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New Types of Sensors In Future Mobile Phones: Altitude, Emotion and More

The New York Times’ Nick Bilton spoke with Benedetto Vigna, general manager of the MEMS division of STMicroelectronics, about what kinds of sensors we might be seeing in the next generation of mobile phones.

The iPhone presently uses a number of sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and digital compass. These sensors have found to be quite useful in various social applications and games.

The next generation of sensors could include additional location providing ones, such as an altimeter:

Mr. Vigna said the next smartphones would have altimeter sensors that would be able to detect your elevation. These sensors will tell people what floor they are on in a building, or could be used to more precisely determine where you are in relation to your friends on a location-based service, he said.

Other possibilities include heart monitors, perspiration/mood sensors, and temperature/humidity sensors. The new sensors could even be used in games to determine excitement or emotion during gameplay.

Meanwhile, a combination of factors (phone position, and other patterns) could be used to identify the user for security purposes.

After you use a new phone for a short period of time, it will start to learn your patterns and automatically lock or unlock the phone accordingly. This could be used for more secure banking too.