Future Samsung phones could include a built-in breathalyzer

Samsung may have just come up with the most useful new smartphone feature yet. While its Galaxy Note line of phones includes a stylus, a recently published patent filing shows Samsung could be working on a stylus-type device that also acts as a mic—and as a breathalyzer.

The patent, titled “Portable Device Having Exhalation Sensing Function,” describes a mobile device with a built-in gas detector. When you make a call with the device, the gas detector extends outward. Then, it can automatically sense your breath as you exhale.

Samsung exhalation sensing device patent Image via Free Patents Online

The idea of a portable breathalyzer isn’t new. There are a number of portable breathalyzers available today. There are even models that work with your iOS or Android phone. The problem with these, though, is it’s still one more device to carry in your purse or pocket.

Samsung’s solution is more convenient, and also more subtle. It will automatically sense your exhalation when you make a phone call, which is key, according to Samsung’s patent description. If the device does monitor blood alcohol levels, it could alert you that you’re more inebriated than you thought—and not just when you choose to test your BAC. This could help prompt you to leave your car after that post-work happy hour and take a Lyft home instead.

Samsung device with gas sensor Image via Free Patents Online

In its patent, Samsung never specifically says its mobile device would sense alcohol on your breath—it’s just a “gas sensor.” So it’s possible that it could sense a range of other issues. Breath sensing can be used to detect some forms of cancer, Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, for example. It can also detect respiratory diseases, and heck, perhaps even social nemesis halitosis. Imagine knowing definitely that your breath doesn’t stink before approaching a date—that would be amazing.

As Patently Apple points out, the way Samsung implements this breath-sensing microphone is a lot like its Galaxy Note series’ S-Pen styluses. Perhaps we’ll see this breath sensor in a Samsung phone a few years from now.

H/T Patently Apple

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.