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Your future iPhone might turn itself off when you aren’t looking at it

As with most patents, nothing is set in stone at this time.

apple store selling iphone in new york
Image: Unsplash

If you’re often worried about the battery life of your mobile devices, maybe this new Apple patent will assuage your fears. The premise? Using gaze detection and other attention-sensing methods to turn off iPhones and more when it thinks you’re not using them.

That could be revolutionary for getting longer battery life out of Apple’s space-constrained mobile devices. Currently, every Apple device from the Apple Watch to the MacBook can do things to save power, like dimming the screen or turning it off entirely, but the control over it is very limited. It’s all time-based, based on touch or the length of time since you last asked Siri something.

This new patent goes much further, collating data from all of the sensors on the device – including the camera(s) – into something Apple dubs the “attention detection service.”

That could do any number of power-saving functions based on how you’re using the device. For example, if you start listening to a podcast, then put your phone down, the iPhone could know you want audio but don’t need to see the screen, either dimming it or turning it off until it detects you looking at the screen again.

uspto image from apple patent on figuring out if you're paying attention or not for the purposes of battery life saving
Image: USPTO

The hard part is figuring out exactly which sensors are relevant depending on what the user is doing on the device, and then figuring out which parts of the device can be switched off or put into a sleep state.

Could we see an iPhone that goes into a sleep state apart from the cellular module, so it’s using the minimal battery until you get a call or pick it up to use an app? That could mean multi-day battery life, even with the same battery tech used in the current devices.

Don’t get too excited at this stage though, as granted patents don’t always make it to market, or even if they do it could be years until we see this tech. Still, it’s a nice thought that your future devices could only drain the battery when you’re actively using them.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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