WASHINGTON – Like a falling cat repositioning itself to land on its feet, or a jet gently lowering a spacecraft, Apple has filed for a patent on using built-in technology to prevent broken iPhones in the future.
Simply titled Protecting an Electronic Device, the patent filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office envisions falling devices flipping themselves in midair, to land on the sturdiest edges of the phone, as well as a jet propulsion system to cushion a falling phone’s landing.
In Apple’s filing it says a drop sensor would recognize when a device was falling. In a split second, a gyroscope would determine whether the phone’s freefall would have it land in a way likely to cause damage.
The filing reads, “For example, smart phones with cover glass may be particularly vulnerable when the cover glass impacts the ground.”
If the phone is likely to land on its glass, a motor communicating with the sensor would rotate the phone to alter the orientation of the device.
In another scenario, a built-in propulsion system could protect the falling phone.
“The thrust mechanism may be used immediately before impact to ‘catch’ the device before it makes impact,” Apple writes in its filing.
Apple is open to how the propulsion system would work, offering compressed gas, fans, ions or an airfoil to soften the landing.
The filing includes no estimates of what the technology would cost or when it might be available.
In its patent filing, Apple demonstrates how a falling iPhone would rotate in midair to land on a sturdy edge, rather than its vulnerable screen.