iPhones, iPads and Macs may soon serve as smoke detectors

Future iPhones, iPads and Macs may serve as smoke detectors to provide security for homes and offices. Apple has filed for a patent (number 9,123,221) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for "wireless device networks with smoke detection capabilities."

According to the patent filing, and iOS or OS X device may use a built-in smoke detector may use the smoke detector to monitor for the presence of smoke. If it detects smoke, the iPhone, iPad or Mac could issue an alert or take other "suitable action."

For example, the iOS or OS X device could transmit alerts to nearby electronic devices and to remote electronic devices such as electronic devices at emergency services facilities. Alerts could contain maps and graphical representations of buildings in which smoke has been detected. 

What's more, motion detectors and other sensors and circuitry could be used to determine whether electronic devices are being used by users and could be used in determining where the electronic devices are located. Alerts may contain information on the location of detected smoke and building occupants.

Apple says that smoke detectors are generally mounted at fixed locations within a building. A building occupant who is located in a portion of a building that is remote from fixed smoke detector locations may be out of range of smoke detector coverage and may have difficulty hearing audible alarms generated by the smoke detectors. Smoke detector alarms are typically limited in scope and don't include information of interest to first responders and neighbors such as information on current building occupants. 

In the patent filing, Apple says it "would therefore be desirable to be able to provide systems with improved smoke detection and alert capabilities." The company thinks the iPhone, iPad and Mac could fill that need.