Apple’s proposed iPhone control scheme will take your breath away


Apple Watch or iPhone breath control — Is this a joke?
What if you could interact with your Apple Watch by blowing on it?
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Your hands are full and you need to look something up on your Apple Watch. Engineers at Apple dreamed up a system that would allow you to control the wearable by blowing on it. A newly filed patent application also imagines a breath-controlled iPhone.

So far, there’s no sign this is an April Fools’ Day joke. But it’s possible.

The patent application is for “Blow Event Detection and Mode Switching with an Electronic Device.” It points out that “portable electronic devices often require a first hand of a user to hold or wear the device and a second hand to physically interact with the device.” That causes a problem if both hands are occupied.

The proposed solution is for the device to include a blow-detection assembly. In technical terms, it can sense “a current of air operative to increase the pressure.” This would allow the user to control the iPhone or Apple Watch without physically touching the screen.

A breath-controlled iPhone or Apple Watch is possible. Maybe.

Again, Cult of Mac cannot be certain this isn’t an elaborate April Fools’ Day joke. If this is an actual proposal, it’s … unique. It would require designers to overcome problems with false positives. No one wants their handset or wearable to start operating itself whenever the wind blows. Or they’re on a bike or riding in an open car.

A patent application isn’t a guarantee that Apple intends to turn an idea into a future product. The company regularly patents concepts and designs that never make it into the real world. Apple receives a lot of patents. Whether we’ll ever see a breath-controlled iPhone or Apple Watch remains to be seen.