How many of you have dropped your phone at least once? I’m sure that some of you might be shaking your heads right now, but I’m certain that most of you have experienced dropping your phones at one point. It is heart-stopping, and I mean that literally. You hold your breath, sometimes even say a little prayer, as you watch your expensive phone tumbling to the ground. You silently hope that when you come to pick it up, the screen will be unscathed.
The good news is that a mechatronics engineering student has created a “mobile airbag” that deploys automatically when you drop your phone, which protects it from potential damage.
The Idea and Where it Came From
Philip Frenzel, a 25-year-old Master’s student at Aalen University in Germany, is the one who invented the mobile airbag. He calls it an “AD Case”, which stands for “active damping”. The case can sense when your phone is in free fall and releases metal prongs to protect it from damage.
Frenzel came up with this idea after he accidentally broke his phone by leaving it in a jacket and then throwing the said jacket over a banister. The impact had caused the electronics inside the phone to break. So, he began looking into developing something that could prevent dropped phones from breaking.
Frenzel wanted something smaller and advanced rather than big and bulky. He eventually stumbled on the idea of using mechatronics to create his ideal case, and after four years of tinkering, he created a “mobile airbag” that opens up from the corners of a thin case when sensors detect that it’s in free fall.
More about the AD Case
The AD Case basically relies on sensors, which prompts the release of four springs that cause the phone to bounce when it hits the ground, making it possible to avoid scrapes and cracks on devices.
The dampers are pushed into their “airbag” position with the use of metal springs, and they help to absorb the impact of the fall in order to protect a device’s screen as well as its inner components.
After the “airbag” has been deployed, the dampers can be pushed back into the case, which means you can use it again. The innovative case easily attaches itself to the back of a phone with its blue legs tucked into a small rectangular box, which can easily be dismissed as a battery.
The AD Case is but a mere 4.9 mm thick, yet its solid and well-made legs provide a safe three-centimeter buffer when it is fully extended.
Plans on Commercializing the AD Case
At present, the “mobile airbag” or AD Case is not yet available for purchase in the market. Conversely, Frenzel has already acquired a patent, and he is planning on commercializing his invention through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.
Notably, Frenzel also received an award from the German Society of Mechatronics. The said society was so impressed by Frenzel’s invention that it awarded him its national Mechatronics Prize for 2018.
Maybe someday someone will invent a similar “airbag” device for other gadgets, such as professional cameras and lenses.