Apple patent hints at embedded poisonous gas detectors in future iPhone, Watch models

“Future iPhones and Watches may include embedded, miniature gas sensors, which could alert users if they were in hazardous environments.”

The latest patent granted to Apple details a wellness feature that may one day be included in a future iPhone or Apple Watch. Published yesterday by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the patent details a robust, miniature smoke and gas detector that can be embedded within a product chassis to identify when a user is within the perimeters of hazardous conditions. The health and wellness technology can then alert a user about the air quality and conditions around him, hence potentially saving a life.

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Apple CO patent 1 - in text

The sensor targets carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in particular. CO is an odourless, tasteless gas that goes undetected, leading to hundreds of deaths owing to gas poisoning every year. The technology demonstrated by Apple may include a sensor, or a collection of sensors that detect multiple forms of gaseous threats and pollutants, thereby increasing the health and wellness potential of wearable devices such as the Apple Watch. To do so, however, Apple will first need to innovate in terms of the sensory technology.

The reason for this is that in devices such as the Apple Watch or iPhone, maintaining form and waterproofing is extremely important. Gas sensors, as of now, are rather clunky, especially the waterproof ones. As a result, the initial challenges would be to build a smaller one that is resistant to pollutants and damages, would fit within the compact form of these devices, include enhanced poisoning resistance for longevity, and low signal interference.

Apple CO patent 2 - in text

The patent application #20190025271, which was originally filed by Apple in March 2018, states that the target gases for these sensors include “at least one of ozone (O.sub.3), nitrogen dioxide (NO.sub.2), nitrogen monoxide (NO), sulfur dioxide (SO.sub.2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH.sub.4), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and wherein the components of a gas mixture other than the target gas comprises poisoning species including siloxanes, sulfates, phosphates and chlorides, and/or interfering species such as water vapor.

The schematic diagrams in the patent, shown by Patently Apple, reveal how they may be implemented in a future Apple Watch or iPhone. Seeing how Apple is being increasingly invested in wellness technology and related services, we reckon this feature might actually be seen in production quite soon.