Dec 19th, 2012

There have been a lot of inventions and innovations to behold over the years. Many advances have been made in mobile alone, including small cameras, mini projectors, NFC chips and more. All of that may not seem amazing in the here and now — we’re quite used to the usual bells and whistles of today’s smartphones, after all. But I bet not many have ever thought about this one: airbags.

That’s right, what would you say to a phone that came with a working airbag system? The idea was put in the spotlight by the Interesting Engineering Google+ account. Said system would use sensors which could calculate sudden changes in velocity and direction to determine if a phone is about to fall, and would react as a car would following sudden impact.

The airbags would protrude from the top and bottom of the phone, creating a nice air-cushioned buffer between the point of impact and the phone itself to protect it from any damage. The illustration also shows how the phone could emit jets of air to change the phone’s trajectory before it slams against the pavement or whatever it is about to hit.

I can’t think of any OEM that would be crazy enough to implement such a thing even if it is possible to engineer in a practical way. For starters, doesn’t a simple shock-absorbing case suffice for most people? Heck, even bumper cases can provide enough protection against your typical drops and tumbles. Also, what customer is going to want to have to restore the airbags after each and every drop?

And to that fact, who’s going to want to deal with the headaches of false readings? I’m not sure how precise a sensor would have to be to make sure it doesn’t become a problem, but I surely wouldn’t want my phone to vomit bags and air if I decided to jump for whatever reason. Still, it’s an interesting idea that makes you wonder what more could be done to help protect users’ smartphones.

Apparently this technology has been patented by someone but we can’t seem to find any details on that. Interesting Engineer suggests patents exist not only for airbag mechanisms inside phones, but inside cases, as well. It could be a very nice piece of tech for case manufacturers to present to those working in conditions where drops might be common, such as construction.

It’s not something I’d want on my smartphone full time, but if I could buy a case to take on days where I think I might need added protection it would be nice to have. There are a lot of questions surrounding the idea, but it all comes down to this: would you buy one? Be it a phone or a case, would you accept the airbags movement?

Almost everything under the sun has been done in terms of smartphones so it wouldn’t surprise us that someone — anyone — is already looking at doing something like this to give them the edge that’s needed to make noise in today’s crowded market. Be sure to vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts with a quick comment.

[Update]: After further review, it looks like this is Amazon’s doing. Oh, Amazon. Now bring us a smartphone. Thanks everyone!