PCs with airbags – no joke!

IBM’s ThinkPad range of notebook PCs have always had some useful (and unusual) features in the detail (collectively dubbed as ThinkVantage technologies). For example, the ThinkPad T40 which I was using a few days back had a reading light built into the top of the screen to illuminate the keyboard whilst working in the dark.

We’re all used to cars with airbags to protect the occupants in an impact, but IBM have added an airbag to selected notebook PC models (I kid you not!). Known as active protection system, the feature adds an integrated motion sensor that continuously monitors movement of the notebook to temporarily stop the hard disk if necessary, helping to avoid data loss.

Like an airbag’s sensor, the active protection system can detect sudden changes in motion and park the disk read/write heads within 500ms – helping to prevent head or disk damage (as hard disks are most susceptible to damage whilst active). Once stabilised, the heads return to the normal position and continue working as usual. The technology is even adjustable for environments where vibrations are normal (e.g. on a train).

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