We mostly know carbon monoxide detectors as annoying devices that eat batteries, but the truth is that they’re around for a reason. Carbon monoxide is impossible to detect without some sort of chemical detector sampling the air, and if it collects long enough, it can potentially be fatal. So this iPhone case is designed to save your life.
It’s a brilliant idea. As the case’s designer, David Tyers, points out, most people have their smartphone with them at all times and use it for functions like an alarm clock or a personal web device at hotels, other people’s houses, and other places that might not necessarily have carbon monoxide or even working smoke detectors.
As designed, the case can alert you by vibrating, giving off a visual cue, offering the standard shrill noise we all know and loathe, or even use the phone to dial emergency numbers. Tyers explains he was motivated by a real life event where an entire family, including five children, fell ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and thankfully got out in time.
We do have a few concerns, though, the most basic being this: We’ve all had these detectors in our homes, and we’ve all had them freak out due to false positives. What happens when this case gets a false positive, and immediately dials 911, or your family? We can see this causing a few freakouts and possibly landing the case user a ticket or even an overnight stay at the local jail, considering the false alarm laws on the books across the country.
That said, though, it’s still a good idea, and it never hurts to add extra sensors to your phone. Besides, the prospect of paying a $50 ticket is a lot better than dying thanks to some crappy hotel not being up to code.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.