Talk about quick reflexes. Apple’s new patent could allow future iPhones to automatically safeguard themselves whenever they’re headed toward the ground.
A new USPTO listing shows that Apple has secured the rights to a “protective mechanism for an electronic device,” which would work with the iPhone’s motion sensor and processor to adjust the product’s weight distribution in the midst of a drop.
The patent outlines “a method of protecting a vulnerable area of an electronic device during freefall,” in which the device detects its state of freefall, estimates the distance of the surface below and automatically shifts itself in order to land on, say, one of its edges rather than its shatter-happy screen.
The patent mentions a number of ways in which this “protective mechanism” could work, including some sort of movable mass within the device that would slide around to change the way your smartphone lands on the ground. The filing also makes note of a “thrust mechanism” that would use bursts of gas to reorient the device, as well as a mechanism that would automatically contract a device’s physical buttons during a state of freefall.
While the patent doesn’t apply exclusively to Apple’s iPhone, its description notes that the mechanism is built primarily with mobile devices in mind. Many of the patent’s images show an iPhone-like mockup, though one sketch of a laptop suggests that the technology could come to the company’s MacBooks.
Source: toms hardware