The innovative technology makes use of the motion-sensors that are now built into most smartphones to detect when it has entered an airborne state, so that a mini-airbag can be deployed to cushion its fall.
The idea comes from the burgeoning technology department at Amazon, which won a patent for the protective system this week. As well as mobile phones, the technology could be used on electronic readers, including the online retailer’s own Kindle, as well as computer tablets and cameras.
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, filed the application for a patent himself. It reads: “Prior to impact between a surface and a device, a determination of a risk of damage to the device is made. If the risk of damage to the device exceeds a threshold, a protection system is activated to reduce or eliminate damage to the device.”
The airbag would draw on data from a mobile phone's built-in gyroscope, camera, accelerometers and other such sensors, according to the patent. Then, if it is determined that the gadget has been dropped, the technology will trigger the release of airbags and could even include air-jets to change its trajectory in mid-air.
While there is no indication of when the protective system will be available, it is clear that there is a large market for it. In the UK alone, tens of millions of pounds are spent on iPhone repairs each year.