No More Cracked iPhone Screens: Apple Awarded ‘Bumper’ Patent To Protect Falling Phones From Breakage

Will cracked iPhone screens soon be a thing of the past? It seems that iPhone users can rejoice in a future free from the demise of the fragile glass phone screens. Apple was awarded a patent for screen “bumpers” that were designed to automatically extend when a phone is dropped. The bumpers would protect the device by stopping the phone’s fragile glass screen from hitting the floor during impact. The patent was submitted back in 2014 and was awarded to the tech company yesterday.

Apple patent
Figure of the bumpers in work as provided by patent details. (Image via United States Patent and Trademark Office)

The Daily Mail reports that cracked iPhone screens may no longer be an issue for future models as Apple was awarded a patent on phone “bumpers.” The patent, which was awarded to Apple yesterday, details a “retractable bumper” device that can be used to prevent damage to the glass phone screens. The bumpers are designed so that they are only extended when the phone is determined to be falling. The device includes the bumpers themselves along with the sensors needed to determine when a phone is free falling to the ground.

The new technology was aptly named “active screen protection for electronic device” in the patent paperwork and details how the bumpers and sensors work together to protect the phone’s screen. The overall idea is simple with bumpers extending when sensors detect a “drop event.”

“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.”

Will future iPhone devices include screen protection technology? (Photo by Cole Bennets/ Getty Images)

The patent details the technology needed to accurately detect when a phone was being dropped to the ground. The technology included GPS, acceleration sensors, a gyroscopes and ultrasonic emitters. The technology would work together to determine the location and speed of a device in real-time, allowing the device to activate the extension of the “bumpers” as it made the descent to the ground. Each method of detection could be used to determine a “drop event.” For example, an accelerator detector could identify when a phone is making a sudden increase in speed, a sign that the phone may have been dropped. Additionally, the phone’s camera could also detect a drop event by analyzing the images it is seeing through the camera lens. The sensors are also capable of detecting when a phone has hit the ground and will retract the bumpers when the phone is no longer in motion.

Though the new patent was approved, Apple has not outlined any specific details on when or if the product will be made available on future iPhone models. However, it is evident that Apple is trying to do something to help prevent cracked iPhone screens as another screen protecting patent was issued to the tech giant last year. The other piece of technology was designed to force the iPhone to “flip” midair when it was falling to the ground resulting in the phone always landing on its back instead of the sensitive glass front. The phone flipping patent also required the same “drop detection” technology as the bumper device such as GPS, acceleration detection, and a gyroscope to detect instability.

Patent for Apple
Figure that shows the location of the sensors and bumpers from the new Apple patent. (Image via United States Patent and Trademark Office)

What do you think about future “drop detection” technology being used on iPhone devices? Would you purchase an iPhone with the capability of detecting when it was dropped?

[Photo by Ken Ishii/ Getty Images]