The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple application for new technology that would allow an iPhone to automatically detect when a user is in a dangerous situation, and contact emergency personnel all by itself.
Apple’s “Mobile Emergency Attack and Failsafe Detection” uses an iPhone “emergency-mode processor” to manage automatic sensors that detect when a user is in physical danger – possibly from a violent assault, car accident, or medical failure for example – and communicates with pre-programmed life saving services without being prompted.
The system’s sensors respond to a wide array of variables including contact detection like suddenly being separated from the device while using it, a user’s lack of movement over a certain time period, abnormal sounds picked up via the microphone, dropping the handset or even yanking out headphones.
Part of the patent even describes a “dead man’s switch,” which when activated allows a user to designate a button that, when they lift their finger off of, sets off an emergency response.
When any of the above actions activate emergency mode, the phone gives the user a warning along with a chance to disarm the emergency system by pressing a button or entering a code before it begins to dial a list of emergency contacts, play auto-recorded messages, and transmit GPS location data to first-responders.
Outside of unexpected external physical emergencies, the system could could be used for at-risk medical patients or the elderly whom would otherwise not be capable of contacting help were they to get sick or hurt.
Though published today and reported by Patently Apple, the application was originally filed in the third quarter of 2012.