Microsoft Patents Technology To Let Phone Silence Itself

Microsoft has patented a technology that would allow a mobile device to place itself in a stealth mode when it senses things like lights going out in a movie theater.

The technology, called “Inconspicuous Mode,” would be a setting on a smartphone that, according to the patent, adjusts the visual and audio levels based on GPS information an one or more environmental criterion, reports Info World.

The environmental factors could be anything that the device can pick up via its camera lens and microphone. For example, if the phone knew through GPS data that it was at a theater and it “sees” the lights go down through its camera, it would be able to switch into Inconspicuous Mode and adjust audio and visual output to match its environment.

The audio level change is a given: the phone would go into silent mode to prevent the whole audience from hearing your ringtone. The visual level change would mean that the screen’s brightness would decrease and fewer messages would flash across the screen when alerts arrive.

The technology is certainly interesting, ZDNet notes, because the patent by Microsoft allows the mode to be activated either manually or through sensor use. Microsoft stated of the new technology:

“Mobile communication devices are increasingly important and are in common use in many environments. Accordingly, individuals often keep them on their person throughout large portions of the day. One problem with the ubiquity of these devices in so many different environments is that their use in not appropriate in all settings.”

If the patent is accepted, Microsoft would be able to develop an entirely new kind of mode, besides ringer, vibrate, and silent, that would help a smartphone user be more inconspicuous and avoid annoying neighboring viewers with flashing lights and keypad sounds.

As with many patents, it is not known if the technology will ever actually be implemented, though we’d be interested in trying it out if it ever does become available.