updated 06:15 pm EDT, Fri August 12, 2011
Devices protected with propulsion, springs
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and vice president Greg Hart have submitted a patent filing for "a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage." The inventors have stepped well beyond simple rubber cases, however, as the filing describes a number of advanced methods, such as airbags, that are designed to actively minimize damage from an accidental slip.
Many of the potential embodiments take advantage of sensors such as gyroscopes, cameras, infrared beams, or radar. The device would user sensor input to determine spatial orientation and velocity in the event of a fall.
After the system establishes the need to protect the device, the patent filing describes several methods for cushioning impact. Carbon dioxide canisters could quickly inflate an airbag, or mimic thrusters used by satellites to reorient the device or decelerate it before landing. Simpler embodiments describe spring deployment to absorb shock.
It remains unclear if any of the cushioning technology will make its way into production technology. [via GeekWire]