Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Apple’s Patent – Fall Protection System

Fall Protection System
Apple was recently awarded a patent which covered the futuristic iPhone protection system that can detect when a phone is dropped, calculate an estimated point of impact and move its centre of gravity to avoid striking sensitive components.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted the patent for `protective mechanism for an electronic device’, that seems to protect expensive computer hardware from dropping accidentally which has become a familiar problem with the latest slim iPhone designs.

Apple’s latest invention not only estimates where a device may make an impact but also actively shifts the unit’s centre of gravity in order to protect the sensitive components such as glass screens as well as the camera and save them from being damaged.

Apples’ system relies on sensors as mentioned in the patent text to physically monitor device activity and positioning with accepted embodiment leverage on-board accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS that are incorporated already in the new iPhone and iPad models though more advanced designs would be needed for ultrasonic sensors besides other things.

Generated by Positioning of Sensors

The data that is fed in is generated by the positioning of sensors to a central processing unit enabling quick and accurate device positioning determination as it applies to a state of free-fall and when such a situation is detected, the sensors and processor function together measuring the speed of the decent, the time to impact, together with orientation and other metrics.

The processor could then conduct an analysis of the fall by taking the gathered data into consideration against embedded information stored in the device memory. On completion of the calculation, the system then activates a protective mechanism designed to re-position the device in mid-air in order to provide the least damage to the fragile component.

The main example utilises a motor accompanied with eccentric mass which enables to impart a force on a falling phone’s rotational axis thus causing it to land on a preferred site like on its side or back.

Vibrator motor – Adequate to change Angular Momentum

The vibration motor of an iPhone is adequate to change the angular momentum of an iPhone spinning in a free-fall and based on the rate of the spin, angular velocity, time to impact together with other factors, the vibration motor could be powered at higher rotational speed than the normal, thereby effectively managing the momentum and eventually landing angle.

The recent iPhone 6 and 6 Plus of Apple incorporated bespoke linear oscillating motors which do not use eccentrically connected rotational mass while previous model did which means that the patent can easily be worked in to an upcoming variant.

Other exotic embodiments comprises of internal mechanisms which latch on or jettison headphone cables in a free-fall incident while some others involve motors capable of extending and retracting foils in the air or aerodynamic surfaces in controlling landings.

Moving ahead into unconventional are miniaturized gas canister which exert thrust forces in slowing down a fall and moving the weights along an internal track through linear motors. The official patent credit has been granted to Nicholas V King and Fletcher Rothkopf as its inventors.

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