The US Patent & Trademark office has just published a patent application for “FINGERPRINT ACTIVATION OF A PANIC MODE OF OPERATION FOR A MOBILE DEVICE” by Apple.
Most Apple users has become accustomed to Touch ID, which was filed for a patent license back in May 2014, currently available for any product from iPhone 5s to the latest iPhone 6s. The fingerprint recognition sensor provides an extra layer of protection for the owners: by placing a specific pre-assigned finger on Touch ID, the device will be placed into a special defend mode that blocks access to personal data kept within the phone.
“The mobile device would appear empty and applications would appear not to have any personal information,” said Apple.
Other less defensive functions of Touch ID include quick screen unlocking and making payments on iTune or Apple Pay.
Even though you could assign up to five fingerprints, they just all serve the same purposes above with absolutely no other function.
However, Touch ID possibly is on the list of receiving an upgrade with a new panic mode. As described in the patent, the panic mode will enable the user to choose a “secret” fingerprint. In case of an emergency situation, users can use this panic mode to not only secure information but also to collect evidences and alerting emergency respond providers by means of activating camera and microphone. These pictures, audios or videos “can be supplied to a responding police force for assistance in responding to or following up on the panic mode,” the patent notes.
Apple also predicts that in many instances the wrongdoers will be known by the user, so the user could simply say the person’s name or continuously record audio, which automatically transmitted to an available server.
Alternatively, the device can be transformed into a signal beacon to mark the location and send emergency request to any server available.
The patent also hints the future scenario of multiple panic modes for different situations, activated by different designated fingers.
A more complicated way of sending request to the authorities
With phones’ value to prospective thieves increasing in terms of personal data and resale value of the handset itself, the panic mode is actually something prized.
While these functions cannot physically protect your iPhone from being stolen, they will surely render the phone useless (all data inaccessible) or even danger to the thief (picture, video taken, marking signal, etc.). No doubt those malicious wrong-doers will be extremely discouraged by this news and only a spectacularly stupid or immensely desperate thief would think of stealing an iPhone with panic mode on.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who is zealous on the issue of user privacy, told the Telegraph nearly half a year ago: “life isn’t about money, life is about doing the right thing. This has been a core value of our company for a long time.”
Like any other patent, this patent guarantees nothing about the likelihood of this panic mode being implemented by the company in near future or any future at all. “Many companies are in the practice of patenting certain functions or materials to actively prevent rivals from using the technologies.” said the Telegraph.