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Apple products could get major upgrades ... eventually

Apple fans could see some fascinating upgrades to their devices if the technology outlined in the company's patents and patent applications actually come to life.

For instance, shattered iPhone screens could be no more thanks to one patented Apple technology.

According to one patent Apple patent, sensors can detect a fall and the weight distribution of Apple devices could be adjusted so that the most destructive impact points could be avoided, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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As a result, iPhones could virtually "land on their feet" the way a cat does, notes DigitalTrends.com.

And Apple could give the stylus a much-needed upgrade. The tech giant filed a patent for an addition to the tool that would include an image-sensing device that can pick up the texture of an object that it scans, according to patent office filings.

The stylus could be used to pick up the texture of fabric, for example, and to create 3-D images to work with computer-aided design software.

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It could be years before many of the technologies in Apple's patents make it into the company's products, according to Maulin Shah, managing attorney at Envision IP, but many of them eventually will.

Apple is selective about the patents it decides to file, and it has a smaller patent portfolio than many of its peers, Shah said.

"Their patents do reflect the work that's coming out of their [research and development]," according to Shah, however.

All told, Apple competitor Samsung has been granted 55,417 patents by the U.S. patent office, far exceeding the 10,942 granted to Apple, according to research firm MDB Capital. And LG Electronics has been granted 18,330 patents, according to the firm.

Samsung and LG have more patents on hardware, including television sets, as opposed Apple's concentration on patents related to design and software, for instance, Shah said.

'Make Me a Millionaire Inventor' premieres tonight at 10p ET/PT on CNBC!