Apple’s iPhone ‘smart bumper’: Patent reveals smart shock absorbers that pop out when the device is dropped

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Apple has been awarded a patent that could save your iPhone when it slips out of your hands.

The new application describes an automated bumper system for an iPhone case that acts a a cushion when it is dropped and also doubles as a flotation device.

The technology is built around sensors, such as the accelerometer, which are able to detect when a device is in ‘free fall’.

The patent was filed in May 2014 and was awarded on April 4, 2017, reported Silicon Beat.

Apple labeled the application, ‘Electronic Device Housing’, as the casing device absorbs shock from falls while also protecting the phone from water.

Onboard sensors track the movement of the phone, noting changes in velocity and acceleration, along with other movements that indicate a drop.

If the system, which is placed at the four corners of the iPhone, recognizes the motion as a fall, spring loaded shock absorbers shoot out from the housing, acting as ‘water wings.’

Specialized support rods deploy buoyant bumper cushions, made of foam, plastic, rubber, or other materials.

The cushions can be replaced if damaged or deteriorated, and will function as a float even if the shock absorber system has not been deployed.

With the right combination of the bumper support structure with buoyancy and orientation, the system could even make an iPhone float above the surface of water.

The iPhone flotation device could also prevent water accidents related to dropped iPhones. Replacing the phone entirely can be more expensive than fishing it out and repairing it.

Although Apple did not outright note the toilet as a place people drop their smartphones, a recent survey revealed that 39 percent of users take their handset with them to the bathroom, and according to Google, 19 percent top the phone in the toilet.

Though a system like this would have practical use, it may be too costly to implement into the current design anytime soon.

The iPhone floatie isn’t the only design to attempt to work around Apple devices’ aversion to water.

 

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