Samsung is known for its experimental patents. The Korean giant has filed patents for foldable smartphones, multi-device wireless charging, smartwatch-on-phone wireless charging, smartwatches with optical zoom cameras, and magnetic VR hand controllers for Gear VR. The most famous Android OEM isn't afraid to take chances and think outside the box: after all, it just "unboxed" the smartphone with the arrival of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ earlier this Spring.
The company who owns tech's biggest heartbeat has had another experimental patent published, one that adds to the capabilities of the already more-than-capable Galaxy Note series with the inclusion of a mic that could also double as a breathalyzer.
The newly published patent, originally filed in June 2016, would come with a microphone on the S Pen that would allow users to breathe into it in order to check their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. The mic (called a "gas sensor") could also be used for other things, such as to record audio messages and save them to the Galaxy Note's Voice Recorder app or conduct audio phone calls with the S Pen alone. The S Pen sets the Galaxy Note series apart from all other high-end mobile smartphones on the market, as it allows you to draw, take notes, "Magnify" webpages, translate terms in non-native languages, create GIFs, and even write with the screen off (Screen-Off Memo, introduced in the Galaxy Note 5).
As can be seen from the first image above, there would be a bending portion to the stylus, with a gas sensor at some distance from the bending area. Figures 13 and 14 show how the user would interact with the gas sensor (close to his or her lips), which could increase phone call quality, as is the case with Figure 14. Even with extra call volume functions in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, all sorts of background interruptions and call static impact the quality of an audio call. Finally, in Figure 16, the recorded breath activity is registered on a printout.
This could hint that, like the fingerprint scanner that records fingerprints, the breathalyzer could record breathing activity for not only drinking drivers but also heart patients. Patients who struggle with oxygen troubles already rely on the Galaxy series' heart rate monitor for their oxygen rate; adding the ability to record breathing levels and monitor breathing performance could have implications for at-home medical treatment. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ have an online doctor app that puts users in touch with medical doctors; perhaps the new gas sensor could help users provide oxygen levels for in-app doctors' appointments in the event of a medical emergency.
This gas sensor patent has implications for future Galaxy Note devices, though we'd like to have seen these S Pen capabilities added to the series in the Galaxy Note 8; they would have been a bit more exciting than the full sentence translation and currency conversion features rumored for the upcoming Note, which seem to be more iterative than innovative.
Samsung, we're thinking these features would be perfect for the Galaxy Note 9 in 2018.