Jeff Bezos wants to put an airbag in your smartphone

Many of us have experienced the problem: We get careless with our mobile phones, they slip out of our hands, and all of a sudden we’re back at the store replacing a shattered device.

Well, none other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a solution for us: Airbags for phones and other portable devices. Or springs … or a propulsion system.

No joke. And, of course, we know this because he wants a patent on the technology.

Jeff Bezos

A patent application made public this morning lists Bezos and Amazon VP Greg Hart as the inventors of “a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage.”

It starts with a safety monitoring system that would use a gyroscope, camera, infrared beam, radar or other sensors to detect such things as motion, orientation and distance from other objects — then determine in a split second if the device is at risk of damage from impact.

One idea (shown in Fig. 2B above) is to embed one or more small airbags inside the phone, according to the filing. If the device is at risk of damage from a fall, the airbags would instantly inflate via an embedded cartridge of compressed air or carbon dioxide. The monitoring system could either detect which side of the phone will hit the ground, and deploy the airbag there, or pop airbags out of multiple sides of the device.

The patent application goes further — suggesting the possibility of reorienting the device in the air, by expelling gas, so that it lands on the side where an airbag is deployed.

But wait, it gets even nuttier. In another example cited in the application, springs would be deployed instead of an airbag (Fig. 4 above).

And finally, the patent filing outlines a “propulsion element” that would also expel gas to “cause a gentle or safe landing” (Fig. 3 above). Inspired by Bezos’ Blue Origin spacecraft, perhaps?

The patent filing was originally submitted in February 2010, but just became public. Whether or not any of this ever becomes a reality remain to be seen. It seems like a reach to expect airbags in the next Kindle version, or in Amazon’s rumored Android tablets, but who knows?

At the very least, it’s more evidence that Bezos & Co. are thinking a lot about mobile devices these days.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds cool hey, I would also love to have wipers to clear off my screen in the rains ;-)

    • Krawferd

      can i get a horn and sun visors too?

      • Sdasd

        you forgot a glass heater too

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Jeff on this invention! I can’t wait to try out a “Kindle Air” someday.

  • guest

    I think I just expelled some gas reading this.

  • John W Baxter

    Does the accelerometer systems that park hard disk heads in dropped laptops count as prior art? Quite possibly, as the patent speaks of a “device” and a laptop is certainly that. And from that, one skilled in the art could produce the systems for which the patent is being applied for. Now if only patent examiners had time to consider those things these days.

  • Awergtaergt

    Why not just make them out of harder, thicker plastic?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Forhan/1266060598 Dan Forhan

      Because it’s not the plastic that breaks when you drop a phone. It’s similar to the reason that cars are not made with steel bumpers any more; the contents inside of the car (or the phone) are more delicate and it’s more important to keep the insides safe.

  • manny

    maybe make a case that does that…not sure manufacture would have room for that… 

  • Kiran Adimatyam

    this is what innovation means.  

  • Canucker

    Yikes, so when I trip up, my pocketed phone deploys a bag or springs in my crotch? That’s certainly one way to impress the ladies….

  • http://blog.nextblitz.com gzino

    starting the P-Games (cousin to ESPN X Games) with EFOs (electronic flying objects): http://goo.gl/rINoI

  • Youdakidding

    How do they know the phone is dropping? By detecting the free falling action? I will think there may be false alarms if someone jump up and down with their phones, swing their arms with their phone in hands, or plane ride turbulent jerking up and down? Crazy idea, though.

  • Daniel

    pity not had it on my BB YESTERDAY, when I destroyed by bold 9000 by dropping it to the floor and to make matters worse, stepping on it afterwards!

  • http://www.facebook.com/danieleran Daniel Eran Dilger

    Fantastically stupid. Airbags in cars are tremendously dangerous, and are only used because they protect invaluable human life, but with the risk of broken arms and other relatively minor dangers. 

    Few pieces of equipment are worth more than $1000, but having an explosive charge cable of blowing it off the floor would add the risk of inadvertently exploding in a purse, in your hand, or next to your face, where $1000 of cellphone or iPad is nothing compared to the $100,000′s that would be involved in rebuilding your body. 

    Not to mention you couldn’t bring this on a plane. Airbags use very powerful explosives that release toxic gas. The “compressed air or carbon dioxide” specified in the patent wouldn’t do a damn thing to cushion a fragile device in free fall. What a moron.

    What else as Bozos invented? The “click to buy” patent. 

    • Guest

      Such bitterness, Daniel. Why do Jeff’s inventions anger you so?

      • Anonymous

        stupid, frivolous patents should make everyone angry

        • Guest

          Jeff invents. Daniel whines.

          • http://www.facebook.com/danieleran Daniel Eran Dilger

            I guess if you are entertained with stupidity enshrined in patent filings and see a factual destruction of such idiocy as “whining” it would explain why you can’t put your real name on a comment lest the world realize the identity of your vacuous trolling. 

          • Guest

            Keep blogging, Daniel. Not all of us drag our own name through the mud when spewing our drivel at the world.

          • Guest

            Keep blogging, Daniel. Not all of us drag our own name through the mud when spewing our drivel at the world.

          • Guest

            Keep blogging, Daniel. Not all of us drag our own name through the mud when spewing our drivel at the world.

  • Anonymous

    This has got to be one of the most asinine ‘inventions’ I’ve ever heard. Amazon here’s some free advice; stick to selling shit through your ecosystem and leave hardware/software to companies which know what they’re doing. Can’t wait for your tablet, have you chosen a hardware manufacturer yet, is it HTC or Samsung? And depending on Android for the software with your crappy Amazonstore.

  • Happler

    If this existed, how long before it was hacked?  Having some of these go off when I was on the phone would be a little, disconcerting…

  • Scottgjerdingen

    I LOVE IT!  Imagine, being in a crowed elevator which drops suddenly causing the phone in your pocket to “get excited” much to the surprise of you and the lady tightly standing in front of you. What’s that line, “is that a Bezos phone in your pants, or are you just happy to see me” LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jay-Mcquire/100000459764425 Jay Mcquire

    Couldn’t you just put in a gyroscope that keeps the device flat while in the air? That would seriously reduce damage on impact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jay-Mcquire/100000459764425 Jay Mcquire

    Couldn’t you just put in a gyroscope that keeps the device flat while in the air? That would seriously reduce damage on impact.

  • Anonymous

    this makes a lot of sense dude. Wow.

    http://www.anon-vpn.it.tc

  • http://twitter.com/wheresPAUL Paul Sanchez

    Seems like a more practical idea would be to have a case that is made up of 3 or 4 parts and falls apart on impact. So the energy of the impact would go into the case parts that pop off on impact.  

  • http://twitter.com/wheresPAUL Paul Sanchez

    Seems like a more practical idea would be to have a case that is made up of 3 or 4 parts and falls apart on impact. So the energy of the impact would go into the case parts that pop off on impact.  

  • @atenildoneves

    good

  • Bullock

    This is an example of how we abusing pattern registry. Pettern laws should evolve and change. An ideal without workable prototype should be illegible but to allow certain time frame, 6 months to 3 years special right as origin idea. After that, others could have the pattern if workable prototype came up before origin. Cirrent pattern will only kill real innovation by dreamers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/efrizor Buntu Redempter

    Awesome!

  • Mr. Mutt

    Dumbest idea ever.  Nothing in the phone is breakable except the display.  Make unbreakable glass, not putting thrusters on your phone.

  • http://www.chicago.brownhub.com Daily Deals Chicago

    Amazon has come up with ways to pamper your sleek, expensive smartphones even when you drop them by creating an airbag system for phones.

  • http://www.chicago.brownhub.com Daily Deals Chicago

    Amazon has come up with ways to pamper your sleek, expensive smartphones even when you drop them by creating an airbag system for phones.

  • Anonymous

    I got a question.. what happens when I go bungee jumping? with the phone in my pocket?

    • guest

      Hello,
      Turn your phones mode to “bungee jumping” mode :)

    • guest

      Hello,
      Turn your phones mode to “bungee jumping” mode :)

  • Anonymous

    I got a question.. what happens when I go bungee jumping? with the phone in my pocket?

  • Kalata_rs

    It sounds nice….i guess we can expect a diesel version instead of battery as well? 

  • Quivered

    What a crazy idea. If you want an indestructible phone why not just buy a Sonim?

  • Dilanlvrd

    MAKE IT INTO A CASE SO ITS AVAILIABLE TO EVERYONE

  • John Duryea

    You guys are haters. I bet most of you negative Nancies own and/or have stock in ridiculously large iPhone cases.

    I think this is a good idea. Sensors are getting smaller and smaller. Adding a few centimetres and a few grams to a phone to prevent it from being damaged when it falls sounds like a good idea to me.