The recent iFixit teardown of the Google Pixel 8 Pro revealed an interesting surprise – the phone contains a previously undisclosed temperature sensor. However, Google has intentionally locked down access to prevent third-party use until the feature is ready.
Developer examination of the software shows the temperature data permission is restricted only to pre-installed or Google-signed apps. This prevents arbitrary apps from taking advantage of the sensor.
Decompiling the preloaded Thermometer app exposes code to read different object types like human forehead, ambient air, liquids, and more. Each has predefined emissivity values for accurate temperature measurement. However, attempting to recompile the app results in lost ability to access the sensor data.
Google is clearly taking a very deliberate approach to enable the temperature sensing hardware. Tight permission control aims to prevent misuse or publication of inaccurate readings before thorough testing and calibration is complete.
The sensor documentation suggests potential applications like detecting human body temperature and camera overheating events. But Google seems intent on securing FDA approval first before allowing open access.
Given the liability and privacy aspects of health-related sensor data, Google’s conservative rollout approach makes sense to ensure accuracy, security and regulatory compliance. Rushing to activate an unproven biometric sensor in software could be problematic.
While the dormant temperature sensor tantalizes developers and users eager for new smartphone experiences, Google’s patience demonstrates wisdom. Rigorous testing and calibration is vital for medical use legitimacy.
For now, the sensor lies inactive unless Google decides to flip the switch after adequate preparation. But the hardware foundation being in place indicates promising future potential once validated for consumer medical apps. Google is playing the long game to do it right.