Airbags are synonym with cars, but what would you say if you are told that mobile phones will now come with Airbags?
Yes, that is absolutely true, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been granted a patent that utilizes a system similar to car bags for protecting devices from damage caused due to impact like falling to ground. The patent (US008330305) has been granted on December 11th 2012 by US Patents and Trademarks Office.
Here is what the patent is about:
A method for protecting a portable device that includes an airbag deployable from a side of the portable device, comprising: detecting that the portable device will impact a surface; prior to impact with the surface, determining if a risk of damage to the portable device from the impact exceeds a damage threshold; when the risk of damage to the portable device exceeds the damage threshold: altering the orientation of the portable device such that the air bag first impacts the surface; and deploying the airbag prior to impact with the surface.
In simple language, a device like smartphone or tablet will have a method to detect a fall and before it hits the ground it will employ an airbag kind of a system immediately before it impacts the surface and prevent the device from causing any damage. Check this flow Diagram
If it is not clear even now, have a look at this video – “Lenovo Flying Laptop” – that more or less shows how this system will work. Although, the video below was created way back in 2006, but I am not sure if there was any patent filed for it.
Airbags on Portable devices: Will it come to real world?
Airbags on portable device is definitely feasible and possible, but for it come to real world and be in mass production, number of things need to fall in place. First and foremost, it has to be cost effective. Cramming airbags in such small devices like smartphones is difficult, but possible, as you can see from the images accompanying the patent.
One thing for sure, it is solving a real world problem. According to the statistic, 1 out of 3 cellular phones are damaged or lost in the first year of ownership, which is really big number give the number of cell phone users in the world. If high end smartphones can carry airbags in them and protect themselves against damage from fall, I am sure there will be many takers.
What’s your take?