, , , ,

One of the dangers of having a laptop computer is dropping it and having a major injury to its working components. To some degree laptops are ruggedized, and some even have a quick reset for the hard drive read-write head to move into a more secure locked position. However, the case can easily be cracked, and the keys pop out and the screen ruined and all sorts of other nasty things can happen which generally destroy the laptop computers. For most people this is a serious financial loss as well as a loss of self-created data.

On some of the ruggedized computers and other portable equipment there are built out corners which are filled with shock absorbent foam. But generally these shock absorbers are forced to be relatively small by the trade-off constraints of portability and visual attractiveness. What I am proposing here is to insert some little airbags into the corners which will deploy instantly after the portable device has fallen a short distance. A balloon about 10 cm in diameter could be inflated at each corner, each of which would be large enough to cushion the first impact of falling and the balloons on the other corners would absorb any second and third impacts as the device came to rest.

This device could be made by inserting a standard CO2 cartridge into the laptop with a small pipe, about 5mm, built into the frame of the computer and running around the edge of the body which would add some additional ruggedness. Some computers already have accelerometers built into them for playing games so all the electronics needed is a link and trigger switch to release the CO2 into the piping system. The balloons would be built into all of the corners, perhaps even the screen’s corners, and would appear simply as rubber bumper corners when the computer was in normal use. However, when the computer experienced zero gs for more than a tenth of a second, as when the computer was dropped, the trigger would deploy the gas into the balloons. Below is an image you hope to never see, that of your laptop falling toward the ground.

Falling laptop computer with balloons deployed.

A falling laptop computer with its balloons deployed.

But just as disaster appears inevitable the balloons inflate, and your computer bounces to the floor totally uninjured. The CO2 cartridge, which inflated the balloons, would have to be replaced after each drop, but these can be purchased for under $1 at a hardware store. For this usage a smaller CO2 cartridge could be specially manufactured to fit into the computer better. The balloons would deflate back to their uninflated condition after a small hole built into the tube system allowed the gas to escape or when the cartridge was removed.

An alternative to just having balloons on the corners of the computer would be to have a single balloon built into the edge all the way around. Thus when it deployed it would give an entire wrap around protection.

Laptop computer ballon wrap around impact protecton

A laptop computer balloon wrap around impact protection