A possible feature on future Apple devices may be just the solution customers who know the pain of shattering their iPhone screens have been hoping for. The company filed a patent, published Thursday, in April 2014 with the United States Patent and Trademark office that details a concept for having sensors capable of protecting an iPhone from breaking into pieces by automatically extending tiny fenders along the screen's edges in the event of a sudden drop.
"When the sensor detects a drop event, the screen protectors move from the retracted to extended position, functioning as a shock absorber and preventing the screen from connecting with a surface that the electronic device contacts," the patent notes.
An illustration of the sensors included in the patent appears to show the new features located near the very edges of the glass screen, in between the glass and metal surfaces of the iPhone.
Another image shows the feature during a drop. The sensors protrude from the device at the top and bottom of the screen, ensuring the entire glass portion of the device is protected from a sudden fall.
Yahoo reports the "active screen protection" will use the device's camera and microphone to help detect a drop, and will automatically retract its sensors after the fall is over.
However, the patent may never actually be implemented with any future Apple device, Yahoo reports. Filing a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office simply ensures none of Apple's competitors are able to use the active screen protection concept in any of their devices. The move follows increased competition among mobile devices in the tech industry, while new Android devices are becoming waterproof and more durable than ever before.
For now at least, Apple customers will just have to splurge on a decent phone case in order to avoid that painful moment of picking up a broken iPhone and swiping fingers over broken glass.