Apple was granted a patent on Tuesday (first reported by AppleInsider) that outlines technology that would change an iPhone’s angle if it’s in free fall. The goal would be to break the fall and protect sensitive components like phone screens.
According to the patent, built-in technology could estimate a point of impact and then shift the device’s center of gravity to save iPhones from an early grave. This would work by using the iPhone’s inner vibration motor and processor. The motor, in theory, would shift the device’s mass to rotate it before impact and would work in tandem with the phone’s sensors (like accelerometers and gyroscopes) to keep an eye on the phone’s positioning.
The patent also presents some other (weirder) ideas from Apple The patent also presents some other (weirder) ideas from Apple. One example: An iPhone could latch onto or eject headphone cables during free fall. The document also briefly outlines a strange “thrust mechanism” that uses a gas canister to change the phone’s orientation.
Because it’s common for companies like Apple to file patents for all sorts of ideas, it doesn’t necessarily mean this system will come to iOS devices anytime soon, if ever. AppleInsider notes that the latest iPhone 6 models use a different motor than the one described in the patent, which is closer to previous iPhones, so it’s unclear if the idea is even still on the table.