American Inventor

A truly life saving invention from Apple – Method and system for prolonging emergency calls (US8270935)

A truly life saving invention from Apple – Method and system for prolonging emergency calls (US8270935)

Imagine yourself driving to work and spotting a severely injured person on the way. Sensing the criticality, you immediately call emergency service and rush towards the injured person. Holding the phone in between your ear and shoulder, you reach out to help with both hands, while you explain the situation to the officer on the other end of the call. In such a panic ridden state, the last thing you want is for the call to get disconnected by inadvertently pressing the disconnect button. Rest assured, the invention in this patent will save you from the distress of having to re-dial the emergency service.

The patent describes several solutions that ensure that an emergency call would continue to be maintained for as long as possible without being disconnected due to various reasons such as inadvertently pressing the disconnect button or running out of battery power. For e.g. while there is an emergency call going on, the invention may reduce the power to the display device or completely turn off power to some non-essential parts of the phone, thus preserving the amount of energy in the battery.

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But to understand what exactly is protected by this patent, let’s look at claim 1 of the patent which reads:

A method for processing a phone call, comprising: connecting the phone call from a mobile phone; determining whether the phone call is an emergency call; and if the phone call is an emergency call, activating an emergency mode of the mobile phone to handle the phone call, wherein the emergency mode prolongs the length of the phone call, and wherein prolonging the length of the phone call comprises, if a user presses a button to disconnect the emergency call: querying the user for confirmation before disconnecting the phone call, wherein the confirmation comprises a code, a password, or a verbal acknowledgement.

Simply put, the above claim describes the feature in which once an emergency call is made, disconnecting the emergency call would require a confirmation from the user in addition to the action (e.g. pressing disconnect button) expressing intention to disconnect the emergency call. So for example, when an emergency call is going on, even if the user accidentally presses the disconnect button, the emergency call will be maintained and the user will be prompted to confirm whether the emergency call needs to be disconnected. Only when the user responds by entering a predetermined code or making a vocal utterance (e.g. saying YES), the emergency call would be disconnected.

Further, it is important to note that, as per this claim, the confirmation is provided by the user only in the form a code, a password, or a verbal acknowledgement. If a product implementing a similar feature receives confirmation from the user by way of a single key press (e.g. YES button), the product may not fall under the scope of this patent. Although this aspect of receiving confirmation through a single key press is described in the patent, it does not appear in the claim.

 However, to provide a robust barrier for inadvertent disconnection, most practical implementations would require either a pass-code or a speech utterance. Thus, any product that wishes to implement the feature of avoiding inadvertent disconnection of emergency calls would most likely fall prey to the fangs of this claim. So beware!


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