Apple Working On New Environmental Sensors For Mobile Devices

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Apple potentially wants your next iPhone (or maybe an iWatch) to be able to detect humidity, atmospheric pressure and temperature data according to a couple of new patents spotted by AppleInsider today. One of the patents describes a sensor package that could detect temperature, pressure, humidity and sound and that features a partial opening for sound input, or that could use existing microphone or speaker ports on a device, and the other is a thermal sensor incorporated into a button on the device.

Apple’s thinking here is to equip mobile devices with even more awareness about their surroundings. Current iPhones have mics of course, but these are tied mostly to picking up user input rather than to seeking environmental information. The sensor array described in the first patent could provide mobile devices with information about weather conditions in their immediate surroundings, but they could also be used to offer up info about their user, too. Plus, most Android devices now contain barometers in addition to their other sensors for detecting motion, acceleration, light and more, so it makes sense that Apple would be exploring similar tech.

The temperature detector built into a button is perhaps more interesting, especially for those watching to see what Apple’s first move into wearables will offer. It could work with the iPhone, too, worked into something like the volume control button or power on/off switch, and offering the ability to take both air and body temperature readings, but in an iWatch it would probably work even better as something used to provide a consistent and ongoing reading of body temp.

Smartphones are bound to incorporate more sensors as they advance, and these environmental ones would hardly be a stretch to imagine even in the very next iterations of Apple’s mobile devices.