Future Apple Devices May Have a Built-In Smoke Detector


iPhones and iPads pack tons of sensors, but Apple is working on expanding its capabilities even further: a recent patent application discovered by Business Insider describes a future Apple device sporting smoke detectors (via Patently Apple).

Apple isn’t quite satisfied with the current status of smoke detectors: they are placed at fixed locations, and there is a possibility of users being out of range from the coverage of the smoke detector. As a result, they may not hear the alarm. Besides, the smoke detector alarms cannot reveal information such as how many occupants are in the building.

Iphone smoke detector

To address this issue, Apple has imagined iDevices — as detailed in the patent application — that are be able to call 911 in the case of an emergency situation. Furthermore, Mac or iOS products with a smoke detector on board will be able to collect information about the location using other built-in sensors, such as how many inhabitants are there.

It is worth noting that the software would work with HomeKit. When Apple devices sense smoke, they may issue an alert or take action like texting or sending an email, activating fire suppression equipment, creating audible alerts, etc.

The Apple patent was originally filed for in 2013 and credits Paul Puskarich as inventor.


  • BrodieTheDog

    This is the dumbest thing I ever heard. If this comes to fruition, before you know it, one person lights a smoke in a crowd and and everybody’s phones go haywire. Great party trick. Why not build a better smoke detector instead.

  • alphs22

    Good thing they will be attached to SMARTphones and tablets, with you know, computational power. They’re not just sensors attached to an alarm like most smoke detectors.

    You can easily set this to only turn on at specified locations (i.e. your house). Maybe it will only activate when you’re asleep. Maybe you can *gasp* turn the feature off. And who knows, maybe the sensor will differentiate between different types of smokes/gases or have different sensitivity settings.

    The idea has potential. You just can’t see it.

  • Al

    Apple’s background reasoning for this is just silliness. Smoke detectors are located at key areas in a home where smoke tends to collect, and if you can’t hear them, then you are deaf. Unless you are a smoker, you don’t need one right beside you everywhere you go.

    Alternately, Apple can create smoke detectors that are tied into motion detectors which can count the number of people in a home.

    Apple is simply looking to lock in a patent for yet another thing they have no real intention of using. Trying to predict the future by watching Patently Apple is generally futile because they have a department of lawyers whose sole job is to patent everything under the sun that is presented to them by the R&D daydreamer department .

  • Al

    Or maybe it’s bogus, like most of Apple’s patents, and will never see the light of day.

  • alphs22

    Yes, but they’re not perfect. The point of this isn’t to remove the need for fire alarms, it’s to add the chance of detection by being in more places, which can’t be a bad thing in situations where seconds matter.

    “In 2007-2011, smoke alarms were present in almost three-quarters (73%) of reported home fires and sounded in half (52%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments. Homes include one- and two-family homes, apartments or other multi-family housing, and manufactured housing. When smoke alarms were present in fires considered large enough to activate them, they operated 86% of the time. More than one-third (37%) of home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present at all. One-quarter (23%) of the deaths were caused by fires in properties in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate. Smoke alarms operated in fires that caused two out of five (40%) home fire deaths. One percent of the deaths resulted from fires that were too small to activate the smoke alarm.”

    -National Fire Protection Agency

  • That would make for a great YouTube video

  • alphs22

    Most patents never see the light of day. Maybe they don’t end up being practical, but doesn’t mean they weren’t good ideas.

  • gerry

    It can detect early overheating on their devices.

  • Al

    Not having a smoke alarm in key areas of the home is stupid.

    Not maintaining a smoke alarm is stupid.

    You’re not thinking this through.

    An iPhone with smoke detection will NOT detect smoke sooner than an installed (and, obviously… maintained) smoke alarm. If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead.

  • alphs22

    I don’t disagree that it’s terribly irresponsible to not have smoke alarms and maintain them. But the FACT remains is that during fires a good portion of smoke alarms fail to engage, either by malfunction, placement, or dead batteries. Sometimes maybe you’re out of your house (hotel, relative’s, etc.) and these things aren’t exactly in your control. What exactly is the harm of having more smoke sensors just in case?

    > If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead.

    You leave your phone/tablet/whatever upstairs. Fire starts somewhere nearby, regular fire alarm doesn’t work for whatever. Device alerts everyone’s devices downstairs that there’s a fire in the house.

    Other than the fact that you’re pissy about Apple getting another patent, what’s bad about this?

  • Al

    “Sometimes maybe you’re out of your house (hotel, relative’s, etc.)”

    Like I said… … If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead.

    “You leave your phone/tablet/whatever upstairs”

    Let me get this straight… are you saying, you HAVE TO leave your device upstairs? Or are you saying, you just happen to leave your device upstairs? Either way, it’s an inconsistent, non-viable solution. You aren’t being realistic.

    What’s bad about this? Like I said… If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead.

    You yourself said, “seconds matter”. So I’ll say it one more time… If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead.

  • FragilityG4

    I agree with Al on this one … Bogus patent, stupid feature.

  • ????

    Apple version of Nest.

  • ????

    Just reading over the comments. You guys are missing the point. Its not that every iPhone will have a smoke detector. Instead they will be linked wirelessly via home kit to Nest like detectors. Apple has the small ecosystem it has built. The next logical step for the company is to expand to the rest of your home. Thus Apples version of Nest.

  • Al

    Here’s a thought… How about you read the article before making the assumption that we are incorrect. I only say that because you are WRONG!

  • Al


  • BrodieTheDog

    Wow!! You’re a %#&@ing genius. Maybe you should go work for Google since you know all the answers.

  • Tim

    At first, I thought this was a decent idea. If the sensor is tiny and cheap, why not, it’s one additional feature. However, the problem would be if people started relying on these things. As someone else pointed out, smoke tends to rise. There’s a reason we place smoke detectors on the ceiling. I’m not sure having it at your bed side would do much. The flip side is that it might come in handy if people forget to maintain or install their regular detectors. Tough call.

  • Al

    By the time the smoke has worked it’s way from the ceiling down to the phone, it’s filling 3/4 of the room. The means the exits are likely blocked, and the room you are in may possibly be on fire at that point. If you have a window right beside you, and not a long drop to the ground, you may be able to escape. Otherwise, you’re toast. Either way, it’s highly unlikely you will have time, or a clear path, to crawl to other rooms in the house to save anyone else.

    Ceiling smoke detectors, especially those that have a light, are the only way to go.

  • alphs22

    > Either way, it’s an inconsistent, non-viable solution. You aren’t being realistic

    Because the existing typical smoke detectors today work on a consistent basis right? I mean, not like I already quoted the NFPA on how inconsistent the existing solution is.

    Having smoke detectors on mobile devices would be a supplement and will not replace normal smoke detectors. I didn’t think this would be a difficult concept to grasp, but hey people like you never fail to surprise me.

  • alphs22

    Try keeping an open mind before you judge an idea in still its infancy.

  • Al

    What good is a supplement if the concept is virtually useless? What part of… “If you wait until your phone detects smoke, you are probably as good as dead” … don’t you get?

  • BrodieTheDog

    Maybe you should try and practice what you preach and not go around correcting people for their opinions.

    If you would like to talk about it. Give me one real world example of how having a smoke detector on your phone would be of practicle use. Now I can see it being useful if your smoke detector communicated with your phone and sent you alerts and possibly an alarm if it was set off.

  • alphs22

    I already gave a scenario where a device you weren’t using in the 2nd floor detects smoke and notifies people downstairs. I guess you have trouble reading too?

  • alphs22


    Fire starts at some room upstairs. Smoke alarm for whatever reason malfunctions. Phone detects smoke, notifies people downstairs of fire.

    That’s one quick thought from a random guy on the internet. I’m sure the people who came up with the idea applied for the patent would be working harder to find more uses and make money out of it.

  • Al

    And I guess you missed my blatantly sarcastic comment of how seriously impractical and completely ridiculous that notion was.