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

pmiPhone boardtopBIGiPhone 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

MrWillie Avatar
133 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)
mcrain Avatar
133 months ago
Automatic airplane mode?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rlreif Avatar
133 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)
kdarling Avatar
133 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)
wizard Avatar
133 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)
Doctor Q Avatar
133 months ago
I can think of dozens of uses for a built-in lie detector.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
telegram

Bumper Telegram Update Enables Video Calls With Up to 1,000 Viewers

Saturday July 31, 2021 12:13 am PDT by
Telegram Messenger has received a major update to its video capabilities, including support for video calls with up to 1,000 viewers. Group video calls in Telegram allow up to 30 users to stream video from both their camera and their screen, and now a maximum of 1,000 people can tune into the broadcast. Telegram says it intends to continue increasing this limit "until all humans on Earth...
app store blue banner

Elon Musk: Apple's App Store Fees Are a 'De Facto Global Tax on the Internet'

Friday July 30, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter today to criticize Apple's App Store fees in a tweet that sides with Epic in the ongoing Epic v. Apple dispute. "Epic is right," wrote Musk, before going on to call Apple's App Store fees a "de facto global tax on the Internet." Musk earlier this week made veiled comments about App Store fees, but today's statement is a much more direct criticism....
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Top Stories: Face ID on Future Macs, Elon Musk Criticizes Apple, and More

Saturday July 31, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting range of Apple news and rumors, including a blockbuster earnings report, rumors about next year's "iPhone 14" and Face ID coming to Macs, and more. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other popular topics included Apple's crackdown on leaks, changes in the latest round of betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, and several stories...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...