Feeds

Jeff Bezos patents retro jets, and airbags, for telephones

Amazon man protecting your pocket tech

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A patent filed by Jeff Bezos and Amazon VP Greg Heart suggests using a phone's accelerometer to detect when it is falling, and deploying tiny airbags to cushion the impact.

The patent application was filed in February, but only just made public and remains some way off from being awarded. It was noticed by Geekwire, who spotted the names of Amazon's CEO and VP listed as "inventors", presumably in the expectation that eventually someone will decide to deploy in-phone airbags and thus have to hand over licence fees.

Phone coming into land on retro jets

There's one with little springs too, but this is the most photogenic

Not that airbags are the only mitigation technology suggested by US Patent Application number 20110194230. Jets of gas could be used to slow the descent or to flip the falling handset over to present an airbag-protected surface, or to present a surface covered in springs deployed in an Inspector Gadget style.

In the process of establishing risk, the patent doesn't limit itself to acceleration, but also suggests that a laser rangefinder might be able to judge the speed of an approaching ground while the surface of the phone could detect if it was safely nestled in a bag or falling alone through an uncaring sky.

But speed and distance aren't everything: you also need to know if the approaching surface is a comfy duvet or an unforgiving tarmac road. Here the handset might like to use X-rays, or old-fashioned radar, to establish the overall risk to its wellbeing, before deciding whether to deploy the jets and/or airbags.

It all sounds a bit farfetched to us, but we already have phones that scream when they're dropped, and laptop hard drives have long been able to park their heads prior to an anticipated impact, so perhaps we're being too unimaginative.

Whatever the future of mobile phones, we can be sure that whoever owns the patents will end up owning the world, so having one for in-handset airbags might not be as stupid as it appears to be. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.