Apple patents smart smoke detection system for iPhone

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2015
According to a patent granted to Apple on Tuesday, iPhones, iPads and other branded equipment could one day sport onboard smoke detection hardware to alert users, and interested parties, of a potentially dangerous situation.


Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,123,221 for "Wireless device networks with smoke detection capabilities," as issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, sounds a lot like similar network-connected products like Nest's Protect. However, the solution described by Apple offers a number of benefits over today's fixed location setups, advantages that would make iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and other devices personal, portable fire safety systems.

As part of a networked system, an iOS device would be outfitted with a sensor suite similar to light-based or ionizing smoke detectors commonly found in hardware stores, but shrunken down to fit within a handheld chassis. Some embodiments call on more traditional sensors, like an iPhone's camera, to pull double duty as smoke detection devices.




In practice, smoke would need to enter a monitoring device to be detected, so an installed sensor array must therefore be positioned near a speaker port or other small opening. Apple doesn't limit potential applications to portables, but includes embodiments covering Wi-Fi routers, MacBooks, desktop PCs and even Apple TV.

When the system does detect smoke, underlying control software is triggered to notify the device owner, activate a fire suppression system or perform other suitable tasks. Authorities might also be alerted to the emergency via messages sent by a device's communications capabilities. Information can also be transmitted regarding house address, building layout, individual device location and more.

Another embodiment monitors user presence, or whether a device owner is nearby when smoke is detected. This information, along with temperature, motion and location data, can play an important role in directing firefighters to building occupants or remotely notifying home owners of a fire.




There are no clear plans for Apple to incorporate smoke detection technology into a next-generation iOS device, though the company is becoming a more aggressive player in the home automation space. Perhaps offering a hint as to Apple's ambitions, today's patent grant includes claim modifications to an application published last November. Specifically, all major claims now refer to a "cellular phone" rather than an "electronic device."

Apple's smoke detector patent was first filed for in May 2013 and credits Paul G. Puskarich as its inventor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    Interesting.
  • Reply 2 of 40

    I like this. Maybe chuck in a carbon monoxide and radon detector too!

  • Reply 3 of 40
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    I like this. Maybe chuck in a carbon monoxide and radon detector too!


     

    They could just put a spectrometer in there and detect whatever :-).

  • Reply 4 of 40
    Now we know what the 's' will be for -- 2 years from now -- in the iPhone 7s! "Smoke detector"

    More seriously, I wonder how it would be in rooms full of cigarette smoker (nightclubs, etc.). Will it differentiate that from "the room is on fire" smoke? I imagine this is a requirement that traditional smoke detectors have already had to address.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    I'm not quite sure I see the value in that. A smoke detector is something that can alert a person in the event that they're not there so that remedial action can be taken (such as activating a built-in sprinkler system). If the phone is on the person all the time, they're most likely to be in the location of the fire/smoke, rendering any notification other than one's own eyes and nose, useless. I don't see the point.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by foggyhill View Post

     

     

    They could just put a spectrometer in there and detect whatever :-).




    Haha, like it :) Now THAT could be very handy indeed. You can imagine apps springing up that test the purity of Cocaine!

     

    I'm not a coke addict by the way! Just thinking it could make for a popular app. I sell electronic cigarettes and we use a spectrometer in liquid content analysis.

  • Reply 7 of 40

    iPhone 7st. T for Tricorder ;)

  • Reply 8 of 40
    damonfdamonf Posts: 217member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marsorry View Post



    I'm not quite sure I see the value in that. A smoke detector is something that can alert a person in the event that they're not there so that remedial action can be taken (such as activating a built-in sprinkler system). If the phone is on the person all the time, they're most likely to be in the location of the fire/smoke, rendering any notification other than one's own eyes and nose, useless. I don't see the point.

     

    For the iPhone, I think they intend for it to be more of a personal smoke detector for when one is asleep.  I imagine that not only would the phone blast out an alarm, but as stated in the article it would also alert fire rescue services as to one's location in the house/building/structure if for whatever reason they were unable to get out on their own.

     

    The article also mentions other devices that could serve as detectors: Mac computers, one's Airport router, Apple TV, etc.  These devices would likely remain in the house permanently, so the house is still protected even if the owner takes the iPhone with them and is out of the house when a smoke incident occurs.

  • Reply 9 of 40
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,807member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marsorry View Post



    I'm not quite sure I see the value in that. A smoke detector is something that can alert a person in the event that they're not there so that remedial action can be taken (such as activating a built-in sprinkler system). If the phone is on the person all the time, they're most likely to be in the location of the fire/smoke, rendering any notification other than one's own eyes and nose, useless. I don't see the point.

    Just think for a second. How about on a nightstand at home or at friend's house where there may not be a smoke detector in every room. You do sleep sometimes, right?

  • Reply 10 of 40
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,807member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DamonF View Post

     

     

    For the iPhone, I think they intend for it to be more of a personal smoke detector for when one is asleep.  I imagine that not only would the phone blast out an alarm, but as stated in the article it would also alert fire rescue services as to one's location in the house/building/structure if for whatever reason they were unable to get out on their own.

     

    The article also mentions other devices that could serve as detectors: Mac computers, one's Airport router, Apple TV, etc.  These devices would likely remain in the house permanently, so the house is still protected even if the owner takes the iPhone with them and is out of the house when a smoke incident occurs.


     

    I'd be leery about automatically calling the FD, though. Too many false alarms. Wouldn't want FD called when the kitchen gets a tad smoky by accident. Same with the fireplace. Justy forget to open the flue once.

  • Reply 11 of 40



    Ok true - I can see the logic in that.  You make a good point.  Still sounds like a stretch though, but I quite like the previous guy (DamonF) who responded to my post for a use case that includes numerous iOS devices - he too makes a pretty good argument for it.

  • Reply 12 of 40

    Makes very good sense.  I guess they're really pushing the envelope to differentiate themselves from the competition.  If it's say - part of (or an extension of) the HomeKit platform... - right on the money, as there are many homes without that tech.

  • Reply 13 of 40
    I really like the "concept" although there are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered. The whole ecosystem of connected devices could provide feedback on what is going on. The user can input easily as to whether there is cause for alarm or not. This data could be tracked to tailer the system more tightly. Pretty interesting to also know where the occupants are. Firefighters in a live situation could have data showing movement of people in an emergency to better respond but also for analysis afterward to better understand human tendency in an emergency situation...Too many possibilities to write here...I like the potential of where this could go.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    thrangthrang Posts: 756member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slprescott View Post



    Now we know what the 's' will be for -- 2 years from now -- in the iPhone 7s! "Smoke detector"



    More seriously, I wonder how it would be in rooms full of cigarette smoker (nightclubs, etc.). Will it differentiate that from "the room is on fire" smoke? I imagine this is a requirement that traditional smoke detectors have already had to address.



    Where in 2015 are there public places with a room full of smokers? At least in the northeast, there are 0.

  • Reply 15 of 40
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    iPhones are typically next to you, not the best place for an early alert smoke detector. A strategically located ceiling would be better.
  • Reply 16 of 40



    I appreciate your comments - really opening up my eyes as to where it can go.  I think I wrote my first comment way too soon :).  The safety and security aspects of the eco-system could really be game-changing, following the recent focus on the health and fitness industry.  Very good point.

  • Reply 17 of 40
    croprcropr Posts: 883member

    For what it is worth, to me this is just a trivial combination of 2 existing items: a iPhone and a a smoke detector.  I don't understand that a patent is granted for this.

     

    If I would integrate a cumb and an iPhone, (very handy because my hair is always in a mess and I never carry a cumb with me), could I be granted a patent as well?

  • Reply 18 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thrang View Post

    Where in 2015 are there public places with a room full of smokers? At least in the northeast, there are 0.


    Germany?

  • Reply 19 of 40
    mnbob1mnbob1 Posts: 259member
    cropr wrote: »
    For what it is worth, to me this is just a trivial combination of 2 existing items: a iPhone and a a smoke detector.  I don't understand that a patent is granted for this.

    If I would integrate a cumb and an iPhone, (very handy because my hair is always in a mess and I never carry a cumb with me), could I be granted a patent as well?

    I'm sure your current employer is grateful for your ability to seeing the big picture of a concept as you go about flipping burgers. At least you have heard of combing your hair so it sounds like you do come out of your parents basement from time to time.
  • Reply 20 of 40

    This could be bad news for hippies.

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