By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 21, 2013

FORTUNE — We don’t usually write about Apple’s (AAPL) patents because the company files so many and so few ever see the light of day.

But for Patent Application No. 20130073095, published Thursday and spotted by AppleInsider‘s Mikey Campbell, we’ll make an exception.

It describes a sensor-and-microprocessor system that can detect when an iPhone or iPad is falling and shift the device’s center of balance so that it doesn’t land on its most fragile parts.

Diagrams below courtesy of AppleInsider.

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