Apple Patent Could Ease 911 Cellphone Calls

Engineers from Apple have applied for a patent on an "emergency" mode for cell phones that would squeeze every last drop of energy out of the batteries.

The phone would recognize emergency calls when the user dialed an emergency number, such as 911 in the United States. But a number also could be stored as an "emergency number" on the phone (a spouse, child, parent, for example) or the user could manually put the phone in emergency mode.

The process would do a variety of things. First off, it would disable "non-essential hardware components" and applications on the phone, reduce power to the screen (i.e., it would get darker) and potentially reduce the phone's processor speed. It also would make it harder to disconnect the call and enable "emergency phrase buttons" on the phone. GPS might not be considered non-essential, however, as it could help emergency workers find the caller - quite useful in case the caller, say, breaks his leg hiking in a remote area.

Here's the really cool thing: If it's an emergency and you can't speak, you can press a button and a pre-determined "emergency phrase" is spoken for you. For someone who's asthmatic and suffering an attack, the emergency phrase could provide that information to a 911 operator, for example. The caller could pre-record a message or use a pre-selected default message - and also inform the operator that he can't speak. One pre-recorded phrase could even suggest specific treatment. But wait, there's more:

The user may also press buttons to communicate other information, such as his/her location, and/or request the 911 operator to contact a friend and/or family member.

And these aren't just about making emergency calls. The patent indicates in several spots that the phones could be configured to preserve maximum power in case of receiving an emergency call, which likely will give parents a reason to heave a sigh of relief and rush out to buy an iPhone. Just remember, it's a patent application, and no phones have this yet.

The application also indicates there would be a way to prevent an emergency call from being disconnected without confirmation from the caller. Even if the caller hit disconnect, he might have to type in a code or otherwise indicate that he meant to hang up. The disconnection method could be customized, making it as difficult or as simple as the user preferred, even making it depend on what kind of emergency call:

The user may also select settings for each individual emergency number. For example, the user may disable the ability to disconnect a 911 call while activating a disconnect confirmation in other emergency calls.

Again, this is all theory at the moment, but the end result could be more lives saved. Not too shabby.
AsanDumpy 5 years ago

Wow, once again Apple seems to be on top of their game! Most impressive!



drossi 5 years ago

I am unsure where Apple is on this one with the 3GS, but where I live several lost people have been found in the mountainous backcountry because they send a text message out on their phone.

Most phones will continue to try to send a text message. But my iPhone does not do this--if there is no service, it won't even try, it will just quit.

I'd sure like to see the iPhone be able to try to send out texts or at least allow people to have that emergency setting to enable it, as text messages require very little signal to send out, even when there are no bars.

adaviel 5 years ago

I agree - sending a text message requires less energy than a voice call, especially outside urban areas where the phone must transmit at high power (as I recall, cellphones negotiate an optimum power regime with the tower to minimize spillover and incidentally maximize battery life.) A phone will run itts battery down in a day or so trying to find a tower from a shielded location or out-of-coverage area (such as my office; if I leave my phone on it will be dead the next day)

So the best strategy in backcountry is to leave the phone off, but check for text messages occasionally. Then if you have an emergency, compose one or more SMS messages with relevant details (location, GPS coordinates, number in party, nature of emergency, description of people/vehicles) and send them to Twitter, Facebook, and anyone who might respond - in the absence of an SMS-capable emergency call centre. Then you can watch your power drain away while you try and explain everything to the 911 operator, assuming you don't get cut off due to low signal strength  and have to re-dial and explain all over to a different operator.

I talked to our local call centre about this and was told that there are plans to SMS-enable some centres. I'm not sure of the timeline.

I believe SMS requires less power and is more reliable than Internet connections such as GPRS, EDGE etc. (some of which work by bonding multiple SMS channels together to get enough bandwidth). So you are better sending SMS than trying to send an email (Blackberry is different and may be as good).

Dave_HH 5 years ago

For sure this is a natural with any service provider. You can think of a number of beneficial scenarios too. Perhaps you're in an emergency situation where speaking isn't an option, like in hiding from a perpetrator for example too.

LVerma 3 years ago

Please see the already existing patent Emergency dialing of preset numbers in a cellphone by pressing a single

Button / emergency button. Refer to patent held on Automatically disabling a cellphone while Driving a car and

It's applications in an Aircraft seat .... Etc.refer to patent held by mr. Yashpal Singh / lokinder Singh verma /

Anirudh Singh / Manu Singh .

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="LVerma"]Please see the already existing patent[/quote]

OK, you have a patent. Do you also have a device available to the public that utilizes your idea and benefits society?

Or are you sitting on an idea, waiting for someone to make your fortune for you?

ADaviel1 3 years ago

This is I think a bad idea - we have been asked by emergency providers not to program a hotkey for 911 etc. because it gets pressed by kids fooling with the phone, or by accident in someone's pocket. Then they are required to dispatch an officer to the address if they cannot get a convincing explanation when they call back using caller ID. Very wasteful of time and money, and could in extreme circumstances cost lives if responders were all out investigating erroneous calls.

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