A new Apple patent details some curious “self-righting” technologies that could put an end to the dreaded cracked screen. The U.S. patent application is for protective mechanisms that would “selectively alter a center of mass” of a device, compliments of a variety of aeronautical features even James Bond could get behind.
Such features include “air foils,” a “thrusting mechanism” and a “gripping member” that could latch on to power or headphone cords. The mechanisms would be activated by a sensor that could detect when the phone was dropped, its orientation in the free fall and the estimated point of impact. Thus the protective mechanisms would selectively change the device’s orientation — or at least slow down the impact — to safeguard the vulnerable areas during a free fall.
The patent also suggests a mechanism that could alter the angular momentum of a falling device by way of a weight connected to a motor. Additionally, the protective device may also “contract buttons, switches, or the like that may be exposed on an outer surface of the enclosure, so that the buttons or switches may be protected within the enclosure at impact.”
While the patent seeks to protect “any type of electronic device,” the iPhone is the only specific product named in the application.
As quirky as some of these features sound, anyone using a device with a shattered, spider-veined screen would gladly welcome such innovations. Who wouldn’t want a smartphone that deployed wings as it fell? Regardless, I’m pretty sure Data is behind many of these mechanisms.