Apple's 'attack detection mode' would protect iPhone owners in emergency situations

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent filing describing a unique mobile device feature that can automatically request assistance if it is determined that a user is in distress.

Touch ID


Apple's patent application for "Mobile emergency attack and failsafe detection" covers a software and hardware implementation for an emergency services request system using the one thing almost everyone carries on a day-to-day basis: a smartphone.

The filing describes a system that uses a mobile device's onboard sensors to detect a probable emergency situation, such as a physical attack against the user. The system can then automatically request help via cellphone call or other mode of communication.

As Apple notes, users may encounter problems or emergency situations while traveling from one place to another. The invention is meant to help assist the user in the case of automobile accidents, muggings and debilitating medical issues, among other scenarios.

First, the system generates an emergency call list from a user's address book or crowd-sourced database (like local 911 numbers). Alternatively, users may set contact numbers manually. The device can also use its GPS functionality to constantly update the database, and in the case of an emergency, will message the nearest contact on the list.

In one embodiment, the system revolves around a user-enabled "attack detection mode" that, when activated, monitors for certain events. A number of optional sub-modes can be selected to meet a multitude of operating environments.

Alarm
Source: USPTO


Most modes monitor user interaction. Examples would be a finger breaking contact with the device screen or not moving for a given period of time. In other cases, the system utilizes onboard sensors like an accelerometer or microphone. For example, the device monitors for sudden movements or loud noises surpassing a certain threshold.

In yet another example, a user can depress a physical button like volume up/down, which then acts as a "dead man switch." If the button is released, the system will determine something has gone wrong.

When the system senses a possible attack, it enters a warning mode that counts down to an audible alarm, emergency call or similar response. To exit the warning mode, the user must interact with the device, perhaps placing their finger back on the screen or dead man switch. Alternatively, a disarm code can be entered to turn return back to attack monitoring.

Alarm


If the device reaches "attack detection response mode," the system will play an audible tone, overriding "silent" or "vibrate" settings if needed. A silent alarm may also be activated, which calls a relative or predefined emergency services phone number. In the latter case, GPS coordinates can be supplied along with an alert message.

Users may also initiate the response mode manually by shaking the device or performing some other predefined gesture. The alarm or response alert can be disabled via an on-screen keypad.

In another embodiment, the device can monitor for an auto accident by using GPS and an accelerometer to determine speed, quick stops or crashes, among other events. When a device is moving faster than a baseline speed, the system is armed. If the device comes to a sudden stop, it may be determined that an accident has taken place.

Alarm


To prevent false alarms, the same warning window implemented in the attack detection embodiment is employed. Therefore, if a user accidentally drops their phone, which would possibly signal a crash, they would be able to disable a subsequent alert by entering a disarm code.

The emergency response procedure is also similar to the attack detection mode in that an alarm sounds and calls to appropriate parties are made. In this case, however, two-way communication can be automatically enabled, with speaker volume turned up to its highest setting in case a driver is trapped away from their phone.

In a final embodiment called "Failsafe emergency detection," the device can be placed in a monitoring mode that requires user interaction within predefined time intervals. For example, when this mode is engaged, a user may need to touch the screen or press a button every half hour.

The failsafe mode is useful to those who may suffer an unexpected emergency due to a medical condition.

It is unclear if Apple will deploy the proposed system in a future version of iOS, though with iPhone theft being a major issue in some areas, such a feature may be worth implementing.

Apple's emergency detection and response patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Robert D. Butler as its inventor.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    Help.  I've fallen....   and I can't get up!

  • Reply 2 of 37
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,716member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent filing describing a unique mobile device feature that can automatically request assistance if it is determined that a user is in distress...



    The failsafe mode is useful to those who may suffer from an unexpected emergency due to a medical condition.

     

    About 18 months ago, my iPhone, which had been on a steady though accelerating trajectory, suddenly moved through a vertical arc of about 270°, coming to a sudden halt. I guess that it could then have called emergency to request an ambulance, which in the end is what I required having been brought down at 50 km/hr by a 4x4 while cycling lol. The iPhone continued to register my trip to the ER, using https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/cyclemeter-gps-cycling-running/id330595774?mt=8.

  • Reply 3 of 37
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    "Threat detected! Entering iTaser mode, press device against assailant and hold down home button."
  • Reply 4 of 37
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,183member
    Something like this, even if patented, should be given away to all comers when/if implemented.

    [S]Just as Mercedes-Benz did with the airbag.[/S] I had in mind anti-lock brakes: http://bit.ly/P46r4q
  • Reply 5 of 37
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    That's not the kind of thing I'd patent. If it can help someone it should be accessible to as many people as possible.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    Utterly stupid and completely impossible to implement correctly.

     

    This is how they slip in invasive technology..through the guise of safety. And it is so amazing the way idiotics just lap it up. Detect loud noises? Yeah you know what that means? Finding an excuse to listen through your microphone all the time, which they want, and have now thought of an excuse for you to opt it to it! Google would love that. So would the NSA.

     

    There is absolutely no way this stupid gimmick could ever work as there is literally NO way the iPhone can ever know that there is a real emergency happening, or you're just vacuuming or working out. Complete idiocy that needs to be called out for what it is: a scam.

  • Reply 7 of 37
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    clemynx wrote: »
    That's not the kind of thing I'd patent. If it can help someone it should be accessible to as many people as possible.

    Even of that's your intention, if you don't patent it someone else could, and they might not have those intentions. You can patent something and still be altruistic.

    Not saying that's Apple's intent.

    Regarding the idea, it seems more useful in situations where the "threat" is from health problems or the environment (like the guy cleaning his furnace who got stuck and couldn't reach his phone and had to cut off his arm after several days), as opposed to, say, a mugging.

    I'd be concerned about an audible alarm spooking a mugger. A panicked thief can be dangerous. Id rather my phone stolen than my life.
  • Reply 8 of 37
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,154member

    Sounds very interesting and has potential but would require an inordinate amount of time and resources to implement in manner that would be viable or acceptable. 

  • Reply 9 of 37
    emesemes Posts: 239member

    "Search karate!"

  • Reply 10 of 37
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    How about first we make the iPhone impossible to turn off with using a PIN/TouchID, otherwise the part about theft is pointless.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Yet Siri refuses to call 911 even when asked.

  • Reply 12 of 37
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    Yet Siri refuses to call 911 even when asked.

    Are you sure?

    I just asked Siri "Call 9 1 1" and this is the response I got back…


    400


    I canceled before it actually attempted to dial but I assume the 5 second delay they put in the system is to prevent unintended dials.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post



    Yet Siri refuses to call 911 even when asked.




    Are you sure?



    I just asked Siri "Call 9 1 1" and this is the response I got back…



    I canceled before it actually attempted to dial but I assume the 5 second delay they put in the system is to prevent unintended dials.

    Good to know. Must be new to iOS 7. 

     

    I tried it in iOS 6 awhile ago as did several other people who made posts regarding the issue. I think the issue was first brought to light by a blind person who only knew how to call numbers using Siri and was unable to call 911 in an emergency due to the restriction. At the time I tried to get Siri to call 911 and she said she could not do it. I then tried to set up 911 as a contact named 'Emergency' but same result. I'm glad they fixed that because it was stupid to not allow Siri to call 911. In the previous versions of iOS perhaps some Apple lawyers decided there might be some liability for false 911 calls.

  • Reply 14 of 37
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     

    Utterly stupid and completely impossible to implement correctly.

     

    This is how they slip in invasive technology..through the guise of safety. And it is so amazing the way idiotics just lap it up. Detect loud noises? Yeah you know what that means? Finding an excuse to listen through your microphone all the time, which they want, and have now thought of an excuse for you to opt it to it! Google would love that. So would the NSA.

     

    There is absolutely no way this stupid gimmick could ever work as there is literally NO way the iPhone can ever know that there is a real emergency happening, or you're just vacuuming or working out. Complete idiocy that needs to be called out for what it is: a scam.


    I think the "dead man switch" is a pretty good idea, actually. I can imagine someone walking home late at night in a scary neighborhood, and keeping their finger on the button, knowing that if anything bad happened, all they would have to do is let go for it to alert the authorities. You'd probably want a 5-second delay or something, just in case somebody's hand slips, but I don't think this part of the idea is that unreasonable.

  • Reply 16 of 37
    ktappektappe Posts: 808member
    As a skier who keeps my iPhone (sealed) on my person while I ski, I can only imagine how it would register when I lose it and have a "yard sale" on the slopes. When I'm trying to dig myself (and my skis) out of the snow, the last thing I need on top of that is to have my iPhone loudly alarming in my pocket. Do not want.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    Something like this, even if patented, should be given away to all comers when/if implemented.



    Just as Mercedes-Benz did with the airbag. I had in mind anti-lock brakes: http://bit.ly/P46r4q

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post



    That's not the kind of thing I'd patent. If it can help someone it should be accessible to as many people as possible.

    actually, to make sure that everyone has access to it, you probably want to patent it to make sure no one else with evil intent does.

     

    'CopyLeft'ing (at least the software) is even better... driving the market to submit all improvements back into the source 'right' so everyone can benefit from it.

  • Reply 18 of 37
    nhtnht Posts: 4,521member
    ktappe wrote: »
    As a skier who keeps my iPhone (sealed) on my person while I ski, I can only imagine how it would register when I lose it and have a "yard sale" on the slopes. When I'm trying to dig myself (and my skis) out of the snow, the last thing I need on top of that is to have my iPhone loudly alarming in my pocket. Do not want.

    Say that when skiing solo and hitting a tree out of sight (bowl, woods, bad luck, last run of the night, etc)

    Or learn to ski better.

    Or, OMG, turn it off when you don't want it.
  • Reply 19 of 37
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     

    Utterly stupid and completely impossible to implement correctly.

     

    This is how they slip in invasive technology..through the guise of safety. And it is so amazing the way idiotics just lap it up. Detect loud noises? Yeah you know what that means? Finding an excuse to listen through your microphone all the time, which they want, and have now thought of an excuse for you to opt it to it! Google would love that. So would the NSA.

     

    There is absolutely no way this stupid gimmick could ever work as there is literally NO way the iPhone can ever know that there is a real emergency happening, or you're just vacuuming or working out. Complete idiocy that needs to be called out for what it is: a scam.


    your tinfoil is a bit tight on the noggin today;-)

     

    and is 'idiotics' sort of sci-fi speak? Parallel  to 'low functioning bipedal biologics?'

  • Reply 20 of 37
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post



    I'd be concerned about an audible alarm spooking a mugger. A panicked thief can be dangerous. Id rather my phone stolen than my life.

    agreed...  

     

    Better to just have a silent alarm mode that

    = locks the phone till password/touchid (even blocks turning it off as solisipsm noted[or fakes turning it off would be even better then only those people who are smart enough to put it into a soundproof faraday cage have a chance]),  

    = turns up the gains on WIFI(in promiscuous 'join any wifi that can connect me to apple.com' mode) and 4G radios

    = sets  max mic input gain,

    = sends out a 'I'm Lost or Stolen' to a master FindmyStoleniPhone.apple.com site that Apple monitors and sends out GPS tracking and audio for LEA analysis...

    = sets the phone to 'fast wipe upon when battery draws down under 2%'

Sign In or Register to comment.