Upon every smartphone release, what do you get to see online the most? Photos (photos ‘leak’ before release anyway), technical specifications, reviews, comparisons, tear downs (hey iFixit!) etcetera right? But there is one thing not in the list and you guessed it right, the drop tests! Drop tests are common these days. If you search YouTube for drop tests, you will get hundreds of videos ‘testing’ a smartphone by dropping it on its face. No gadget is immune from these ‘tests’. I am not going to take my whole article space writing about drop tests though, because I have something related to write about. And it is Apple’s new patent. Apple is working on a screen fall protection technology for its future iPhones and possibly other devices. And if you’re interested in what the heck that is, read on.
A question – Do you know how cats survive falls from great heights? The answer – When falling, cats twist to land on their feet. Their legs are long, muscular and extend under the body rather than straight down, allowing them to absorb the shock. (Source – BBC)
The question and its answer is something similar Apple is working on: Active fall protection.
A new patent titled ‘Active screen protection for electronic device’ has been filed by Apple. United States Patent and Trademark Office has released the patent details yesterday. The technology Apple is working on, is aimed towards protecting an iPhone or other device’s screen from damaging when it falls. When a device falls, the fall protection will keep its screen from making contact with the surface, protecting it from damage.
A device equipped with screen fall protection will include multiple ‘screen protectors’ as shown in above illustration. These protectors are movable between retracted and extended positions. Normally, these protectors will stay in retracted positions. When the device, say an iPhone is falling, the sensors will detect the fall. Upon detection of a fall event, the screen protectors will extend above the screen to create a gap between the device and the surface, functioning like a shock absorber.
As per patent explanation, in some implementations the screen protectors may be multiple tabs movable between retracted and extended positions by motors and/or other actuators. These actuators are coupled to one or more pinions. The screen protector tabs may be created from various flexible and/or rigid materials such as plastic or metal.
The active screen protection will not turn the device to land on its screen when its falling backward though. (Cats can: Wikipedia). But it will definitely save the screen from damaging when falling on its face, serving its purpose.
Companies like Apple holds thousand of patents which may or may not be used in near future. Apple’s Active Screen Protection technology is under research and development and it will be too soon to assume whether the next iPhone (iPhone 7) will be equipped with it or not. May be in coming years, we will no longer have to worry about our iPhone screen when it falls.
I have a question though, what if my iPhone is run over by a car? Will screen protector still work? I hope it does.
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