Future iPhones and Apple Watches could pack “smell recognition capabilities,” based on some new patent filings submitted by Apple.
The iPhone-maker has been researching ways to detect air pollution and other dangerous chemicals with tiny sensors that could be integrated into its products. In the new patents, Apple describes how it could use multiple sensors to detect things like spoiled food, body odor and maybe even blood sugar levels.
In its patent for “Systems and Methods for Environment Sensing,” Apple explains how its system could use sensors coupled with an artificial intelligence engineer to recognize smells associated with certain chemicals. The patent discusses how ionic liquid sensors could be tuned to particular ranges and enclosed into a system on chip. An air-permeable layer would allow chemicals in the air to enter the system which would then gauge how much of a particular chemical is present in the air.
Smelling sensors to the rescue
Apple’s system would have a heater to raise temperatures on the ionic liquid sensors to reverse any chemical reactions. This would give you a fresh slate to continuously monitor air quality. Drawings in the patent filing show Apple is considering adding the smelling technology to both the iPhone and Apple Watch.
Giving iPhone owners access to air quality data of their environment would be a huge addition. This isn’t the first gas sensor Apple has considered either. A patent filed earlier this year showed that Apple is interesting in detecting carbon monoxide, ozone and other harmful chemicals.
Detecting low blood sugar without drawing blood would be a game changer for diabetics. Researchers have been trying to find a non-invasive way to monitor blood sugar levels for decades. Tossing in the ability to detect when you stink would also save people from some awkward situations.
Of course, just because Apple filed a patent doesn’t mean that the technology will ever make it into a product. Don’t get your hopes up for shower alerts coming to Apple Watch anytime soon.