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Soon iPhones may protect themselves during a fall

Reuters/Stephen Lam
You’re better than this.
By Shelly Walia
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If the iPhone has an achilles heel, it’s the easily crackable screen. But the panic of dropping your iPhone may soon be a thing of the past.

Apple has been awarded a patent for a mechanism designed to detect a falling device and swiftly change its landing angle to protect it during a fall, according to AppleInsider. The patent, which it applied for last year, comes on the heels of Apple’s failed venture to use sapphire for its iPhone screens. Here’s how the latest patent would work:

Advanced sensors in the phone would know when the phone drops, estimate the point of contact of the phone with the surface, and adjust its center of gravity to fall on its least sensitive area.

Handsets would be fitted with simple gyroscopes or accelerometers, GPS and imaging sensors to track the phone’s physical activity and positioning. When the phone is dropped, data generated by the sensors would be sent to a central processing unit. Within fractions of a second, that unit would calculate the speed and time of the fall, and the rapidly closing distance from the ground, and then activate a mechanism to accurately reposition the phone to avoid hitting on its crack-prone sections, such as its glass screen or camera.

The sensor.

A motor would handle the repositioning by thrusting an asymmetric mass to rotate the falling phone and adjust its landing angle.

The motor and the eccentric mass.

Tech companies tend to apply for patents en masse even though only a few shake out. Assuming this technology makes it that far, the question is how long iPhone users have to wait.

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