5 Specialized Mobile Hardware Features You Can Only Get from Custom Devices

Today, even relatively basic off-the-shelf mobile devices can do some impressive things, like check whether a surface is level and record (albeit imperfectly) the ambient temperature of a room. Just twenty years ago, phones or tablets that offered these sorts of features would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction.

Yet despite these advancements, there remain a number of things that off-the-shelf mobile devices can’t do, simply because they lack the requisite hardware.

The hardware to enable advanced features exists in many cases, but it doesn’t come standard on generic mobile devices. It can, however, be integrated into custom devices.

To showcase the types of advanced functionality that custom mobile hardware can provide, here’s a look at five cool features that the smartphone in your pocket probably doesn’t support, but a purpose-built device can.

1. High-Accuracy Temperature Readers

As noted above, standard phones can usually provide an estimate of ambient temperature. But these readings aren’t typically highly accurate. Devices take them using built-in sensors that are designed to track the temperature of internal components to prevent issues like overheating, not to tell users how warm their bedroom or forehead is.

If you need to take highly accurate and precise temperature measurements from your phone or tablet, then, you’ll need a custom mobile device that offers sensors designed for this purpose. 

Of course, you could also just use a standard thermometer to take temperature readings. But the advantage of getting accurate readings from a mobile device is that it is much easier to log and share temperature data using mobile apps than it would be to transfer the data manually from a standalone thermometer into a digital system.

2. Humidity Detectors

Speaking of temperature, humidity plays a significant role in how humans experience different temperature points. A room that is 70 degrees could feel very comfortable or very stuffy depending on how humid the air is.

Despite this, collecting data about humidity levels traditionally required specialized hardware, which was not usually mobile. That made it difficult to monitor humidity levels – as you might want to do if, for example, you are an HVAC technician who wants to figure out whether to add a dehumidifier to a heating system.

With custom mobile devices that offer built-in humidity sensors, however, anyone can detect humidity levels on-the-go. These sensors exist, but they are not standard features on off-the-shelf mobile phones.

3. Blood Sugar Readers

For the more than 100 million Americans who are diabetic or prediabetic, being able to check blood glucose levels from a mobile phone could be very valuable. It would enable more convenient testing than conventional at-home blood sugar test kits can provide. It would also allow healthcare professionals to monitor the results automatically through mobile apps.

Glucose readers are not standard hardware on any off-the-shelf mobile devices, of course. But they can be built into custom devices.

4. Scent Sensors

Can your smartphone smell? Not if you have a standard device.

Yet sensors that allow smartphones to collect scent data exist, and they hold great promise for a variety of use cases, from helping to detect smoke or gas leaks to assessing food quality. All it takes to enable use cases like these is a custom mobile device with the necessary scent hardware.

5. Fall Detection Sensors

Fall detection sensors, which can help alert caretakers when someone falls, have been around for a long time. But they have traditionally taken the form of specialized pendants or similar devices that lack full Internet connectivity or the ability to run generic software. And while mobile vendors like Apple are now experimenting with fall detection features in off-the-shelf consumer devices, such as the Apple Watch, developers who want to take advantage of such features are limited to the hardware specifications of the devices, which they don’t control.

What if you could build a fall detection sensor with hardware tailored to your specific use case? And what if the device also had full access to the Internet, as well as to all of the apps and libraries available in an operating system like Android? With custom mobile hardware, you can. Custom devices open a whole new range of opportunities for creating powerful fall detection sensors that can do exactly what businesses need them to do, without having to work within the constraints of third-party hardware.

Conclusion: Custom Mobile Hardware Opens New Frontiers

Mobile hardware has come far since the days of carphones. Yet even the smartest off-the-shelf smartphones can only do so much with the hardware that’s built into them.

With the help of custom mobile hardware, however, businesses can take advantage of a broad selection of hardware sensors and simulators that open the door to advanced use cases. You shouldn’t expect specialized mobile hardware features like those highlighted above to come to an off-the-shelf device anytime soon, but you can start designing custom devices that incorporate them today.