Hazardous gases in the air are extremely difficult for humans to detect until it is typically too late, such as with carbon monoxide, a common gas known for being potentially lethal. Short of using a device that can monitor the air nearby, the person simply won’t know there is an invisible danger until they either smell or taste it, their skin is irritated, or they feel some other medical symptom.
While there are devices and detectors capable of determining the presence of poisonous gases and alerting the user, they are separate items that most people simply would not feel the need to carry around with them. The ability to slip such functionality into a smartphone or another regularly-used item would give an easily portable warning device that could be widespread and effectively blanket many areas with a level of enhanced safety around gases.
In a pair of patent applications published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple has come up with a few ideas for sensing the air for elements, and alerting the user based on the system’s findings.
The first application, titled “Compact Particulate Material Sensor,” is more aimed at being able to detect air pollution. Apple notes fine particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5mu.m is only visible as a haze at elevated levels, but can be easily breathed in and “probably never leave the body,” which could exacerbate conditions of respiratory disease.
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