First discovered by a Reddit user, this new feature could significantly benefit users who are hard of hearing. The iPhone can be scheduled to constantly listen for 14 various sounds, such as a door knock, doorbell, sirens, smoke detector alarms, dog barking, a crying baby, and so on. The function can be found in the ‘Accessibility’ section of iOS 14’s settings menu.
Other tech giants, such as Amazon and Google, have utilized AI-based sound recognition as a ‘personal safety measure.’ For instance, you can set Echo speakers to identify the sound of alarms or broken glass as part of Amazon’s Alexa Guard home security system. Google uses the microphone on its Pixel devices as part of its car crash-detection functionality as well.
iOS 14 comes with support for Sound Recognition in Accessibility. Your phone can now listen for specific sounds – a baby crying, smoke alarm, water running, etc. – and notify you.
— Federico Viticci (@viticci) June 23, 2020
At the moment, Apple seems to be focused on employing sound recognition for daily accessibility purposes, and the tech company warned users against completely depending on it for staying safe. The setting screen of the function reads: ‘Sound Recognition should not be relied upon on in circumstances where you may be harmed or injured, in high-risk or emergency situations, or for navigation.’
Here is a sound detection demonstration, courtesy of the Reddit user who first spotted it:
Even though this is an iOS-friendly function, for now, it is one that could also be employed on the HomePod, a smart speaker created to be placed at home. Other AI startups, such as Sensory AI, offer the sound detection function as well, created around the idea of providing more security.
Again, Apple says its sound detection feature is an accessibility function only. Still, if it’s effective, the tech giant may make it a more advertised home security functionality.