Apple has patented an ultrasonic temperature sensor capable of measuring the ambient temperature around devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch. This innovative sensor could provide users with more accurate real-time temperature data.
As described in the newly published patent filing, Apple notes how current temperature information from online sources doesn’t always reflect the true conditions of a user’s precise location. Factors like shade, sun exposure, and different surfaces can alter the perceived temperature.
To address this issue, Apple proposes embedding an ultrasonic temperature sensor directly into devices like the Apple Watch and iPhone. This sensor would calculate temperature by measuring the speed of sound propagation through the surrounding air or media.
Because ultrasonic waves travel through air and other materials at a rate dependent on temperature, the sensor can derive a highly accurate ambient temperature reading. The sensor itself can be installed in a groove or aperture on the device housing and covered by a mesh or grille.
Apple’s diagrams show the sensor integrated into the side of an Apple Watch. It would likely be similarly positioned on an iPhone for optimal exposure. The sensor contains ultrasonic transmitters and receivers to send and receive the sound waves.
By providing reliable on-device temperature measurement, this new ultrasonic sensor could enhance weather tracking, fitness metrics, environmental context and more. It builds on Apple’s focus on sensor-driven intelligence across its products.
The ability to discretely measure true ambient temperature could also enable new health tracking features beyond what the current Apple Watch temperature sensor provides today.
While just a patent for now, Apple’s ultrasonic temperature sensor concept highlights the company’s innovative approach to bolstering real-world awareness and utility on devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch. If introduced, it would bring more accurate and localized temperature data directly to users’ fingertips.