A new patent shows Apple’s plans to equip its iPhones and other devices with technologies capable of detecting dangerous gases in the environment.
Apple has been making strides in the area of health with the Apple Watch Series 4, but it appears that the company isn’t done with health just yet. A new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals that the Cupertino tech giant plans to do more than just monitor a user’s heart condition — it can also be used to monitor ozone levels in the environment surrounding Apple devices.
The patent, according to Patently Apple, is for “an in-sensor span calibration for micro electro-mechanical system (MEMS) ozone sensor.” The patent describes an ozone sensor that can be placed in a smartphone or smartwatch.
How it works
Apple, in the patent, described how its devices will be capable of detecting the presence of ozone gas in the atmosphere by means of several components: an enclosure, a light source positioned inside the enclosure, a port that will allow air to flow in and out of the enclosure, and a gas sensor also placed inside the enclosure. The gas sensor includes small sensors such as a metal-oxide gas sensor, the patent says.
The patent said that the enclosure might be made of aluminum, stainless steel or other metals or metallic alloys or other “suitable” materials; the light source can be an LED placed on the enclosure’s wall; and the port will be made of a porous, but waterproof, material.
All of these components are placed in “a portable communication device,” which likely pertains to the iPhone and Apple Watch. The device will then act as a “host” that will power and control the light source and the heating element. This is how the ozone sensor is expected to work, as per the patent:
“The light source is operable to facilitate generation of ozone gas within the enclosure. The enclosure may contain a heating element that allows baseline calibration of the gas sensor by thermally decomposing ozone gas molecules.”
What’s it for
The technology is seen to give future products and applications such as environmental health monitoring, smart homes and internet of things devices the ability to monitor and alert users about the presence of ozone in any environment.
This patent application reveals Apple’s bigger plans for health. It’s unknown, however, as to when will the Cupertino tech giant be able to release a device that features such a technology.