Smartphones with gigantic glass screens are the most fragile handheld gaming platform, but a new Apple patent is designed to combat our human butterfingers and help a device move on its own when dropped to minimize damage.
The technology would "selectively alter a center of mass of the electronic device," according to U.S. patent 8,903,519 granted today. The patent describes a scenario where, in the space between your hands and the cold, hard ground, your device uses its motion sensor, activates its vibration mechanism and moves on its own to minimize potential damage. The patent even describes a method by which a device would "activate an air foil to change the aerodynamics of the mobile electronic device" to reduce velocity and produce lift.
Regardless of how it’s done, it’s all in service of "protecting a vulnerable area of an electronic device during a freefall," whether that’s a phone, a laptop or a tablet.
"Mobile electronic devices are being used more often and more people are carrying mobile electronic devices with them on a continuous basis," the patent’s background section reads. "However, people may drop their mobile electronic devices, or the mobile electronic devices may otherwise may be caused to enter a freefall state. For example, if the mobile electronic device may get pushed off of a counter or table. As mobile electronic devices impact a surface after freefall they may be substantially damaged, even if they are encased within a cover or other protective device."