Future iPhones — and perhaps iPads — may feature retractable screen protectors to prevent damage to the smartphones. Apple has filed for a patent (number 201500301565) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “active screen protection for an electronic device.” However, the screen protector would be in the form of movable tabs, not an extra layer on the display.
According to the invention, the iOS device would include one or more screen protectors that move between a retracted position and extended position where they extend above the screen to create a gap, and one or more sensors. When the sensor senses that the device is dropped, the screen protectors move from the retracted to extended position, functioning as a shock absorber.
Apple says that, in some implementations, the screen protectors may be multiple tabs that may be moved between the retracted and extended positions by one or more motors and/or other actuators coupled to one or more pinions. The tabs could be built of various flexible and/or rigid materials such as plastic, plastic film, polyethylene terephthalate or other polymers, metal, thin film metal, combinations thereof, and/or other such materials.