We have all had those experiences where we've suddenly been distracted by a mobile phone lighting up (for example, why is it impossible to not be distracted by somebody's phone lighting up at the cinema?). According to the latest patent granted to Microsoft, this could soon be a thing of the past.
Microsoft has developed a system which introduces new technology which would create a mode on mobile phones that automatically picks up on the user's surroundings and adapts so that it is less disruptive in quiet and dark places. The patent claims to detect when an 'environmental condition' has crossed a threshold whereby the volume or brightness has changed considerably to that of a dark room such as a cinema, theatre or bedroom. At that point, the device will switch from its normal operating mode into the pre-installed 'inconspicuous' mode. Once this mode is activated, the device will silence any incoming alerts, the screen will dim and the home screen will only display limited information.
Initially the technology will be activated by a number of factors. First, the detection of dimmed light and sound. Second, where the GPS is activated on a device, it will detect when a local cinema, restaurant or theatre is in close proximity and will change modes to suit. Third, if the WIFI is active and it detects a wireless local area network which suggests the place in its name such as CINEMACLOUD etc., it will sense that the mode may be required. Additionally, if a user has events planned in the device's calendar such as a meal in a restaurant, it will switch into the inconspicuous mode at the time of the planned occasion. The user can of course also select the mode whenever they feel appropriate.
There is no doubt that this is very smart technology however no clarification has been given as to how the device will detect whether it is simply in a handbag or a pocket which could activate the inconspicuous mode. We're sure that more developments will follow.
The patent number is US 8,934,879 and was granted on 13 January 2015. A copy of the application can be accessed at the United States Patents and Trademarks Office at: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/index.jspin: Companies, Digital/Tech, News, Patents