When was the last time you witnessed the tragedy of someone in public using an iPhone with a completely shattered screen. It was probably yesterday, because unfortunately they are everywhere. The odds are, you’ve been part of that crowd and I would put down a crispy $100 bill that says you don’t ever want to go back.
Well, it may help you sleep a little better tonight knowing that Apple is working to make sure you never have to relive that nightmare. According to AppleInsider the U.S. Patent Office has granted Apple a new patent for an active motorized retractable screen protector.
Yes, it’s a mouthful but the idea is pretty cool and more than anything else it is comforting to know that Apple is actively working to minimize the number of iPhones and in turn users who are stuck looking at their beautifully crafted iPhone Retina displays through patterns of shattered glass.
The patent describes tabs that are installed around an iPhone screen near the four corners. The material of the tabs can differ depending on the materials used in the phone which could be metals, plastics or another suitable materials. The motorized part of the system would activate to extend the tabs above the display in order to protect it from any direct contact with a hard surface.
The most interesting part of the patent is how Apple would handle the job of sensing a drop. At this point it seems that they have a number of possible ideas in mind and may incorporate all of them. The most obvious mechanisms that could perform the task are already installed in the iPhone. The accelerometer and gyroscope have been a part of the iPhone lineup for forever and could be programed to sense a drop event. Other sensors that measure things like altitude would work well too.
One part of the iPhone that I didn’t expect to hear about in the patent is the camera, but according to Apple the camera can detect when it is quickly moving towards an object, in this case the ground, and can be programed to activate the screen protectors. To me it would seem like you would have to drop the phone almost perfectly for that to work but again if all of these methods were incorporated together it may serve a purpose.
Even though this technology may not ever see the light of day in an iPhone I’m glad to see that Apple is putting time and resources into this problem. I personally don’t like covering up the months of design work, I know went into my iPhone, a with case; so the idea of having a better system in place to protect the iPhone from drops is welcomed. It really is a drag to pay all of that money for the most meticulously crafted smartphone in the world only to have one minor drop shatter that gorgeous display into a thousand pieces.
If you are one of the unfortunate members of society that has to worry about getting another small piece of glass stuck in your thumb every time you pick up your iPhone, I hope this bit of information gives you some hope for the future of iPhone durability.