Apple may be working on a way for the Touch ID sensor in the iPhone to contact emergency services quickly and more easily.
An Apple patent (opens in new tab) published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows a method for using a biometric sensor similar to the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 6 and up's home button to discreetly trigger an emergency call.
Originally filed in March 2013, the patent describes using a system that can recognize the frequency, force, and even specific fingerprint used on the sensor to execute particular commands.
The patent's summary also describes how this system could be used to quickly activate a 'panic alarm,' which could send a GPS signal to local emergency responders, wipe local data during a theft, or even activate a live video/audio stream to record an incident.
Send a distress signal
Currently, most major smartphones — including the Apple iPhone — have an option to make emergency calls without unlocking the device, but usually still require the user to be on the line with the emergency dispatcher.
By contrast, Apple's newly patented feature could allow you to designate a certain finger or special sequence of presses that sends for help without having to be engaged with your phone throughout the emergency.
As such, this feature would theoretically come in handy when it's unsafe to pull out your phone to dial 911, 999, 000, or whichever emergency number is used in your country.
As is always the case, however, a patent is not confirmation of a new feature for Apple. However, as iOS 11 and releases draw ever closer, we wouldn't be surprised if a new sensor-based emergency call system makes an appearance in the near future.
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