Your iPhone could one day function as a portable smoke alarm if an Apple patent filing ever comes to fruition.
An Apple patent application dubbed "Wireless device networks with smoke detection capabilities" published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday describes an electronic device that could alert you in the event of smoke. The device could go even further by identifying the positions of people in the area, sending alerts to other phones and devices and activating any fire suppression system.
Why outfit an iPhone or other electronic device with a smoke detector when smoke alarms are fairly common in most homes and are required in buildings? As Apple describes it, traditional smoke alarms are placed in a fixed position and therefore can only detect smoke in their general vicinity. Someone in another part of the building may not be aware of the alarm. Further, an electronic device can provide helpful information to the owner as well as to firefighters and other people in the event of a fire.
The iPhone or other device would be outfitted with sensors to monitor for and detect the presence of smoke. In response, the device could automatically send alerts to other electronic devices both nearby and at firehouses or other emergency services locations. Those alerts could display maps showing where the smoke has been detected as well as the location of other people in the house or building. All of that information would be useful not just to people in the area but to firefighters and emergency personnel attempting to control the situation.
As always a patent application doesn't mean the technology will ever make its way to the real world. But outfitting an electronic device with smoke detection as well as an alert system would be of value, especially in large buildings where dozens or hundreds of people may need to evacuate if a fire breaks out.