We've seen inflatable helmets, so we suppose that the jump to integrated airbags was just another step forward for today's technology.
The man that has patented deployable airbags for consumer electronics devices is none other than Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive officer. He has partnered with co-inventor Gregory Hart.
describes a system that, through use of an accelerometer, determines if a smartphone has been dropped and activates a “safety monitoring system” based on the velocity of the fall and distance from the ground.
The safety system calculated how damaging an impact could be (somehow taking into account the nature of the surface about to be hit) and deploys an airbag, or releases jets of gas that slow the plunge. That, or the jets make sure the device lands on the airbag.
There are several ways for determining what type of surface the item is bound to land on: infrared sensors, radar, x-ray, image recognition technology, etc.
No clue when, if ever, the concept will be put into practice.