Cool Additions to the iPhone

Last modified on August 26th, 2010

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: I think the iPhone would be a lot cooler if it had a temperature sensor on it. In terms of technology, all it is a single temperature controlled resistor (called a thermistor), probably worth about 5 cents. But it would be cool to be on a patio and be able to see how hot it is.

I also think that if everyone opted in to given this data to a central repository, that it would be possible to increase the accuracy of our existing weather models a great deal. Currently weather models are primed using sparse initial conditions. For example, in Vancouver, I believe the only data comes from downtown, the north shore, and a weather station out in Richmond. So, three points representing a whole city.

Another good idea came from my friend Alex – having a pressure sensor in the iPhone would also allow it to report altitude fairly easily. That would also be another great point for weather data, and another interesting piece to submit to a public repository.

Anyways, just a few random ideas. But given that the iPhone already has a compass, both a temperature and a pressure sensor don’t really seem like crazy ideas to me anymore.

9 responses to “Cool Additions to the iPhone”

  1. Duncan says:

    Email it to Steve Jobs. Give it a catchy title and he might respond

  2. Dan says:

    I’ve been hoping for a temperature sensor since the 3G… And, I don’t understand why the compass beat in the 3GS. This would be so useful for many different applications and could make for some cool games/game integration!

  3. Dan says:

    beat it in*

  4. Dale Mugford says:

    Would not the phone itself cause fluctuations in reported temperature? Or, at very least holding it in ones hand? Or exposing it to sunlight/shade? I think the variation, coupled with the fact that there’d be a whole lot of reporting from inside areas (I bet over 90% of usage occurs in an inside environment) wouldn’t offer much.

    As for the compass, its great for me with fishing. Detecting when the wind changes direction, even by 10-15 degrees moves fish. Especially for structure oriented fish like Bass, they posistion differently around structure like weedlines and rocks, and helps me to know the best casting locations for locating them.

  5. Duane Storey says:

    In retrospect, perhaps using it for things like a weather model may not make the most sense (although with enough data temperature fluctuations can be filtered out). But I still think it’s useful for the every day person.

    I have yet to pick my phone up and think it feels warm, other than when it’s plugged into the wall, so I really don’t think it’s heating up much during normal usage. I mean, the compass has issues too if you’re near anything magnetic or metal. I’m guessing your indoor/outdoor comment was with the weather data aspect, and I would probably agree with that. But for normal usage I don’t think it’s a problem, as the compass isn’t really useful indoor either and people like yourself are using it only outdoors.

    Sunlight/shade would affect it as well, but it also affects every other temperature sensor out there (including all the ones in cars, on patios, etc), so I don’t think that’s a big issue. For example, when I get into my car after it’s been sitting in the sun, it’s usually about 5C warming than after I’ve been driving for a bit. I personally get asked a lot how hot or warm it is outside – I think it would be nice to just flip on my iPhone and tell people a rough idea within a few degrees or so. If I want super accurate I’ll fire up the Internet and look it up (although those numbers are usually delayed an hour or so), otherwise I think a little error would be acceptable in it.

    I just think it would add another interesting aspect to data. Instead of going on my little hike and knowing how far/high I hiked, it would be cool to look back and go “wow, it sure was hot that day?”, or “I can’t believe how cold it was at the top!”

    I’m suspect lots of people wouldn’t make use of it, but I think lots would, and app developers would find other cool ways to integrate it. Imagine all the little Anime girls going crazy because they have a MoodRing iPhone app that changes colour with their temperature!

  6. Duncan says:

    The next iPhone is said to possible incorporate bio-security features that recognise you with iris and heart beat.

    A build in heart rate monitor would be a useful addtion.

  7. Duncan says:

    Should read”built in” 🙂

  8. Sylvain says:

    I have a temperature sensor on my good old Motorola Talk About Radio. It is more or less always wrong cause even in the winter when I use it most, I keep it in my jacket pocket and I am never patient enough to leave it out in the open long enough to see what the temperature is. Now it could be that Motorola doesn’t have a good implementation of it but I think that’s just the nature of having the device in your pockets most of the time.

  9. Dale Mugford says:

    I think a combination of real-time sensor + available data for the area (within the hour or so) could provide reasonablly accurate info.

    The thing is what Duane said- that it could add it as meta data on photos/videos, or that you could see things at a glance from a weather point of view.

    And hey, who doesn’t like talking bout the weather?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *