Apple has been granted a patent for a system that would let users discreetly alert authorities in an emergency using the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint scanning feature.
By analyzing the specific manner in which Touch ID is used, the system essentially turns it into a panic button. Apple’s patent explains how the system could look at things like the level of pressure used to activate Touch ID, its use in combination with a certain swipe on the screen, or a pattern in tapping the button – a literal S-O-S message, perhaps. The unique activation would then trigger a 9-1-1 call, and could even get the device to start recording audio and video, and share GPS data.
Of course, as with any other Apple patent, there’s no guarantee such a system will ever be realized on the iPhone. It’s especially questionable now, at a time when rumors are circulating that Apple might not even include Touch ID in this year’s flagship new iPhone, thanks to frustrations in trying to get the system embedded in the device’s display.
The patent was first filed in 2013, when Touch ID was just being introduced to a public unfamiliar with smartphone fingerprint scanning, a feature that is now commonplace.