Every year in the United States, about 3,500 Americans die in fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Household smoke alarms can help save lives, and a new iPhone dock design could work as a secondary detector in your bedroom.
Seattle-based Tonic Product Design created an iPhone dock and accompanying app that can warn you while you’re sleeping when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected. It’s still a prototype design right now, but the Sense+ dock includes a built-in photoelectric smoke detector and carbon monoxide gas detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can be deadly
If the Sense+ dock detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it sounds an alert and opens the companion Sense+ app on the connected iPhone. If there’s no response, the app can call preset numbers. The app can also auto-dial or prompt you to call emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
Right now, the Sense+ prototype can only dock and charge an iPhone 5 via lightning connection. But the creators — product designers Will Grant and Michael Charles — say future versions for Android and Windows phones are planned. The dock is powered multiple ways: by plugging it into main power, from the docked iPhone or from a built-in backup battery.
Grant and Charles are trying to raise $150,000 on Indiegogo to further develop Sense+. With 43 days still left to go in the campaign, supporters had pledged about $900, as of Tuesday afternoon. Supporters can get early-bird specials on the dock for $79, with expected delivery in November.
It’s important to note that the design is not foolproof and is not a substitute for traditional smoke alarms. SensePlus clearly warns: “Ceiling mounted smoke alarms are still recognized as the preferred response alarm. As such the Sense+ is intended as an additional safety system for fixed in home ceiling mounted smoke alarms.”
Additionally, gadgets can sometimes be the culprits themselves, leading to further reason to ensure smoke alarms are up to date: In 2012, a Colorado woman said her iPhone 4, plugged into an Apple charger, burst into flames on the nightstand, while she was sleeping at a hotel. However, this may simply have been an isolated incident.
Note: If your home’s smoke alarms were installed more than 10 years ago (before July 2, 2003), the U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing them.