Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170317707) for “drop countermeasures for electronic device,” which is designed to make iPhones, iPads, and perhaps even Mac laptops less likely to sustain damage if dropped.
The invention involves active protection systems for devices subject to potential hazards including dropping, shock, and impact. In particular, the disclosure relates to active countermeasure and damage mitigation systems suitable for a range of different electronic devices, including, but not limited to, mobile and cellular phones, smartphones, tablet computers, personal computers, personal digital assistants, media players, and other electronic devices.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that electronic devices are subject to a wide range of different environmental effects, including temperature extremes, humidity, physical contamination, and potential loss or damage due to physical hazards including dropping, shock, compression and impact. These considerations can be particularly relevant to portable electronic and mobile device applications, where sensitive control and display components may be exposed to the external environment, increasing the risk of damage due to accident or misuse.
Apple says that a number of alternatives have been advanced to address these concerns, but there remains a need for improved techniques suitable for advanced consumer electronics and other digital device applications, without all the limitations of the prior art. In particular, the company says there’s a need for active drop damage mitigation and impact countermeasure systems, suitable for modern electronic devices designed for an ever-wider range of operating environments, and exposed to a correspondingly wider range of environmental risk factors, including dropping, shock, compression, impact, and other potentially adverse operational effects.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.