Yesterday it emerged that Apple has filed for a rather audacious patent which seeks to prevent the significant damage of an iPhone when it is dropped.
The patent was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday, and it showcases Apple’s latest technology venture, suggesting Apple has been working overtime in a bid to alleviate damage sustained by dropping a phone. The patent works around a sensor array within the device that can detect when a device is in free fall, and also establish its position relative to the ground during the fall. The array can features sensors such as gyroscopes and accelerometers, but there is also mention of GPS and imaging technology. All of the sensors on board are connected to a processor, which calculates the fall height, drop speed and time to impact, allowing the device to best choose how to land the device.
Once the course of action is established, then the method of protection is deployed, such as the mass motor, shown above. The mass motor moves a weighted mass within the device to alter its positioning mid-air, allowing the phone to land on a less fragile, and more well protected part of the device, protecting basic features such as the screen. There are also some other methods of fall prevention, such as the grip a plug method. I myself have more than once dropped my iPhone whilst listening to music, and had my phone break from the cable and fall to the ground. One suggested system has the headphone socket actually grip onto the jack to prevent separation. There’s even an inverse of this method, which actually jettisons cables that might be pulling a device off a table.
There are a couple of more extreme methods, such as the deployment of lift foils extended from the surface of the device, and the deployment of compressed gas to counter fall acceleration. This sounds like phenomenal stuff. The ideas are a little outlandish, so we can’t expect to see them in the next iPhone, however, it’s very important to note that companies are looking at ways to protect our devices.