One of the coolest things to have (if we limit the discussion to inanimate things) would be the latest smartphone. One of the worst things to have is the anxiety that floods in when you drop that smartphone.
As any good product engineer knows, there are two ways of dealing with a problem – fix it, or feature it. An example of the first is a recent Apple patent (US 8,903,519 – Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device) which uses onboard sensors and motors to detect a fall and reorient the phone in the safest possible way. Like any good patent (the broader, the better), the methods for re-orienting and/or reducing the fall velocity of the device involve a plethora of ideas, including airfoils, tiny gas thrusters, or possibly ejecting the battery to create a slowing impulse. It would also be straightforward for the software to check warranty status, and decide whether to orient the phone screen down. That would be unethical and of course would never happen.
Some folks at EDO are taking the second approach, betting that there are plenty of adrenaline junkies who would actually enjoy the rush produced by a tumbling $800 gadget. Their Gyro Skate app uses the phone’s built-in gyroscope to power a skateboard-like game which awards points for various tricks (are you game for a 1080, Tony?). You could take all the adrenaline rush out of it by doing this over a bed as EDO “recommends”, but that would look a lot like a different game called “Why Bother?”
For now, the Apple App Store has denied approval for Gyro Skate. Perhaps they will reconsider when they are ready to market their “protective mechanism”.