Earlier this month Apple applied for a patent for a “life vest” for iPhones so they won’t sink if dropped in water. Now Apple has applied for a patent (number 20150341070) ) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a “bumper system” for iOS devices and Mac laptops.
In the filing for the patent, dubbed “screen protection using actuated bumper,” Apple notes the screens of portable electronics devices include one or more fragile elements such one or more layers of glass. Such devices are commonly dropped.
For example, an electronic device may be dropped by a user, fall from a table, fly from a user's hand when a user trips, and/or otherwise free fall to the ground or other surface. Drop events of these or other kinds may damage fragile elements of screens such as glass layers and repairing damage to screens may be “burdensome, expensive, and/or impractical,” according to Apple, who wants to alleviate such possibilities.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “An electronic device includes at least one screen. One or more bumpers are moveable between at least a stowed position where the bumper is flush or below the screen and a deployed position where at least a portion of the bumper projects above the screen. One or more sensors detect when the electronic device is subject to one or more drop events.
“When a drop event is detected, the bumper moves to the deployed position, protecting the screen. In various implementations, the bumper may be moveable by a push-push mechanism or a magnet assisted actuator mechanism. In other implementations, the bumper may include piezoelectric material to which voltage can be applied to move the bumper.”