Perhaps in the near future, when you drop your Apple iPhone
, a number of things will take place quickly inside the phone that change the device's center of mass in order to control the phone's landing. It is all part of a patent awarded to Apple called "Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device
". The application was filed in 2011 and mentions the use of the phone's accelerometer, gyroscope and a position sensor to help the handset know if it is free falling and how close it is to the ground. GPS and imaging sensors can also be employed. The idea is to alleviate the damage to the phone in case it is dropped. According to the patent, this could be achieved by changing "the angular velocity, device positioning or device rotation
." Although the process can work with any electronic device with a processor, the patent mentions the Apple iPhone by name.
The system memory keeps some statistics including fall heights, speeds and other data which could help the processor decide on the best way for the phone to land to bypass any damage to the interior and perhaps even save the outer glass. The movement of a weighted mass inside the device can set off some foils to slow down the phone
and a can of gas can be used to help give the handset a thrust to reverse a free fall. With the move in the industry toward thin and light phones, don't expect to see this anytime soon. As parts become smaller, perhaps we will see this re-visited by Apple. It does seem like a lot is happening to save one phone, but wouldn't you want everything done to save your phone if it was falling?
"In one example, the protective mechanism is configured to alter the device orientation as the device is falling. This may allow a less vulnerable portion of the device to impact the surface at the end of a freefall. For example, the protective mechanism may be activated to rotate the device so that it may impact a surface on its edge, rather than on a screen portion."-Apple's patent filing
"Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device"