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Future smartphones could have anti-pickpocket technology

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If you've spent a huge sum of money on a phone, you don't want a cheeky thief to swipe it right out of your pocket, and phones in the future might have a handy feature that stops them doing just that – or, at least, makes it a lot harder for them to pick your pocket.

A patent (opens in new tab) filed by Swedish telecom company Ericsson (which you might know from the Sony Ericsson phones), shows new tech that phones could use to become much, much harder to steal – in theory.

The technology would recognize who was holding a phone from their heartbeat – and if someone unauthorized was holding the phone, it would enter 'low-friction' mode.

In 'low-friction' mode the phone would vibrate quickly, making it a lot harder for potential thieves to pick up – in effect, it becomes too slippery to easily pick up. The tech also includes a 'hi-friction' mode, so when you're holding your phone, it's a lot less likely to slip out of your hands and fall to the ground.

In theory, 'low-friction' mode would help stop pesky pickpockets pinching your phone right out of your pocket, giving you that extra level of security when you're in a busy crowd – of course it won't help if your phone is stolen in any other way, but it still could be a useful feature.

Although the patent was only recently discovered, it was filed in February, so phone makers have had a few months to consider adding it to their handsets, however with the long production cycles of phones, even if handsets do end up using the tech it might be a few months before we see phones with this anti-robber technology.

Tom Bedford
Tom Bedford

Tom's role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.


He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.