Jeff Bezos' Smartphone Airbag

The Amazon CEO's ridiculous patent that never was.

Sometimes thinking like a genius has its advantages. And sometimes it just makes you forget that there are much simpler solutions to some of life's more mundane problems. Take the problem of smartphones. Or more specifically, the fact that while they have become ever more central to our lives, they haven't become any less breakable. According to a recently unearthed patent filed in February of last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has thought about this problem a lot. And the solutions he's come up with to combat smartphone fragility are precisely the kind you'd expect from a billionaire tech whiz who, were it not for male-pattern baldness, would still look like a mad-scientist Boy Scout rather than the middle-aged man he actually is. Because in Bezos' world, protecting a smartphone means turning it into a gadget worthy of James Bond. First there's the gyroscope-aided safety monitoring system that would anticipate if your smartphone is about to meet its doom. Then there are the carbon dioxide-primed air bags that would deploy should it slip out of your hand. Not satisfied with simply turning that refurbished, eBay-bought iPhone into a safety-laden Volvo station wagon, Bezos goes even further. At one point, the patent describes a "propulsion element" that would expel gas in order to "cause a gentle or safe" landing. Which means that if Bezos had his way, your smartphone would be indistinguishable from a hovering Harrier jet (price tag: $15 million). Of course, if he didn't think like a genius, Bezos wouldn't have all this time to sit around and file patent applications for preposterously silly smartphone add-ons. Which means he wins, as usual. As for the rest of us non-genius types with at-risk phones, we'll just have to do what comes naturally: Go to Amazon and buy a $10 case.

 
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