Pretty much every Apple fan knows about the fantastic Touch ID feature on newer iPhones and iPads, and soon it might become even better.
Apple’s first iPhone to use the biometric feature was the iPhone 5s, then Touch ID was later added to the iPad, giving the tablet users the same easy way to unlock their device that iPhone users have. Now the feature might be getting beefed up. Apple recently filed a patent that will use the fingerprint feature to give the iPhone a “panic button.”
The patent application describes a system that allows the fingerprint sensor to raise an alarm when the user is in an emergency situation, as reported by Liam Tung from ZD Net.
Since the iPhone can store up to five different fingerprints, it’s possible for the sensor to be used for multiple purposes. One fingerprint can be set to unlock the phone and another to set off an alarm.
Apple’s design also protects user data and the iPhone from theft, should someone steal the phone and manage to unlock it, panic mode keeps personal information locked and inaccessible. That includes things like contacts, messages, and media. Tung’s article also says that panic mode will make the device look like it was recently restored to factory default settings.
Not only is this a beneficial addition to Touch ID, law enforcement will be able to collect evidence in criminal cases or allow a victim to signal for help during a crime.
The patent states “by means of the mobile camera, a photo, a series of photos or a video may be captured of the situation or persons(s) acting in a threatening manner that led the user to activate the panic mode.”
The material taken by the camera could easily be sent to the iCloud or another cloud service.
Apple says that in many instances the wrongdoer will be known by the user, so one could say the person’s name or record audio that could be transmitted to a remote server. That would certainly help in identifying potential perpetrators or for use in court.
Recordings or photos could be made available to law enforcement easily and efficiently. Finally, the panic mode could act like a GPS device, altering to a person’s location, and allowing first responders to find a person in distress.
A potential alternative is to use panic mode to use the iPhone as a beacon, sending a signal to a nearby device. This would flag the location of the user and reporting the emergency. What this could do is give law enforcement nearby a warning that there is someone in need of help. Another scenario would be that of a lost hiker being able to send out a signal altering first responders of his or her location. Shopkeepers could use it as a replacement for a silent alarm, allowing police to be altered without tipping off a robber.
Apple’s Touch ID is a convenient feature, allowing people to unlock their iPhones without having to tap in their code on the lock screen. Now it looks like there could be a new feature that will benefit both law enforcement and victims of crimes. Panic Mode might be able to send out a message to people nearby, making us more aware of what is going on around us and inspiring us to act. Perhaps this new feature might just make the world a better place.