An Apple patent granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office reveals details (via AppleInsider) of how the company plans to transform the iPhone into a situation awareness handset.
The US Patent No. 8,385,059 for “Electronic device with automatic mode switching” describes a way the iPhone – and the user – could benefit from a variety of existing and pending properties related to sensor management to create a highly automated handset that could anticipate the owner’s needs.
The patent’s abstract reads:
“An electronic device for predicting or anticipating a user’s operational desires. The electronic device is ready to perform the anticipated function without input from the user by using sensors to sense environmental attributes. The sensors can include an ambient light sensor, a force sensor, a temperature sensor, an ambient noise sensor, and a motion sensor. The electronic device also includes a control mechanism for switching between modes for the device.”
The iPhone you know could turn into an highly intuitive portable electronic handset simply by using temperature, force, vibration, ambient lightning, pressure and other sensors, and could predict what function a user is likely to perform next. In one embodiment, the iPhone could change its status automatically from sleep mode to fully functional simply based on the ambient light and orientation information.
Despite that the patent language and illustration highlights a portable media player, in this case the click wheel iPod, the modifications add support for cellular handsets like the iPhone.
The patent describes a “situational awareness module” where all the information collected by the sensors goes. This module interprets the signals through existing “truth tablets”, used to map specific sensor events to functions. However, the greatest thing is that it’s fully customizable.
The patent was first filed for in 2011 and credits Fletcher R. Rothkopf as inventor.