Apple Researching Features To Help With Emergency Calls

An patent application was made public today dating back to 2007 that shows Apple has been working on ways to make the iPhone more useful for making emergency calls. The patent discusses how the device would recognize an emergency call, and the activation of various power saving measures, confirmation buttons, and “phrase buttons”.

The process starts by recognizing that an emergency call has been dialed. This could be done by characterizing certain phone numbers as emergency numbers, like 911. Some of these would be predetermined by Apple, and others could be added by the user in the Contacts with a field to denote that it is for emergencies. When one of these numbers is dialed, it would activate features to aid the user during the call.

For example, if the user presses a button to disconnect an emergency call, emergency-mode processor 106 may query the user for confirmation before disconnecting the call. The confirmation may be in the form of a button, a code or password, a verbal acknowledgement, and/or other input by the user. Emergency-mode processor 106 may even disable the user’s ability to disconnect the call. As a result, the call may only be disconnected by someone (e.g., an emergency operator) on the other end of the emergency call. Further, the user may select settings to specify the level of difficulty and the methods of disconnecting emergency calls. 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.

The detection of an emergency call taking place could also activate power-saving measures to keep the device running longer, such as dimming the display and turning off power-consuming sensors like WiFi, Bluetooth, and camera sensorsthat aren’t necessary during the call.

Another feature they propose are the activation of phrase buttons that a user could press when they are unable to speak. Examples Apple describes are choking, speaking GPS coordinates, or requests to call a friend or family member.

[via MacRumors]

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