[Idea] Apple patent to protect your phone screen

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How to avoid breaking your glass screen when you drop your phone? Phones fall down, and sometimes nothing happens and sometime the screen shatters. Can it be avoided? Making the glass thicker is a solution but increases the weight. I got an idea to fix that.

Today I was attending a talk by Mark P Mills on Patent Law at the Notre Dame Law School. He mentioned that Apple had just patented a way to prevent shattered iPhone screens, but he didn´t go to the details, just that he thought it was difficult.

Apple indeed has a patent to protect the hard disk when your laptop falls. They do so by detecting a free fall via accelerometers. When the laptop detects it has been dropped it will park the read/write heads of the hard disk, thus avoiding those heads scratching the surface of the disk when it hits the ground.

But how do they protect the screen? The idea would then be to detect a free fall, and quickly orient the phone in the air so that it touches ground on the back, or on the side, or whatever position is deemed most likely to help survive the phone with minimal damage.

When I wrote this post I didn´t look at the patent, but I thought about it and this my idea: Drop the battery.

Rotating the phone mid air requires a burst of energy. You could get there using puffs of air, but that would take space for the hardware. You could also use gyroscopes (like satellites use) but they are not that quick. You need to move a significant portion of the phone mass to rotate the thing quickly…. the battery.

The idea is then to insert 4 special screws on each corner of the battery. When the accelerometers detect that the phone is falling, it would calculate the momentum of inertia (how exactly is the phone is rotating) and carefully release 2 of the screws to create a counter momentum of inertia that compensates that rotation. As the battery unwinds the rotation is compensated. If the rotation needed is less than the full 90˚ turn, the other 2 screws will also be released, letting the battery separate at the exact moment the phone is properly oriented ( thus reducing also the weight on impact).

To gain more momentum of inertia of the rotation of the battery, one could increase the angular speed using screws with small springs. Here is a quick sketch of the whole thing:

No idea is that is what Apple thought of, but may be there is a chance Apple would finally make replaceable batteries in the end. :)

Update: For reference, as I upload this, I find the Apple patent online. I still thing my solution is better and simpler :)

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