyboard. These modules include a keyboard, obviously, a control pad for games, an extra battery and an extra touchscreen.
With this modular design you could combine lots of functionality in one phone. You could have a phone focused on gaming like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, while at the same time having a phone that is great for messaging and emails with a full keyboard. All you have to do is slot in a new component when needed.
Microsoft was not the first to come up with this idea. It was previously explored by an Israeli company called Modu. However it didn’t quite work out for them and the company ceased trading at the start of 2011. Microsoft has more of a market presence and more money to throw into development than Modu so it is quite possible that we could be seeing such a phone in the future. Interestingly, Modu’s patents were purchased by Google – so this modular phone design could be the source of a new wave of patent lawsuits in the coming years.