Dear Steve Jobs: Please Add Fire Alarm Sensors to iPhones [Video]




Espen Horne, a filmmaker in Norway, had an eerie experience with an iPhone and a fire alarm, resulting in one of those Reese’s peanut butter moments.

The next logical step: he made a three-minute clip asking Steve Jobs to integrate a fire alarm sensor on the iPhone.

The iPhone wouldn’t substitute the regular fire alarm but augment it, setting off the iPhone alarm too, “because sometimes people don’t wake up when the alarm is in another room.”
Far fetched? Maybe, but the point Horne makes about how iPhone owners are rarely far from their devices is a good one.

Perhaps Jobs is the wrong person to ask: could there be an app for it?

Via kryssklipp

  • James Groom

    Good idea however would this not drain on power because the chip would be constantly running and looking for a signal. There is also the problem of the battery almost flat are you forgetting too charge it at times especially when really sleepy.

    The other option would be to make a Fire Alarm unit sends a “Message” to the iPhone via an App that then sets off a sound resembling a Fire Alarm going off this would be very interesting to see.

    I like the concept but there is some technical things to work out also with this one.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I solved this “problem” by putting a smoke detector in every bedroom. In fact, I think that’s code now for new houses, at least where I live.

  • AllAmericanGeek

    Far more people are killed or injured from distracted driving.

    Create a setting/feature that when enabled automatically replies to an incoming text with a predefined text when, by way of GPS signal, it is identified that the phone is travelling greater than a predefined speed.”I am driving right now and will reply as soon as I am safely parked.”

  • martinberoiz

    Is this guy for real? This is so stupid! If the iPhone can hear the sound why wouldn’t you?

  • Mvmcool21

    It can be done easily, wouldn´t drain any battery cos you could just handle the noise as an interruption, which would then execute all the software. It would be easier though to have a small Dock Connector device attached to the iphone to detect smoke or even other gases, whenever entering contaminated areas like my bathroom after my brother has used it.  It can all be done, just needs the proper funding.

  • Jaime Antonio Rivera

    Really? I agree. Jobs is the wrong person to ask. Have someone develop an app for that. Besides, this is not a good idea. If you can´t hear the fire alarm, you won´t hear the phone either. iPhones do not have a loud speaker while fire alarms tend to be extremely loud.

  • jethrObama

    I actually think this is a good idea.  I always hear my iphone alarms.  However, Apple never solicits ideas.  If they do ‘happen’ to put a fire alarm sensor on the iphone, you can bet that it came from one of their existing 20,000 employees.

  • Jahhh

    Why would it even need to reply? Just make it automute it so you don’t feel inclined to check it out. Should be an optional setting of course.

  • jethrObama

    …. besides, who wants to paste their iphone to the ceiling every night before sleepy time??

  • martinberoiz

    The iPhone has an accelerometer, not a speedometer. It can’t detect constant velocity.

  • RobPungello

    Using GPS signals, you can determine how fast the phone is traveling. Physics lesson: Speed=Distance/Time. If you know distance (GPS) and time (clock), you can figure out speed.

  • Jahhh

    Obviously, it doesn’t have a smoke detector either. The whole discussion is about ADDING it.

  • nthnm

    This is a stupid idea. Any smoke detector/fire alarm I’ve ever heard is WAY louder than sound my phone can produce. And while I don’t think it’s law everywhere, most professionals say you should have a smoke detector outside of EVERY sleep area in the home along with having one on each floor. “What a stupid idea.” I bet that would be Mr Jobs one sentence reply back in an email.

  • Jaah

    Not necessarily. It could be too quiet for you to hear. Or do you wake up at night when a car passes your window? Or a drunk yells outside? Or your radiator makes a noise? Or your firealarm goes off in another room? Those things aren’t always near you, depending on how well you have planned, as you can see in this example.

    Stop calling everything stupid without thinking about it.

  • Mike Rathjen

    “Apple never solicits ideas.”

    Yes they do.

  • MacAdvisor

    There’s a big problem with this idea. We don’t really have fire alarms, but smoke alarms. They are the ceiling because smoke is hot, hot stuff rises, and, therefore, smoke is on the ceiling. Unless one wants to go to bed at night attaching one’s iPhone to the bedroom ceiling, the smoke will reach the iPhone about the same time it does the sleepers mouth. By that time, the sleeper is likely dead already. 

    However, the iPhone has several flashlight apps and they are useful for escaping a burning building.

  • jethrObama

     “Yes they do.”

    No… actually… they don’t.  (sorry)

  • Julian Nguyen

    How did his iPhone create the two new alarms? This was where I was confused…

  • Barton Lynch

    I thought this was a joke. SO stupid.

  • Maria

    What if the person responding is a passenger in a moving car? Why wouldn’t everybody just keep it disabled the .

    I ran into this “feature” with the built in Nav in my Aunts car.  As the front seat passenger, I couldn’t change the destination unless the car stopped moving.  Good idea, bad implementation.

  • martinberoiz

    Oh, that’s clever, I didn’t think of that.

  • martinberoiz

    The device would have to be listening all the time and checking if it’s a fire alarm. That has to drain battery.

  • Reivax

    Apple certainly wouldn’t want the liability involved with something like this. Internal iDevice space is also too precious for sub-niche componentry. :: And just imagine your iPhone’s putative smoke detector ‘automatically’ malfunctioning in your pocket during a crowded movie. Fun.

  • Logan

    All that you need is the smoke detector companies to make a sensor that is internet connected, so that when the sensor detects smoke, and sets off the alarm, it would also send you a text message, email, or call your phone. So, it’s pretty simple. Any company that makes smart home technology could do it the same way you can adjust your lighting or thermostat and home security with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This has the added benefit of telling you something is wrong at your house, when you are not there, which could be even more valuable info to have. Like when you are at work, it might be nice for your house to call you up and let you know it’s on fire. 

  • RobPungello

    If you look around in the App Store, there are actually a few apps that do just that (tell you how fast you’re going based on GPS info).

    I’ve tested one, and it was actually pretty accurate.

  • netnerd258

    Fucking bullshit.

  • netnerd258

    Fucking bullshit.

  • Thatisinteresting


    I think everyone’s comments here make a good discussion.

    For me there are two things that stand out :

    1.  The link up with an existing fire alarm system could be really useful in large hotel or apartment complexes in situations where somebody makes a decision that only a partial fire alarm is set off – or the building close next door.

    2.  As I understand it, it’s the smoke that kills the most.
    Whilst it would be good to have a smoke detector in the iphone, I probably would not want that for 3 reasons:

    It’ll probably add too much bulk to an iphone, it’ll probably add a larger ‘hole’ in the iphone (I don’t want water damage), and I although an optical detection system maybe would work I wouldn’t want any that contained any americium-241 used by ionization detection methods.

    There’s also the ‘false alarms’ to consider, and whether it could be turned off (e.g. inflight)

  • Henrik Christiansen

    Keep it simple. Add a regular smoke detector in every room, they’re not more than 20 bucks a pop, even in Norway. Problem solved.

  • Application

    This should more be a video about the “app that he should have made”, instead of chip? idea. bah..
    Good video upon the last 1 and half min.

    Tip: upload more videos on your channel smoke guy, couse this view will only last so long, maybe an “Idea for steve video blog HD”, haha.. omg please dont… 

  • Simon

    I’ve got an intruder alarm in my house, and it sends me SMS’s when thing go on…I also have my smoke alarms wired to it so I get an SMS if any of them go off. The BEST iOS feature for me was in the last release when you could customise SMS tones…My iPhone lights up like a christmas tree if I get an alert from my alarm…And there is no sleeping through the tone…

    Your right, it’s really easy and already done…And very handy to get alerts when I’m not in.

  • Simon

    It would have been quicker for him to put a smoke alarm in his bedroom than do this video..

  • Simon

    Oh, and also I personally wouldn’t have something so critical relying on a device that needs charging pretty much everyday…

    The day you have a fire will be the day you forget to plug your phone in.

  • Beware

    How about a pill dispenser so I dont forget to take my blood pressure pills?

    Or an inbuilt alumin swiss army knife ?

    Or a toilet paper roll for those moments when you forgot to buy them?

    But the best one could be an app that tells you where is the nearest condom machine!

  • Son1ze

    So basically he’s essentially purposing a Shazam or Soundhound for fire alarms…

    Umm novel & well presented pitch but so not feasible. I’m a deep sleeper too so I can appreciate the idea but like everyone else said it’d be easier to visit your local Home Depot and pick up another fire alarm for the room with the bad acoustics…and while you’re at it pick up a small extinguisher so you can actually try to prevent the fire from spreading…

    However I’m sure if he asked nicely perhaps Steve Jobs would implement a functionality that would sync him some rain from the iCloud for FREE to all his iOS devices. That or set a geofence Reminder around your bedroom perimeter that reminds you to cal 9-1-1 for when you end up run to the streets in your boxer briefs during your normal hours of sleep.

  • Son1ze

    Just a second ago I spun down to the coffee shop at 21km/hr on my bike as per Cyclemeter app. I believe I was speeding as per the 10km/hr bike lane speed limit sign. Lol.

  • imajoebob

    A typical smoke alarm is designed to exceed 85 decibels, equivalent to a Boeing 737 on takeoff. I doubt your iPhone can come close to that volume, even on a different floor.  I do like the idea of a consortium of manufacturers looking into developing a system (bluetooth?) that would transmit to your phone.  But there are a lot of different problems with unintended consequences to deal with.

    Currently, I’d have my worries about iCloud liability issues if I owned a lot of Apple stock (where’s the remote backup for all this data?).  Can you imagine the liability issues when someone’s iPhone DOESN’T wake them for a fire?  I don’t want any part of that responsibility.

    It’s a nice, though ultimately impractical idea.


    If the iOS alarms had bugs in them these past two times that our clocks switched an hour, what makes you think this iSmellSmoke Fire alarm feature wont have these bugs lol. 

  • Fire Professional

    there are such systems out there that have iphone and smart phone apps for your security, fire and video CCTV application.  Smoke detectors battery operated are relatively inexpensive and can be installed in every bedroom and outside of every bedroom to ensure that you have proper coverage along with one at each level of a stairwell if you multi level occupancy

  • Fire Professional

    International building code along with NFPA life safety requires all new residential occupancies to have on smoke in each bedroom, outside of each bedroom and one on each level of occupancy.  The earlier the detection the better chances of saving your life.  Not only is the code requiring smoke detectors but coming down the pipe line very soon carbon monoxide detectors will be required also.

  • Kyle Schuler

    It is some much easier to install a cheap smoke/CO detector inside each of your bedrooms.  Besides a smoke alarm sounder is ten times as loud as an iPhone.  Check out more at

  • Kyle Schuler

    Also with high tech fire alarm systems there are ways to install systems that can send the end user alerts via email and or text in the event of a fire or emergency.  If your fire alarm system is monitored then you can let the central station know that you would like to be called or sent a text with particular zones.  Pretty standard stuff.

  • Kyle Schuler

    Typically a smoke alarm installed in a residential application whether it be a stand alone 9 volt or connected to a building fire alarm system it should be loud enough to hear vs. an iPhone speaker.  where audible appliances are installed in sleeping areas they shall have a sound level of at least 15 dBA above the average ambient sound level or 5 dBA above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds or a sound level of at least 70 dBA which ever is greater.  These measurements are to be performed at the pillow.  If an obstruction such as a wall is between the smoke and pillow the measurement must be made when the door is closed.

  • richarddavieselectrics

    I can see that having a fire alarm sensor built into the iPhone would be useful, I’m just convinced that this is the way that it should work. For instance, if you were staying somewhere where no alarms were fitted, having the security of the fire alarm system on the phone would be very useful. However, simply augmenting the existing alarm system that is already sounding seems like a bit of a waste of time to me.

  • bonro001

    Based on the responses, this might just be crazy enough to work.  Aside from the liability and volume issues already noted, if it saved 1 life, would be worth it. 

    And +1 on the video, great way to post your idea!