Corning's Gorilla Glass does a fine job of keeping smartphones relatively safe against typical bumps and scrapes, but given how common it is to hear about cracked displays, there's obviously plenty of room for improvement. Hoping to provide such an advancement, two enterprising Cambridge University students have made a new product that supposedly boosts the impact resistance of Gorilla Glass by up to five times.

Called Rhino Shield, the new screen protector is installed on top of your smartphone's display and its special blend of patent-pending polymer gives your device greater protection from shock, scratches and fingerprints. Although there are many other screen protectors around, the developers say Rhino Shield is unique because it has impact dispersion and dampening layers that help diffuse blows against a device.

In the team's demo video (embedded below), Rhino Shield is shown saving the iPhone from direct strikes with a hammer and other tools, it spares the device from what would otherwise be a fateful drop on concrete, and it shrugs off the impact of a 255g metal ball bearing falling from 48cm, whereas the unprotected Gorilla Glass 2-equipped handset shatters after being struck by the same ball bearing from only 9cm.

Given that it has extra layers not found on similar products, Rhino Shield is a little thicker than your average screen protector at 0.028cm versus about 0.015cm to 0.020cm. That extra ~0.010cm is likely worthwhile and the developers (who call themselves "Evolutive Labs") say that Rhino Shield is only three times thicker than a sheet of paper and remains highly transparent, though we haven't seen any clarity-related specs.

As with many startups lately, Evolutive Labs has turned to KickStarter for funding. So far, 256 backers have pledged a total of £4,074 and the team needs another £45,926 in the next 27 days to meet its goal of £50,000. Evolutive Labs says it's ready for mass production and with funding, it should be able to ship Rhino Shield by April. There are various donation tiers with protectors for many major smartphones and tablets.