Apple looks to protect iPhones whilst device is in mid flight

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An Apple invention discovered on Thursday March 21st describes a system that could potentially save the most fragile components of an iPhone, such as the glass screen by detecting when a device is falling and shifting the handset’s center of mass to control how the iPhone lands which can prevent and major damage to its screen.

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(Mass motor drive)

Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s protect iPhones with “Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device” patent filing looks to prevent some or all of the damage when a device is accidentally dropped. This is great for portable devices that millions of people use daily, Apple’s iPhone is specifically mentioned in the patent language, this could be a great accessory to stop the prevention of cracked screens.

In order to work, the system needs a sensor or sensor array that can detect when a device is in freefall and how it is positioned relative to the ground. These can be simple gyroscopes, accelerometers or position sensors, but the patent also notes more advanced components such as GPS.  Coupled to the sensor is a processor that can help determine a freefall state, including how fast the device is falling, how far away it is from the ground and time to the impact, among other statistics. Statistics of various fall heights, speeds and other data can be stored on system memory to aid the processor in making a decision on how best to land the device in an event of an accident.

Finally, the system requires a mechanism to either reorientate the device while in flight, or otherwise protect certain sensitive device components in the event of a fall. Here, the patent calls for a number of solutions, including the movement of a weighted mass within the device.

Basically, the sensor send signals to the processor, which determines if a device is in a freefall state. If such a determination is made, the protective mechanism is deployed. Many of the embodiments focus on repositioning the device while in flight to have it impact a non-vital area or portion of the unit. In order to lessen the blow or avoid any major parts of the device for example the screen.

Such a complex system is unlikely to be integrated into an iPhone anytime soon, especially given the handset’s increasing trend toward a thin-and-light design, but future iterations or products may see a similar method employed as component miniaturization technologies advance. Well we might not see these in any new revisions of the iPhone or other products yet but will in the future.

 

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