Apple patents an iPhone drop mechanism that alters device angle in freefall

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We’ve all experience it: that horrifying moment when you drop your smartphone, wondering whether your screen is about to be smashed to pieces. That worry could however be a thing of the past. Apple was granted a patent by the USPTO on Tuesday. The patent describes a system that can recognise an iPhone drop. The mechanism will react to an iPhone in mid-air, re-orient it, and alter the angle of its impact with the ground after determining how best to shift it to make sure the fall does as little damage as possible.

The patent uses existing tech, including the vibration motor, to control the angle of a fall, but it also has advanced tech that the previous and current iPhone devices do not have. This patent however will not appear already existing devices as the tech is different. It is described as a variation of the vibration motors contained in old versions of the iPhone, before the iPhone 6 and 6 as well as a different method that only notify users using a haptic feedback when a notification arrives. Future iPhones will therefore have to have include the new vibration motors in order for the tech to work

Other pieces of tech, including the accelerometer, GPS, gyroscopes will also need to be incorporated and turned on in order to control the spin and angle of the phone’s descent in real-time.

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The data from these sensors is then sent to a central processing unit that trigger quick positioning determination. All the features then work together to measure the speed of descent, time to impact and orientation. The processor may then conduct a statistical analysis of the fall by comparing gathered data against embedded information stored in device memory.

The mechanism will require the iPhone to rethink its software choices when it makes its next iPhone. Even the existing features might need to be improved. To have maximum impact, for example, the vibration motor might need to be powered at high rotation speed to allow it to efficiently control descent speed and to alter the landing angle.

Read more: Mozilla Firefox might be coming to an iPhone near you

The patent makes further impressive claims and states that: “The protective device may contract buttons, switches, or the like that may be exposed on an outer surface of the enclosure, so that the buttons or switches may be protected within the enclosure at impact”.

The patent also claims that the protective device may include a gripping member to grip onto a power cord and headphone cord.

“Headphones may be inserted within an audio port and the headphones may be operably connected to a user’s head,” it says. “As the device experiences a freefall (e.g., is dropped by the user), the grip members may expand within the audio port to grip or otherwise retain the headphones (or other plug)”.



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