Amazon’s Mobile Airbag: A New Take on Phone Safety

by Matt Klassen on August 15, 2011

A Diagram of the Proposed Mobile Airbag System

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, has taken up the cause of phone safety. No, he’s not particularly concerned about your safety while using your mobile device; no he’s not championing some “Don’t Talk while you Drive” campaign or any other such safety program for that matter. In fact, about the only thing Bezos is trying to do for you is save you from a really big headache.

You see, Jeff Bezos is concerned primarily with the safety of your phone, of the actual physical device itself, and he’s so concerned that he’s filed patents regarding a damage avoidance system designed to protect your mobile device from its number one foe…you.

The reality is, a phone that is used is a phone that is abused, as I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve accidentally dropped or otherwise unintentionally damaged my handset. So, in response to this smartphone crisis, Bezos has registered a patent that might seem more at home in Acme’s catalogue of roadrunner catching paraphernalia…a new system of mobile airbags.

Although the patent itself—designed in conjunction with Amazon VP Greg Hart—was filed back in February 2010, it was only made public late last week, and it has the tech world talking about just how ludicrous some ideas really are. That being said, should companies look to include any sort of impact damage avoidance system in future smartphone designs, they’re now going to need to pay Amazon for the privilege.

The patent proposal itself comes in two parts: The first part of the design deals with an advanced sensor system, one that would likely draw on information gathered from the various components of a smartphone—PC Magazine’s David Murphy lists the gyroscope, the camera, or perhaps an infrared beam as some possibilities—to determine whether or not the phone was in imminent danger, thus deploying the safety system should the device conclude that it has been dropped.

The second part of the design is the safety system itself, the airbags. Presumably designed to cushion the force of the impact of a fall, in much the same way a car’s airbag system cushions the passengers against the force of a collision, the system itself would deploy either a single airbag or a system of multiple airbags by way of compressed gas canisters located within the device itself.

Simply put, in the few microseconds it takes for your phone to slip from your fingers and smash into the concrete sidewalk, your phone would calculate that it was at risk and deploy the airbags.

While all of this may sound a little ludicrous, as with many patents it’s not so much about the particulars of the patent as it is about what the patent actually covers, and this one covers a lot. Although the particulars of the application cover a strange mobile airbag system (a response to a problem that a good phone case already solves), broadly speaking the application covers the idea of a “system and method for protecting devices from impact damage.”

This means, should any other company design some sort of damage avoidance, shock absorption, impact reducing safety system, Amazon will have to be brought in on the deal…unless of course that company is Apple.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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