Could Apple’s iPhone 5S Be Smarter and Self-Aware?

TerminatorWhat innovation is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) planning next? If a patent application is to be believed, the company may be looking into making its devices a little smarter and a little more self-aware. The patent filing from Apple shows some novel systems that enable the phone to physically control itself.

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(Disclaimer: Physically self-aware is not cognitively self-aware. The Terminator is not on our doorstep.  Yet.)

When we think about smartphones, we mostly think about the cool features they offer us and the things we can do with them. But if a smartphone is dropped, it stops being all that smart. In fact, it wasn’t very smart at all to fall and not do anything to rectify the situation.

In the near future, Apple’s devices might take care of that intellectual deficiency. A recent patent filed by the company showed a number of physical technologies that could be incorporated into its devices that would allow an iPhone, for example, to modestly control itself in the event of a fall…

The patent described a motor that could be put into the device to control its orientation as it falls, allowing it to avoid landing on sensitive areas. It also described gas containers that could use thrust to control the fall or slow it down. There are some more technologies described in the patent literature that would provide a means to protect the expensive device.

Considering the weight issue — many of these features would increase the weight of the device, which is generally a negative move in smartphone engineering — it may be some time before Apple implements any of these technologies. But any show of this advanced technology could give the company’s products an added wow-factor that other companies don’t have.

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As Apple struggles to compete with Samsung, the global champion of smartphones, it will need as many edges as it can get. It’s been suggested that the company may be including a fingerprint scanner in its next iPhone, but cat-like reflexes could prove to be the “killer feature” that sets the next iPhone apart from the competition.

Here’s how Apple’s stock performed on Thursday:

AAPL March 21

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