The iPhone range is notorious for its susceptibility to a cracked screen following an accidental bout with gravity – dropped devices often shatter on contact with the ground from even the smallest of altitudes, and Apple is no doubt aware of this.
A new patent may be light at the end of the tunnel for iPhone fans – Apple has apparently been looking into some wacky and interesting ways to get the device to angle itself to the optimal orientation in flight so that it will be damaged as little as possible following a drop.
Descriptions of some fantastic ideas appear in the patent, such as retractable fins, ways to get cables to eject to avoid the device being pulled off the edge of a table, as well as the most likely method of controlling flight – a modification to the internal gyroscope inside an iPhone, which should angle the device in freefall.
The internal haptic feedback vibration motor is the most likely way this could be achieved, in conjunction with other sensors detecting whether the device is flying. One could surmise a whole division of Apple is in the process of testing software to make this happen, and chucking their iPhones across rooms to see if it works.
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A well-placed jolt of vibration could balance the phone nicely so that it lands in the safest way possible, but the part which detects freefall is possibly the most difficult thing to accomplish – the inbuilt accelerometer, gyroscope and even GPS might come into play, as well as an experimental, not yet added ultrasonic emitter.
It’s more than likely that a fully functional system to prevent damage on falling won’t arrive until one, or even two iPhone generations down the line – getting such a thing to work even nine times out of ten requires an incredible amount of science knowhow – physics and the dimensions of the phone both coming into play.
It’s a long-awaited feature and an absolute must for some, as many users have seen every iPhone they own experience a drop and cracked screen. It may be argued that negligence on the part of the user, but accidents do happen, and it’s a welcome relief that Apple may, one day, provide some kind of partial solution to the problem.