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Microsoft Patents Intelligent System For Silencing Phones

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A new patent from Microsoft details a way for phones to sense when and where they should enable a silent mode according to an InfoWorld report.

The new patent will let smartphones turn on a silent mode, which the patent calls “Inconspicuous Mode” based on GPS coordinates and the surrounding environment. The patent will let the smartphone use light sensors and microphone as well to determine if it should enable Inconspicuous Mode.

The easiest example is the phone can see that it’s in a movie theater based on GPS coordinates, and it can enable Inconspicuous Mode when the lights go down. The mode doesn’t just silencr the phone, however.

Microsoft’s patent can also adjust the backlight of the phone when in Inconspicuous Mode. Fewer notifications will appear on screen as well, or they won’t show the full notification. For example, a new text message will only show an icon and the number of messages instead of the first line of the message when in Inconspicuous Mode.

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The new patent sounds a lot like an automatic Do Not Disturb. Recent Motorola smartphones can perform similar functions, but only after the user sets them up via Smart Actions. The method described in the patent would work with minimal effort on the user’s end.

There’s no hint that Microsoft will implement its new Inconspicuous Mode in future versions of Windows Phone, but it is a possibility. Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google have a lot of patents for technology they never include in final products. This new patent could be an example of that.

Apple recently patented its own technology for silencing phones based on the surrounding areas. Apple’s patent, however, focused more on keeping the vibrator quiet when the situation calls for it based on noise in the surrounding areas.

Shawn is a tech junkie who spends most of his time reading and writing about it. You can follow him on Twitter, @shawn_i.

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