New Types of Sensors In Future Mobile Phones: Altitude, Emotion and More

iPhone teardown image from Viaforensics

The New York Times' Nick Bilton spoke with Benedetto Vigna, general manager of the MEMS division of STMicroelectronics, about what kinds of sensors we might be seeing in the next generation of mobile phones.

The iPhone presently uses a number of sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and digital compass. These sensors have found to be quite useful in various social applications and games.

The next generation of sensors could include additional location providing ones, such as an altimeter:

Mr. Vigna said the next smartphones would have altimeter sensors that would be able to detect your elevation. “These sensors will tell people what floor they are on in a building, or could be used to more precisely determine where you are in relation to your friends on a location-based service,” he said.

Other possibilities include heart monitors, perspiration/mood sensors, and temperature/humidity sensors. The new sensors could even be used in games to determine excitement or emotion during gameplay.

Meanwhile, a combination of factors (phone position, and other patterns) could be used to identify the user for security purposes.

After you use a new phone for a short period of time, it will start to learn your patterns and automatically lock or unlock the phone accordingly. This could be used for more secure banking too.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
120 months ago

I know some folks have been waiting for the day they can take their temperature rectally with their iphone.

They'll be so please about this news!


Well there is a few people on MR that I would like to take their Android phones and...:)


But seriously, think about it. Detecting emotions/mood. How cool. So when the Mrs is feeling bitchy, her phone sends you an alert and you know to put in some OT at the office.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
Automatic airplane mode?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago

Just be sure to set it to 29.92"Hg! :D


in a non pressurized cabin, such as a cesna or helicopter, yes, on a commercial flight, no... it would read somewhere around 7000 ft the whole time.


the one area where my Garmin Rino still beats my iphone 4 is the fact that it has an altimeter... for detailed tracking of a day skiing, or hiking in the mountains that sensor is necessary as GPS isnt great for measuring precise small changes in elevation/altitude
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago

Also even if it had a pressure senor what pilot in their right mind would want to use a iPhone/iPad as an altimeter. It wouldn't have the required accuracy, it couldn't be calibrated and the FAA wouldn't certify it.


An electronic sensor, being able to detect changes of two feet, is far more accurate than most mechanical altimeters.

They could of course be easily calibrated in software.

However, yes, it would take time to get certified.

Not only that, but I've never seen a pressure altimeter that was accurate to within 25 feet, much less 10 or 5 feet.


The FAA requires altimeters to be bench-certified as accurate within 20 feet up to a thousand feet. See Appendix E 14 CFR 43.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
In some ways 75% is a stretch, but yeah iPhone is close.

How is it NOT already a tricorder? It already does about 75% of what tricorders were shown doing. In fact, it does way more than they were ever shown to do.

It certainly has more computational horse power than was imagined back then. However it comes up short in a number of ways. For one no gas analyst, or radiation hazard detection. Nothing like a spectrometer either.

However some of this stuff is not far off in being pocketable. There are a number of lab on a chip techniques being worked on right now. So 75% is not far off at all.

Your point is well taken, as some one that was a big fan of star treck I marvel at how far we have come in many ways. Certainly the cell phone has now eclipsed the communicator and has adopted many tricoder features. The future looks bright as far as this reality goes. Now if we could only get an administration in Washington that has a clue about space technology. It has been at least 15 years since we have had a rational plan for space coming out of washington. Really pathetic when you think about it.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
120 months ago
I can think of dozens of uses for a built-in lie detector.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

Google's $349 Pixel 4a vs. Apple's $399 iPhone SE

Wednesday August 5, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by
Google this week launched its newest smartphone, the $349 Pixel 4a, a low-cost device that's designed to compete with other affordable devices like Apple's iPhone SE. We picked up one of the new Pixel 4a smartphones and thought we'd check it out to see how it measures up to the iPhone SE, given that the two devices have such similar price points. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel ...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Z Fold 2, and Galaxy Buds to Compete With Apple's iPhones and AirPods Pro

Wednesday August 5, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Samsung today held a virtual Galaxy Unpacked event where it unveiled its next-generation smartphones that will compete with Apple's 2020 iPhone lineup, set to come out in the fall. Samsung announced the launch of the Galaxy Note 20 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the two newest devices in the Note lineup, and, more notably, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung's latest foldable smartphone. The...

Alleged 'iPhone 12' Images Depict Circular Array of Magnets in Chassis

Wednesday August 5, 2020 4:39 am PDT by
New images shared on Weibo appear to show a circular array of magnets housed inside an "iPhone 12" chassis. The unverified images depict 36 individual magnets in a circular arrangement, suggesting they could be related to mounting or charging. EverythingApplePro, who shared the Weibo-originating images on Twitter, also posted an image of an alleged iPhone 12 case with a similar array of...