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An Apple patent shows ideas for crack-resistant iPhone airbags filed back in Q2 of 2010. Donald LeBuhn filed a class action lawsuit against Apple about its glass strength misleading consumers last January—maybe he was onto something.

The patent design places a tunable shock-mount-bladder between the glass and surface of the iPhone. Once dropped the shock-mount-bladder reacts instantly by inflating to absorb the drop/fall impact to prevent the glass from shattering.

And Gorilla Glass? Well, yes; Gorilla Glass. Apparently some of that technology is already being used, minus the airbag feature of course, which is also referred to as alumino silicate glass–for you diehard engineers. Other treatments that can be used are sadalime and borosilicate, known to make the glass thermal and shock resistant.

The cover glass has a substantially planar surface, and the tunable shock mount is arranged so as to provide compression and dampening along a direction normal to the planar surface of the cover glass (for illustrative purposes in FIG. 1C, the direction normal to the planar surface is shown by a notional arrow with the legend “N”).

In response to such shock events, the cover glass could resonate. The cover glass could have a corresponding resonant frequency. Similarly, the remaining mass of the electronic device could have a corresponding resonant frequency. The tunable shock mount could be tuned to have a resonant frequency that is substantially lower than the resonant frequencies of the cover glass and the remaining mass of the electronic device. Additionally, the tunable shock mount could be tuned so as to be substantially critically damped.

Head over to Patently Apple and check out the futuristic ideas the Apple engineers have been churning in the labs.


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