Forget 4G and GPS; future phones could have airbags!


Updated. So did you hear the one about the smartphone, the airbags and a duck-billed platypus? Me neither; besides, the platypus is extinct and really never got the respect it deserves. There actually is news of smartphones and airbags in the same sentence, though. If you can believe it, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and of Om’s favorite tech leaders, has patented an airbag system for dropped smartphones. And that’s no joke!

I’m not sure if Bezos has been sniffing too much eInk from Kindles or what, but this is a real patent with a detailed description and some lovely drawings to accompany it. Yes, there’s a need to protect our precious smartphones from drops (or throws against the wall when that last Angry Birds pig smiles a toothy grin), but airbags? Actually, I’m being too hard on the design, since it allows for little springs to pop out of the device as well. Of course, as anyone who has dropped buttered toast can tell you, a falling smartphone with springs or airbags is sure to land on the non-protected side.

If this all sounds far-fetched and you don’t expect future phones to have “damage avoidance systems”, no worries. The patent applies to wide range of other devices as well, such as “personal data assistants, electronic media players, electronic book readers, notebook computers, netbook computers, tablet computers, barcode scanners, cameras, video cameras, pagers, portable video game consoles, video game controllers and the like as each are susceptible to damage and/or loss.”

Yup, ┬ájust like you: I can hardly wait for a future when my gadgets are more protected than the passengers in my car. And speaking of the future, maybe Amazon should add Sleeper, Woody Allen’s classic look at tomorrow, to the Amazon Unbox video service. Once the company does that, Bezos will surely see that Woody Allen has a better, all-encompassing protection method that may even qualify as “prior art” in the patent world.

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