The technology detailed in a new Apple patent could turn the iPhone into a car safety feature. The concept is an extension of Apple’s Digital Car Key, and would essentially turn the iPhone into a breathalyzer test that could prevent someone from starting a car if they are inebriated.
The Apple Digital Car Key debuted in July of 2020, and is primarily pitched as a convenience feature. The solution is compatible with the iPhone and the Apple Watch, and allows the owners of compatible vehicles to unlock and start their cars with an Apple device. In doing so, the solution eliminates the need for a traditional key fob when someone leaves the house.
The proposed system, on the other hand, would make it more difficult for someone to get on the road, insofar as it adds an additional step to the ignition process, and creates a mechanism to thwart the driver entirely. As Forbes reports, owners would need to set up the sobriety check on their own to use the system as currently described, and it’s unclear if there would be any workarounds for those who fail a test but are nevertheless determined to drive home on their own. However, it could still serve as an important safety feature for those who want to take responsibility and ensure they do not drive home drunk if they’ve spent too much time at the bar.
The sobriety check could take the form of a breathalyzer (performed with a smart accessory or the iPhone itself), or a simple puzzle to gauge alertness. In the meantime, Apple has hinted at other features that would allow people to use their smartphones to control systems like the AC remotely. The Digital Car Keys themselves can be secured with device biometrics. Apple also introduced a wearable blood oxygen sensor with the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020.