Apple patents spy device to check for product misuse

Apple are unhappy with the way people treat their works of art, their iPhone and iPods. They're not sure why they should supply people with replacements these amazing gadgets are getting abused.

Apple are unhappy with the way people treat their works of art, their iPhone and iPods. They're not sure why they should supply people with replacements these amazing gadgets are getting abused.

So today the firm has filed a patent on a kind of spy system that sits inside gadgets to record "consumer abuse events" and reveal them to Apple staff when you ask for a replacement.

"Often, particularly at a point of sale, personnel receiving the returned device may be unqualified or untrained to determine whether or not a device has failed due to manufacturing defects or due to consumer abuse," the company explains in US patent application 20090195394.

Apple's plan is to use sensors that can detect liquid exposure, high temperatures, high g-force shocks, and the opening of the sealed casing for the "adding, removing, or altering of the internal components".

The filing comes as Apple is taking some flack for alleged overheating of some models of the iPhone 3GS. The firm has countered that the machines have probably been operated in hot conditions beyond its design capability; perhaps after being left on a car dashboard in the sun. The technology in this patent could help it support that case.

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