Apple’s Next-Generation Devices May Include Environmental Sensors

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Source: USPTO.govCurrent Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices already feature several types of sophisticated sensors, including accelerometers and a gyroscopes that can detect motion and orientation, respectively. However, future Apple devices may include even more sensors. Two published Apple patents uncovered by Apple Insider suggest that the Cupertino-based company is considering outfitting iPhones, iPads, and “wrist-watch devices” with various types of environmental sensors, including a temperature sensor, a pressure sensor, and a humidity sensor.

In a patent titled “Electronic Devices With Environmental Sensors,” Apple noted that “Electronic devices such as cellular telephones, portable computers, and tablet computers are sometimes provided with audio components such as microphones and speakers. Audio components are often mounted behind open ports in the device that allow sound to pass through the ports to or from the audio components.”

Since adding extra openings for environmental sensors could allow “unwanted environmental materials” into a device, Apple proposed mounting the environmental sensors in the same port where audio components such as microphones and speakers are already found. Like the audio components, the environmental sensors would be mounted within an enclosure that partially surrounds the components. This would allow the sensors to detect the surrounding environment without exposing the interior of the device to harmful outside elements such as moisture.

As noted by Apple, the environmental data would be converted to readable numbers and provided to the user via the device’s display. Apple also proposed that the environmental data could be used to place the device in a “safe mode” if the detected temperature or other environmental condition falls outside of the device’s predetermined range of safe operating parameters.

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