Cellphone airbags could have saved this phone. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Andrew Mager/Flickr)

If you’ve ever had a cracked cellphone screen or broken another part of your smartphone, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with handset insurance and wait for replacement parts. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is filing a patent application for cellphone airbags along with Amazon VP Greg Hart. The phone slips from your grasp, collision detection clicks in and airbags deploy for a happy landing.

Airbags, springs and propulsion

What is known at this stage is that Bezos and Hart have applied to patent “a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage.” The patent paperwork suggests this can be achieved through the use of airbags, springs and a kind of propulsion system, reports Geek Wire. A gyroscope, camera and other detectors like radar and infrared projectors appear to work to determine motion of the cellphone and its distance from other objects. It appears that if impact damage appears imminent, cellphone airbags will deploy.

Tiny cellphone airbags

In one model proposed by Bezos and Hart, an installed inflation cartridge pumps either compressed air or carbon dioxide into the small cellphone airbags that are installed around multiple sides of the smartphone, be it an iPhone, Android or something similar. It is unclear exactly which smartphones will carry the cellphone airbags.

A different model uses deployed springs instead of airbags to absorb the shock. Yet another model involves propulsion; reports indicate that once an equipped smartphone detects an oncoming collision, the side facing the ground will emit a jet of propulsive gas to bring the phone down softly, like a lunar lander.

Not a new patent

Jeff Bezos filed the Amazon cellphone airbags patent in February 2010, but news of the project just became public. With this kind of technology in Amazon’s hands, it seems obvious that devices like the Kindle and Amazon’s potential Android tablets will bear these safety devices, according to various sources.


Cellphone airbag patent application: http://bit.ly/qJOOms

Geek Wire: http://www.geekwire.com/2011/jeff-bezos-put-airbag-smartphone

PC World: http://www.pcworld.com/article/237997/amazon_ceo_invents_airbags_for_your_cell_phone.html

Short List: http://www.shortlist.com/cool-stuff/gadgets/the-mobile-phone-airbag#image-rotator-2

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