It’s getting pretty warm again (did it ever stop?) in South Florida, so today when I had the misfortune of being outdoors, I got to wondering why with all the sensors found in most modern smartphones, they don’t usually include a thermometer.
It’s common to find sensors for orientation, screen contact/pressure, video, sound and even location. However, for some reason, the task of telling me about the climate surrounding me gets outsourced to a third‐party that is somewhere completely different.
Just think about that for a second.
What we’re missing is the ability to know the actual conditions we’re experiencing. If one happens to be indoors, in the shade, or somewhere else entirely, all they’ll get from their phone is the typical outdoor temperature for their general area. Even if they happen to be inside of, and get reception in, a walk‐in freezer. (“It’s certainly not 90° F in here…”)
On the other hand, I can think of reasons why our phones tend not to handle their own temperature readings. Wireless carriers obviously prefer that customers pay for data plans to use as many phone features as possible. There’s also the matter of expectations: nobody (but me!) seems to demand the feature, so why include it, even if the hardware couldn’t be all that pricey?
But most importantly, the sensor would likely be unduly influenced by the temperature of our hand, the atmospheric conditions in our pocket, the heat generated by the phone itself, and so on. Heck, I distinctly remember how wildly inaccurate my circa‐mid‐90s Casio G‐Shock thermometer watch (same model pictured at right) was.
But gosh, was it ever entertaining to watch that dial spin! I also used to watch that bar graph scroll through the last few hours of recorded temperatures and pretend I was in a boat watching waves go by. Ah, childhood…
I can’t quite place my finger on what I would do with the ability to keep a reading of my own surroundings’ temperature over time… but I know I want it.