RIM buys The Astonishing Tribe to polish up BlackBerry

The Astonishing Tribe is leaving its village behind and joining RIM to work on UIs for BlackBerry smart phones and the PlayBook tablet.

RIM has bought The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), a user-interface design company that's responsible for some downright kerr-azy mobile phone interfaces.

TAT interfaces are used in mobile devices and in-car systems, but we love their out of the box concept designs.

For example, TAT designed a UI for the Synaptics Fuse, a concept phone that has grip-sensitive sides and a touch panel on the back. It has also shown off whizzy concept interfaces to make multi-tasking easier -- check out the video below to see that in action.

TAT will contribute to BlackBerry smart phones and to the PlayBook tablet, wrote RIM in its blog post announcing the acquisition. 

We've complained in the past about the rictus of boredom that comes over our faces when we use BlackBerry phones, despite RIM's efforts at refreshing the user interface on handsets such as the BlackBerry Torch.

The challenge for TAT at RIM will be tempting new users with its innovative ideas, without alienating existing BlackBerry users who love their berries just as they are.

If you want to get a taste of TAT and you have an Android phone, pop over to their website to download three free live wallpapers, with flowers that bloom when you get a text message, for example. 

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