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The iPhone dock that doubles as a smoke alarm and automatically makes emergency calls

Designers in Seattle have invented an iPhone docking station that doubles up as a smoke and gas alarm - and they claim it can be more effective than the traditional ceiling-mounted alarms.

The Sense+ dock has built-in sensors that detect smoke from fires as well as carbon monoxide.

When these sensors detect the life-threatening gases an app is launched on the docked iPhone and a loud alarm will ring.

Designers in Seattle have invented the Sense+ iPhone docking station, pictured, that doubles up as a smoke and gas alarm.

If this alarm is not manually turned off within 30 seconds, a list of emergency phone numbers is displayed on the iPhone's screen before the system begins automatically calling these numbers for help.

The user can also shut down the app or decline from making emergency calls.

These emergency numbers can be customised and the app will only call the numbers added to the Home Group - it can't access the user's phone book.

The Sense+ uses a 'photoelectric' sensor that can detect cold smoke which some traditional smoke alarms have difficulty sensing.

This is combined with a carbon monoxide sensor.

The designers claim that in certain situations the Sense+ could be more effective at alerting the user to a fire or dangerous gases than wall and ceiling-mounted sensors.

However, instead of replacing them, the inventors designed the Sense+ to work with the existing alarms to increase protection. 

The majority of ceiling-mounted smoke detectors rely on ionisation smoke detection and respond more effectively to smoke caused by flaming fires.

The Sense+ uses a 'photoelectric' sensor that can detect cold smoke that some traditional smoke alarms have difficulty sensing.

The Sense+'s photoelectric smoke sensor is more effective at detecting smouldering fires.

This photoelectric alarm aims a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor.

When smoke enters the chamber it reflects light onto the light sensor and this triggers the alarm.

The Sense+ device is designed by company Studio Tonic based in Seattle and costs £65.

The design team developed the Sense+ after looking at deaths caused by smoke inhalation in houses in developing countries.

They discovered that many of these households did not have smoke alarms yet they did have the latest smartphones.

This led them to create the Sense+ as a flexible personal alarm that works as a backup detector and a device that helps quickly when needed.

The current version has been designed specifically for the iPhone 5 yet it also supports the connection of other smart devices through a USB port.

The makers also have future versions planned for Android and Windows smartphones.

Will Grant, spokesman for Sense+, said: 'Sense+ is an emergency aid solution consisting of an app and a charging dock.

'It uses the latest smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to detect cold smoke and automatically take action for you in case of an alarm.

'The thinking behind it was to potentially save lives.

'It uses photoelectric technology smoke sensors because it is best for detecting smoke which is the major killer in house fires.

'It also uses carbon monoxide detectors. As invisible, odorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas that can kill quickly and without warning.

'The combination of the two detectors is very powerful especially in situations like caravanning, boating, camping, and travelling.

'We tested the Sense+ against a group of off-the-shelf ceiling type sensors and with the smoke testing the Sense+ always outperformed the photo voltaic models.

'But when the Sense+ was at bedside height, the off-the-shelf models at ceiling height went off quicker.'  

2013-07-12, The Daily Mail, Victoria Woollaston.


Keywords: gadgets, safety and security, iPhone, emergency situations

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