NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It took decades for cars to get airbags, but Amazon (AMZN) chief Jeff Bezos already has plans to get the safety feature into portable devices.

In a clear sign that Amazon has its eyes on further expansion in the mobile industry, Bezos, along with software chief Greg Hart, filed for a patent Thursday to protect devices from impact, according to an application uncovered by GeekWire.

The system apparently senses when a device is falling and, using a jet that "deploys a gas from the portable device," tries to direct the fall so that it lands on the airbag side of the device.

It's not clear whether Amazon is engineering for future Amazon mobile devices or for the good of the industry. The patent application does cite one report that says: "One out of three cellular phones are damaged or lost in the first year of ownership."

So why would Amazon care about protecting phones unless the company had plans to enter the smartphone race?

Already the dominant player in the e-reader industry with its Kindle, Amazon has plans to attack Apple (AAPL) in the tablet market this holiday season with a Google (GOOG) Android-powered super Kindle. The device is expected to be priced in the $300 range, which would significantly undercut the $500-and-above Apple offerings.

Could smartphones be too far a stretch for Amazon? Not if they were equipped with a unique money-saving feature -- like, say, an airbag. Amazon shares, which are up 60% in the past year, rose 2% to close at $202.30 Friday.

(AAPL) (GOOG) --Written by Scott Moritz in New York. To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: Follow Scott on Twitter at MoritzDispatch