In a patent application made public in August 2011, for example, Mr. Bezos is listed as one of two inventors of a "system and method for protecting devices from impact damage."
In other words: an air bag for cellphones.
A drawing in the application shows the system could detect when a gadget is falling and deploy before the thing smacks the ground.
"The protection system," the patent application reads, "causes the device to be reoriented and deploys an air bag prior to contact such that the air bag first contacts the surface at impact. Instead of the cellular phone directly impacting the surface, the air bag absorbs the impact and cushions the cellular phone so that damage is reduced or substantially eliminated."
The famously secretive Mr. Bezos acknowledged that his name is on the airbag-patent application but declined to elaborate on the air bag. "I can't talk about the future road map, I'm sorry," he said in an interview. "I don't even want to say whether or not we're working on it."