No more cracked screens? German engineering student designs an 'airbag' for your phone
Using a phone without a case is great for enjoying the aesthetics and design as intended by the manufacturer, but many people buy cases for their phones to help protect them against drops. Unfortunately, these aren’t always effective at preventing the screen or glass back from cracking because of a drop, even if a chunky ‘rugged’ case will improve the odds.
A German engineering student, Philip Frenzel, has designed a new phone case which provides greater drop protection while avoiding barriers on or around the screen. Described as a “mobile airbag,” the case has spring-like structures in each corner that rapidly deploy when dropped. The springs protect both the front and back of the phone and have a curve that stops the edges from contacting the ground.
Frenzel got the idea for the case after he hung his jacket over some railing and had his brand-new phone fall on the floor and break the screen. A screen replacement worked for a short while before the phone completely died, presumably because of internal damage from the fall.
The case is described as using sensors — probably accelerometer and gyroscope — to detect when it has been dropped. This means that it might accidentally identify rapid hand movements or certain gestures (e.g. Motorola’s double chop to enable flashlight) as the phone being dropped and trying to deploy the springs while still in the user’s hand.
Once deployed, the springs can be folded back into the case ready to be used again. The cavity needed to store sturdy and reusable springs does result in a fairly large hump on the back of the phone, similar to the look of cases with built-in batteries.
Frenzel’s case has won a nation-wide (Germany) mechatronics design award, and a patent application has been filed. Frenzel and fellow student Peter Mayer have founded a start-up business to launch the product via Kickstarter later in July.