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No crash-test dummy

IBM develops airbags for laptops

IBM has launched the world's first laptop incorporating automatic airbags to protect the hard drive if the machine is accidentally dropped or banged.

As laptops get smaller and lighter and therefore more mobile, the risk of them being knocked during transit is becoming more of a problem. Recognising this, IBM has developed its APS (Active Protection System). The technology uses a microchip on the system board to detect system acceleration — caused by a fall, for example. The system immediately responds by temporarily parking the drive's read/write head until the system is stabilised.

On dropping a machine, most damage tends to occur to the screen, keyboard and hard dive, which is prone to crashing. If a system crashes it can cause serious data loss, which IBM believes is its customers' main concern, by cushioning the hard drive in a similar way to airbags in cars, there is much less chance of data loss.

The technology is available on the company's new ThinkPad R50 laptop, which is one of the smallest laptops on the market weighing in at just 6lb and measures a tiny 1.3in in depth. IBM is currently patenting the technology.

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