One way to protect a delicate device like a smartphone is to wrap it in layers of shock-absorbing rubber and plastic. Now, that can mean a case or you can simply build the handset out of those materials in the first place. Obviously, Apple is kind of attached to the premium feel of glass and metal, so the company is proposing another solution. A patent application discovered today suggests using a mechanism to shift the center of gravity or orientation of a device if sensors on board indicate it is falling.
The sensors in question are pretty standard fare: accelerometers, gyroscopes, etc... but some of the countermeasures are quite unique. Shifting weights could be hidden under the hood, but other proposals include a locking headphone jack that would prevent the phone from hitting the ground, airfoils and even a reserve of gas for thrust. Many of the solutions are more than just a little impractical, especially when trying to design the sleekest smartphone possible. The concept could also be used in laptops and tablets, but it would certainly be most useful in shatter-prone mobile devices like the iPhone. If you really like digging through patent minutia check out the source link.