Smartphone case acts as 'airbag,' pops open to prevent falling phones from cracking

It's a fear many smartphone users are familiar with — the panic that consumes your body as you watch your phone drop to the ground, praying the screen isn't cracked as you turn the device over.

Philip Frenzel, a 25-year-old master's student at Aalen University in Germany, knew the feeling all too well. So, he decided to create a product to help prevent any damage from occurring. He calls it the "mobile airbag," formally known as the "active damping" case.

The case, which took Frenzel four years to design, is equipped with sensors that detect when a phone is falling. When the sensors activate, they trigger four springs — located on each corner of the case — to unfold and poke out in two directions, preventing the phone from hitting the ground.

When you pick the device up, you can fold the "set of eight thin metal curls" back inside the case, TechCrunch reports, adding that the case is patent-pending.

However, those bouncy springs may not offer 100 percent protection. If your phone is dropped on an uneven surface there's still a possibility it could get damaged.

Frenzel's invention is still a hit, though. It won a top award from the German Society for Mechatronics in 2018

"In his thesis, Philip Frenzel impressively shows how a mechatronics engineer systematically and purposefully approaches a problem and develops a technically feasible and economically viable solution," Prof. Rolf Biesenbach, chairman of the German Society for Mechatronics, said in an online statement about the device.

The 25-year-old engineering student plans to post the product on crowdfunding site Kickstarter in July, hoping it takes off.

"We want to be able to finance our livelihood with it," Frenzel added. "In short, we hope for a hype."