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.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

More in News & Comment

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Joann and Allan Thomas are flanked in court by their attorneys Terrence Kellogg (fourth from the right) and John Henry Browne (far right) on May 10, 2022. Judge Richard Jones is presiding over the case. Sketch by Seattle-based artist Lois Silver
At drainage district corruption trial, it’s a tale of dueling conspiracies

Allan and Joann Thomas are in trial in Seattle on fraud charges.

Most Read