Apple Gets Patent for iPhone Display Shock Absorber

Source: iPhone 4S | Apple

When majority, if not all, of mobile phone owners accidentally drop their device, the first thing they usually check after picking it up is the screen. Thus, anything that increases the survival rate of their handset’s display after a drop will be appreciated.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple the patent for a shock-absorbing rubber coating, which will help protect the fragile components like the glass display of iPhone. Titled as Viscoelastic Material for Shock Protection in an Electronic Device, the U.S. Patent No. 8,248,777 describes a “boundary element” that can deform in reaction to an impact incurred by a device. As stated on the patent application’s abstract:

This invention is directed to the reducing effect of shocks on electronic device components. The electronic device component may be surrounded by a boundary element operative to deform in response to impacts. By deforming, the boundary element may be operative to absorb energy received by the shock or impact without passing the energy on to the electronic device component.

How the Shock-absorbing Rubber Coating Works

The patent was filed with the USPTO last September 2008, and the invention was credited to Christopher Prest. It describes the placing of an elastic material around the device’s components. This is designed to absorb at least part of an impact if the object is dropped or hit in some way.

In the case of Apple’s iPhone, a thin rubber bezel is used between the Gorilla Glass display and the exterior bezel of the device. The rubber screen gasket and seal found on the mobile phone is actually part of its frame assembly. Its tiny layer provides a tight seal and flush appearance to the front of Apple’s iOS devices.

Although the material doesn’t need to be made of rubber, it would be ideal if it had dominant elastic properties that would be used in a “large impact scenario,” or when an iPhone is dropped from a great distance. It would also have viscous properties that would be dominant in “small impact scenario” or smaller drops that occur more frequently.

After officially acquiring the patent for an iPhone display shock absorber, the U.S. Patent No. 8,248,777 will definitely become an addition to Apple’s mounting pile of patents. The company appears to be securing a handful of patents these recent months, as they gear up for a so-called product launch this September. Whether this new patent will be available to the next-generation iPhone remains to be seen.

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