Anyone who’s ever owned an iPhone knows the heart-wrenching horror that comes with accidentally dropping it. Seemingly everyone has cracked or shattered their iPhone screen at one point or another: The phone isn’t particularly sturdy, and once it’s left your grasp, all you can do is hope for the best.
This is probably one of the biggest complaints people have about the iPhone — but it looks like Apple might finally be trying to do something about it. Last week, the tech powerhouse filed a patent for an electronic bumper system that detects when the phone has been dropped, and activates “multiple screen protectors” in order to eliminate the impact. Officially filed as “Active Screen Protection for Electronic Device,” the patent is for moveable screen protectors that switch between a retracted and extended position to create a gap between the screen and, well, wherever you’ve dropped it.
“When the sensor detects a drop event, the screen protectors move from the retracted to extended position, functioning as a shock absorber and preventing the screen from connecting with a surface that the electronic device contacts,” the patent reads.
After everything’s all clear, the screen protectors retract back into their original resting place thanks to tiny motors built into the phone. We think the whole thing sounds straight out of The Jetsons, but it might have some serious potential. While there may be a few technicalities the company still has to work out, it sounds like it could be a great first line of defense against a shattered screen.
“Electronic devices, particularly portable electronic devices, may be subject to various drop events. For example, an electronic device may fall from a table, fly from a user’s hand when a user trips, and/or otherwise fall to the ground or other surface,” the patent explains, simultaneously describing a typical day in my life. “The present disclosure discloses systems, apparatuses, and methods for active screen protection.”
Of course, it’s important to note that Apple has only filed a patent for this, and hasn’t yet put its new idea into production. As Yahoo reports, “Despite the latest iPhone 6s and 6s Plus using improved Corning Gorilla Glass as well as a tougher Series 7000 Aluminium chassis, the handset’s screen is the weakest part and is prone to shattering when it takes a bad fall.”
In fact, it’s totally possible that the idea will never see the light of day — but Apple still wants to own the rights, just to be safe. Until then, we’ll stick to a sturdy phone case.
(Images via iStock, Apple.)