Women, children, millionaires and just about anyone worried about being assaulted or kidnapped should be interested in a mobile phone emergency feature being developed by Nokia.
The Finnish manufacturer is seeking a patent in the US for a mobile phone capable of sending a covert emergency message, complete with pictures, sound and location.
Nokia isn't saying much about the application, which the company silently made at the end of last year. Maybe the Finns know they're onto a hot idea, or maybe they just don't want criminals to know too much about their ingenious plan.
"The patent application doesn't mean that we're necessarily planning to install this emergency feature in any of our phones in the future," said Nokia spokesman Damian Stathonikos. "We're constantly developing new technologies in our research labs and applying for patents to protect our intellectual property rights."
One of the phones for which Nokia is seeking a patent would be equipped with two buttons, one on each side of the handset. By pressing the buttons simultaneously for a predetermined amount of time, users would speed-dial an emergency number and begin recording and sending sounds and snapshots or even video clips to a trusted centre.
If equipped with GPS technology, the phone would also provide location information.
And that's not all. Additional features include the ability to store images and video in the phone's memory should transmission be temporarily lost, then automatically transmit this data once a signal is picked up; and transmission can be discreet to prevent an abductor from knowing that an emergency message has been sent.
Once users initiate an emergency call, they can only halt it by entering a personal code.
The patent application can be viewed on the website of the US Patent & Trademark Office.