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Mobile phones could soon protect themselves against pickpockets by detecting thieves and vibrating rapidly so the device is too 'slippery' to be picked up Update: 20-06-2019
Mobile phones could soon protect themselves against pickpockets by detecting thieves and vibrating rapidly so they can't get a grip on the device.

The new technology, created by Ericsson, will be able to tell if someone other than the owner is attempting to pick it up using just their heartbeat.

If an unauthorised user is detected, the phone will enter 'lo-friction mode', making the phone more 'slippery' and difficult to pick up.

The Swedish company explained in their patent application: 'In this mode, the unauthorised user would have a more difficult time gripping the device.' 

The same technology, dubbed 'adaptive friction', will also help stop users from dropping their expensive phones and smashing the screens.

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Mobile phones could soon protect themselves against pickpockets by detecting thieves and vibrating rapidly so they can't get a grip on the device. Pictured: a diagram from Ericsson's patent application showing a user grabbing a mobile phone from a pocket containing other items such as credit cards or receipts


According to Ericsson's patent, the phone will use a number of different sensors including one that works out where it is being gripped, one for user identification to stop thieves, and one for environmental context to work out where the phone is being kept (such as in a bag, or a pocket).

The phone may then be pre-programmed to enter different modes, detailed in the patent as 'transition away from storage', 'in use', and 'transition to storage'. It will automatically adjust the friction on the device, or in parts of the device being gripped, accordingly. This will make it less likely to drop the phone, and easier to place inside or take out of pockets and bags.

The company said: 'The increased or maximised level of friction in this "high-friction mode" may make it easier for the user to grip the housing of device with his/her fingers without inadvertently dropping the device.' 

Ericsson also hopes the phone will be able to detect where the phone is - for example, in a hand, or in a pocket - and adjust how much friction is applied.

It may also be able to sense if someone is picking the phone up or putting it down, before making it easier to do so.

By adjusting the friction, Ericsson say users will also not have to worry about accidentally pulling other items such as receipts and credit cards out of their pocket at the same time.

The patent explains that the company decided to explore this technology in response to phones becoming thinner and smaller, making them difficult to grip. 

A patent, filed by Swedish phone company Ericsson, reveals that they hope the technology will also help users stop dropping their devices by increasing friction (file photo) 

A number of sensors may be used in the device including biometric, fingerprint and optical for identification, and accelerator and light so the phone can work out where it is being kept or held.

It is not known when the technology could be available, but the patent was filed in February this year. 

Many people will be hoping it will be sooner rather than later, with 446,000 mobiles stolen in the UK alone in 2016.

In the U.S., that figure is even higher, with 3.1million people falling victim in 2013.

The most popular phone for light-fingered pickpockets were iPhones, but Samsung devices are also likely to be nabbed. 

People living in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire should also watch out as they experienced the highest levels of stolen devices. 

Via Daily Mail


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