Future iPhone Could Sniff out Problems


Department of Homeland Security hoping for a phone that can smell dangerous chemicals.

May. 24, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The iPhone has become the Swiss army knife of mobile gadgets. It can download movies and music, play games, snap pictures, retrieve emails ... if the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) has its way, the device will also be able to detect dangerous toxins.

As part of its Cell-All initiative, the S&T is working with manufacturers including Apple, LG, Qualcomm and Samsung to integrate low-cost (less than $1 each) chemical sensing chips into mobile phones. The first prototypes are expected to sniff out carbon monoxide and fire. Users will be able to choose how they want to be notified: phone call, vibration, text message of noise.

Of course, the S&T hopes the technology will eventually be able to protect users from catastrophes like sarin gas attacks - scary.

What other senses would you like your iPhone to have?

Touch - The iPhone could recognize that it’s not you who’s holding it and sound an alarm.

Vision - It can already take pictures, so sight is covered … sort of. It’d be nice if the iPhone could also see what’s happening around the house, like a surveillance camera. You could prop it up in the rec room to keep an eye on your teenage kids while you’re out. Review the footage when you get home or have it stream live video to the iPhone to took with you.

Hearing - “iPhone … where are you?” As much as we love our iPhones, they’re easy to misplace. If only the device could hear us calling them and answer with a beep.

Taste - An iPhone with digital taste buds could try a “bite” to make sure what we’ve cooked or ordered isn’t overly bitter, sweet or salty.

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