Last week, we saw two major shifts in the tech industry: Google announced that it will be acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash and Hewlett-Packard revealed that it will be shifting its business away from the consumer space to become the sort of company IBM is nowadays. It sure was a serious week for the tech industry, so this week, let’s take a break and see the future of smartphones as seen by an insider in the tech industry. That is, the future of smartphones as envisioned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
If Bezos’ and Amazon Vice President Greg Hart’s patent application is any indication, the duo envisions a future where smartphones have tiny airbags, jet propulsion, springs, or a combination of the three to save these little nifty devices in the event that they come crashing down to the floor. “Really?” you may ask. Yes. Really.
Just to prove to you that yes, Bezos and Hart are really serious about their thoughts, here is the published information straight from the United States Patent and Trademark Office about their patent application. The application, titled “Protecting Devices From Impact Damage,” was published on August 11 but was filed February 11, 2010. The application indicates inventors as Grergory Hart and Jeffrey Bezos.
Sounds interesting, to say the least and maybe funny, too, if you find the idea of a smartphone deploying miniature airbags, kind of like the ones you see in cars, to be an odd feature for future smartphones. Bezos and Hart are, however, dead serious about the application.
In the patent application, the duo describes a system which also includes a monitoring mechanism employing a camera, and other sensors like a gyroscope, infrared beams or laser beams to let the device know if it is falling and how it is falling. The system will detect the orientation of the device, if the device is turning mid-air and the distance of the device from any object including the ground. In the blink of an eye, this system then determines if the fall will significantly damage the device and decides which measures it will take to prevent just that.
And those measures include airbags, jet propulsion, springs or a combination of the three. Nice.
In the case of airbags, tiny airbags will be integrated into the chassis of the device, ready to be deployed once the safety system detects it needs them. According to the filing, a cartridge of compressed air or carbon dioxide set in the chassis will inflate the airbags. Cool, right? But I can also imagine a potentially awkward situation wherein the device – falsely detecting a fall while you’re in an elevator with a woman – puffs up while it’s in your pants’ pocket. “Is it me, or do you have one of those Bezos puff phones?” That would be interesting.
With jet propulsion, Bezos and Hart imagine the safety system could reorient the device to give it a safer landing. Holes in the device will be where jets of air will be expelled. The same air propulsion could also be used to get the device to have “a gentle or safe landing”. As if that isn’t enough, Bezos and Hart also included the possibility of including springs into the chassis of a device which will also deploy like the airbags in case of a fall.
The Amazon executives seem to have a lot of spare time and very playful and creative imaginations. I wonder, however, what it would cost to reset the airbags, refuel the air thrusters and put the springs back into the device after it has safely landed. That’s an added cost, right? But who knows, we might see this in a “Kindle Air” someday.
Come to think of it, why did Bezos’ and Hart’s patent application show diagrams of what looks like a smartphone? Is this an indication that the Amazon executives are spending their spare time thinking of smartphones? This might be far-fetched, but this might be a hint there could be an Amazon Kindle Phone in the works. And the funny thing is, no matter how ridiculous people think this patent application is, we might actually see an airbag-, jet propulsion- and springs-equipped smartphone in the future if an Amazon Kindle Phone materializes.
Tell us what you think and leave a comment.