Apple patents a new way to control iPhones – blowing into them

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Apple patents a new way to control iPhones – blowing into them
Imagine controlling an iPhone by simply blowing into itUnsplash
  • Apple’s patent suggests users can perform actions on their iPhone or Watch by simply blowing into them.
  • The ‘blow events’ would be detected using a motion sensor and detecting changes in air pressure beyond a certain threshold.
  • Apple has also patented a way to transform any surface into a touchscreen.
Apple has patented a new way to control iPhones, describing a procedure to manage iPhones by blowing into them. To make it even more interesting, this feature could be expanded to Apple Watches, too.

According to a patent filing by the iPhone maker, the feature could allow users to switch between modes, likely extending to navigating the user interface. The patent suggests that the ‘blow events’ would be detected with a combination of a motion sensor and detecting changes in air pressure beyond a certain threshold.

Here’s an extract from the filing:

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“Systems, methods, and computer-readable media for detecting blow events with an electronic device and for switching between different modes of an electronic device based on detected blow events are provided.”

However, it is not exactly clear how feasible this would be in real life in case it’s windy outdoors and there’s no particular way to differentiate between wind and a user blowing into the iPhone or Apple Watch, unlike voice detection in which the device is trained to differentiate between a user’s relatively unique voice, from background noise and the voice of other people.

It’s not the first time a blowing gesture has been used on a device, recently Sony had added this feature to its DualSense controller for the PS5, but instead of a motion sensor, it uses the mic to detect when a person is blowing into the controller.

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Apple’s patent description suggests that blowing into the iPhone or Apple Watch could allow the user to avoid the use of the other hand to touch the device to perform an action. Voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant help in this regard to a certain extent, but they are still not a complete replacement to manual interaction with the device.

Patents may not always translate to real-world features



It’s hard to imagine that ‘blow events’ would be a better or a relatively useful replacement to voice assistants. In any case, patent filings are not a confirmation of companies actually bringing those features to their devices.

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For instance, Apple has filed another patent that claims to transform any surface into a touchscreen. This particular patent combines information from an infrared and a standard camera, fusing regular vision with ‘thermal vision’ and finally, translating it into a touch surface.

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