Ericsson invents smartphone impossible to steal

Swedish company has come up with a system that could prevent smartphone theft. It analyzes the way we touch the device and recognizes foreign hands

With the price of smartphones, especially for top-of-the-line devices, showing no signs of going down, smartphone theft is increasingly a profitable event for the thief and dramatic for the rightful owner. Several cell phone manufacturers, since a few years, have developed and integrated in their devices different solutions useful to block the use of the cell phone in case of theft. iPhones even have a feature that lets you know where the stolen device is.

But all these tricks do nothing more than dissuade the thief from stealing, without physically preventing him from taking our phone home. In the future, however, things could change thanks to a recent Ericsson patent that could lead, one day, to create the smartphone impossible to steal. The interesting thing is that the technology needed to implement the new anti-theft features thought by Ericsson is already all available and, very often, integrated into smartphones. Certainly in the top of the range, already today. What is it? Ericsson calls this anti-theft feature "Adaptive Friction".

How the Adaptive Friction anti-theft feature works

A large part of the invention lies in applying a fair amount of artificial intelligence to the data collected by sensors already on smartphones: microphone and camera, accelerometer, gyroscope and so on. All of these sensors can help Ericsson's software figure out if the smartphone is on a table, in a pocket, in a bag, and recognize the owner's touch. When the smartphone is able to recognize "how we touch it" (e.g. by measuring how fast we pick it up, noticing if we make repetitive gestures when we pick it up, and so on) it can automatically recognize the stranger's touch as well. And if it notices that something is wrong, the burglar alarm is triggered: the phone vibrates at a very high frequency, so much so that it becomes impossible to hold it in your hand.

Will it work?

It should be noted that at the moment, there is only one patent: no device from Ericsson or other manufacturers integrates Adaptive Friction. But there is also to say that the implementation of this feature raises many doubts. The first is the fact that, if the cell phone vibrates and the thief cannot hold it, it is very likely that it will end up falling to the ground with the related consequences. Not having a cell phone stolen but finding it half destroyed is not the best. Then we have to understand how much Adaptive Friction will affect the battery consumption: monitoring H24 all the data coming from the sensors, in order to have a real time response in case of theft, could leave us without charge already in the middle of the day.