Leading online retailer and hardware developer, Amazon, appears to have added another string to its bow by securing a patent for the concept of an airbag designed to help prevent damage to the screens of smartphones should the devices be accidentally dropped.

The patent, filed under the name of Amazon founder and chief, Jeff Bezos, reportedly arose following development work on the part of the company’s in-house technology unit.

According to the specification set out in the patent, the airbag’s appearance and inflation would be triggered automatically through a sudden and violent motion – much akin to that which activates the emergence of a protective airbag in a car. The patent states:

“Prior to impact between a surface and a device, a determination of a risk of damage to the device is made. If the risk of damage to the device exceeds a threshold, a protection system is activated to reduce or eliminate damage to the device.”

The mechanism in the smartphone that will be used to detect when this threshold has been reached will, according to the patent, utilise information derived from sensors in the smartphone – including the latter’s camera and gyroscope – to determine the precise point of the airbag’s release.

The patent even reportedly allows for the possibility of activating air-jets to create a glide rather than a direct fall to the ground.

It is thought that a similar protective airbag based on the same patent could be included on other relatively vulnerable devices, including cameras and tablets.

It is not yet clear when the airbag will be publicly available.