This ingenious protective case for a mobile phone is a great example of thinking outside the box. The design relies on feedback from sensors that detect that it's falling. Now why didn't we think of this sooner? It would have saved thousands of devices from being trashed.
Described as a mobile airbag. because it deploys automatically prior to impact, this invention, ADCASE, recently won the top award from the German Society for Mechatronics after German universities were invited to submit their best bachelor engineering theses.
The winner Philip Frenzel, from Aalen University, has already registered for a patent and in this video you can see him repeatedly dropping his phone without it ever coming to any harm.
ADCASE contains sensors that detect when the phone is in free fall, and then activate metal springs that pop out and curl up, providing a springy cushion that stops the edges and the surfaces of the phone from landing on the ground - or whatever else you’ve just dropped them on. Once you've picked up the phone simply fold the springs back into the case and pretend nothing ever happened. You could even try looking cool as if you intended to drop it.
Frenzel worked on the invention for about two and a half years, and now he’s planning on making it a commercial product, starting firstly with the iPhone. He and his team are embarking on a Kickstarter to raise funds - and as anyone with a smartphone will want one it is bound to be a big success.
It raises the idea that we might be able to retrofit such protection to all sorts of objects. It's easy enough with, say, an Arduino, or better a BBC Microbit which has an accelerometer as standard. All you have to work out is how to protect the device - a real airbag for example - and then write the code to detect a drop and fire the actuators.
Hmm, come to think of it I can think of a few people who might like to be kitted out with something similar...
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