That moment when you decline your phone and everything stops. You can hear your nerve thump — the buzz of the world around you is stillness — all cognition stops — you see as if in slow motion the pirouette of your $700 fragment of electronics towards the cement. How will it land? Will you get lucky this time? Or is this it? But if you had this case on it, you’d then see it springtime horns and region with a jaunty bounce.
This “active damping” lawsuit, a little bit like an airbag for your phone, is the brainchild of Philip Frenzel, an engineer at Aalen University in Germany. His idea won the top accolade from the German Society for Mechatronics, which considered programmes from students all over the country, and you can see him explain its genesis in a video here.
Frenzel, like me, doesn’t like compromising his phone’s esthetic with some ugly protective shell, but he likes even less the shattered countenance that unavoidably results from this aesthetic decision.
Why not something that merely deploys when the phone is in danger, then? He got to work. The activating mechanism he arrived at early: sensors that detect when the phone is in free fall and activate the next step.
But what was that step? In his tinkering, he initially thought of installing an actual airbag mechanism on the telephone. But that, and a foam-based alternative, and a few others, simply didn’t demonstrate practical.
Finally inspiration struck. Instead of something soft, why not something springies? Perhaps … springs.
As you see above, what he arrived at is a set of eight thin metal bends that are commonly lie flat inside the lawsuit. But when liberated, they pop out and curl up, protecting the edges of the phone from wallop and softening the jolt substantially compared with a full stop on the concrete.
When you pick up your( hopefully undamaged) telephone, you are only fold the springs back into their holsters, priming them for their next deployment.
Of course, there’s the consideration that having these things deploy while the phone is still in your pocket would be at best embarrassing and at the worst rather painful. One assumes “theres” circumstances in place for that — tapping into the phone’s proximity sensor, for instance, to see if it’s in a pocket or bag.
Frenzel has already applied for a patent, and even published T-shirts with a catchy logo. So this thing is practically for sale. Next stop: Kickstarter.