Currently, the iPhone's fingerprint sensor is used to authenticate a user for the purpose of allowing secure access to the contents of a device. However, Apple suggests that pressing a designated finger to the sensor could activate a panic mode of operation that would prevent access to the device.
In the panic mode, personal data stored on the mobile device is not accessible or viewable to the user. In an example, panic mode can be pre-configured by the mobile device owner to implement a variety of different security functions ranging from securing personal data to resetting the device to locking out all functions until a password or different designated finger is scanned. Panic mode in particular is designed to protect both user data and the mobile device from theft. In other implementations, the user may register particular fingerprints to be associated with different modes of operation and activate the different modes based on the particular fingerprints.
Apple suggests that panic mode could trigger additional functions. For example, it could emit an audio alarm, activate a camera that discreetly captures photos or video, or turn on audio recording. The device could also act as a beacon, alerting other devices to its location and status.
If a hiker falls and requires assistance, the mobile device may be activated into the panic mode to activate a distress call or act as a beacon to alert emergency response providers (e.g. police, fire department, medical responders, etc.). In these examples, the beacon operation can function in coordination with the audio, photo, or video recording and/or transmission, providing as much information as is available to emergency responders.
The patent entitled, "FINGERPRINT ACTIVATION OF A PANIC MODE OF OPERATION FOR A MOBILE DEVICE" was filed May 5, 2014 and published today.
Read More [via BI]