We have all been in that situation when you drop your phone and watch helplessly as it falls. As it crashes to the ground, panic usually sets in as you wonder how bad that screen is going to look. You pick it up and you either breath a sigh of relief because the glass is intact or you start screaming every obscenity known to man (and woman) because now your phone is toast.
We’re all hopeful that one day manufacturers will be able to offer shatterproof glass, but Apple has another plan that seems crazy, but it just might be what the doctor ordered.
A new patent from the Cupertino company reveals a new kind of screen protector. Published yesterday at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it’s titled, “Active screen protection for electronic device.”
The patent consists of multiple screen protectors that sit above the main screen, and are moveable between an extended and retracted position. It also includes a method for sensing when the device has been dropped and is in danger of damage.
In normal circumstances, the screen protectors would be in the retracted position, but if the phone is dropped, a sensor would trigger them to extend rotationally. Once fully extended, the screen protectors would create a gap between themselves and the main display, thus protecting it from damage. The sensor will then be able to detect when the phone is no longer in danger and will trigger the screen protectors to retract.
These screen protectors are comprised of multiple tabs at each corner of the display that could be made from plastic, plastic film, polyethylene terephthalate, a polymer, thin metal, or metal. The sensor for recognizing falls could utilize either an accelerometer, gyroscope, inertial sensor, camera, altitude sensor, global positioning system sensor, or motion sensor. Apple also claims that at least one motor will be used to move the screen protectors, but also mentions the possibility of multiple motors.
Unfortunately there is no word on when Apple might implement this technology on the iPhone. Patents are sometimes never even utilized because technology can change during the patent approval process. This patent was originally filed in early 2014, so it’s unclear if Apple is still committed to this idea or has moved on to something else.