New Apple Patent Protects iPhones from Falls

Apple’s newest patent for a “Protective mechanism for an electronic device” was awarded from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today. Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,903, 519 aims to address the all too common user error of dropping your phone.

As someone who has had several phones with “customized” (read: cracked) screens, this is a particularly interesting move from Apple. Apparently the newly patented technology can apparently shift a device’s center of gravity midfall by anticipating the point of impact. By shifting the center of gravity, it should ideally prevent blunt trauma to more fragile parts like cameras and of course, glass screens.

Much like cats that always land on their feet, apparently we can look forward to Apple products like iPhones and iPads that don’t land on their screens. How will this be achieved? According to the patent text, there will be a series of sensors that will track the device’s position. This will make use of on board gyroscopes, accelerometers and GPS in the current line of iPhones and iPads with future designs incorporating ultrasonic sensors and more.

Once Apple’s device determines that it’s in danger of damaging its pretty face, the sensors and processor team up to calculate the equivalent of a high school physics homework assignment by determining the speed of descent, time to impact and device orientation at impact. After all the calculations have been finished, the system will then work to reposition itself midair with the hope of minimizing damage on impact.

As if shifting position while in freefall wasn’t ambitious enough, Apple also included more unique mechanisms that would grab onto or expel headphone cables and even miniature gas canisters that would act as thrusters slow falls. Soon, the phrase “iPhones give you wings” could even be reality thanks to proposed designs for motors that would control aerodynamic foils for softer landings.