Apple has secured a patent for a technology that could reduce the number of broken screens its Genius Bar workers have to deal with. Then again, the device described in the patent may only be reserved for sports enthusiasts because it’s hard to believe such a clunky device would ever become part of Apple’s sleek iPhone.

apple patent iphone
Photo by kropekk_pl (Pixabay)

Patent for spring-loaded bumpers for your iPhone

Patently Apple spotted nearly 40 different patents that were all awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. One of them describes a sort of spring-loaded bumper that would pop out the sides of an iPhone automatically if it feels that the device has been dropped. The patent is titled “Ejectible iDevice with Corner Shock Absorbers that Float.”

The technology is essentially a new type of casing for electronic devices so that they’re better protected against drops or other physical shocks. The bumpers are only deployed from the casing when the device feels as if it has been dropped, and it uses its various sensors, such as the accelerometer, to determine when it’s falling. The patent also states that the shock absorbers may be made from a material that makes the iPhone float.

The patent makes it clear that the spring-loaded bumper may be specifically geared toward athletes who carry their iPhones while engaging in sports, as it states, “Many users carry these devices while engaging in strenuous activities such as running, climbing and the like.”

The patent then goes on to explain that electronic devices are “sometimes dropped or otherwise exposed to shock events involving rapid acceleration or deceleration.”

Would Apple make a special edition rugged iPhone?

This isn’t the first time that Apple has patented a form of technology to protect devices from drops or shocks. The company also patented technology that would supposedly shift the orientation of an electronic device as it falls through the air so that any damage that is done to it might be minimized.

Apple and really, most tech firms, sometimes patent technology that they have no intention of ever using in a real-world device, and this spring-loaded bumper patent seems to fit the bill. For one thing, it doesn’t sound like these bumpers have a place in the ever-thinning iPhone. Patently Apple suggests that the only way this technology might make it into a product is if the company develops a special edition model for athletes and others who need a phone that’s rugged and designed to be carried in risky situations in which it might be dropped.

And maybe this is just the skeptic in me, but would any tech firm have a real interest in protecting its devices so well that they don’t break? After all, they only make money when people buy a new phone, and with Apple being accused by an Australian regulator of purposely bricking iPhones with cracked screens that were repaired by third-party repair people, you can see why I’m skeptical.