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Thread: iPhone and Water Faucets

  1. #1
    Default iPhone and Water Faucets
    A friend of mine, who has a 3G, just sent me this. Any guesses on what is triggering this? Would it be the heat from the phone or something else?

    "I just found something new that my iPhone can do….apparently it can trigger our automatic faucets in the men's bathroom. If I set the phone down on the counter, the faucets all start running. Hysterical!"

  2. #2
    iPhoneaholic tyfly867's Avatar
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    The iphone has a ton of wireless frequencies it sends out (quadband-edge and 3g, 802.11b/g, gps, bluetooth). But none of that should interfere with the frequency of the infared facets.

    Maybe it could be the heat as heat (aka energy) gives off it's own wavelengths.

  3. #3
    That doesn't seem cool at all. If anything, you run the risk of getting the phone wet.

  4. #4
    Hi nice post.
    Foreclosed Homes

  5. #5
    I posted this same question on another forum and got a great answer. Just in case you were curious...Thanks to Kyek for the explanation!

    There are mainly two kinds of sensors used in applications like that -- one is a visible light spectrum photosensor that activates whenever the amount of light hitting the sensor goes down. The second is an infrared sensor -- this one's a two-parter. One part of the sensor is simply an infrared light that shoots out from the unit, and the other part is an infrared photosensor. When you put your hands up to it, the infrared light is reflected back at the sensor, and it triggers.

    Obviously the iPhone isn't capable of triggering either one of these -- but the big possibility is wireless interference. Ever have your phone sitting next to a speaker and it makes the speaker buzz and squeal a bit just before you get a call? The reason for that is that the phone is broadcasting an electromagnetic wave -- it's causing the electrons flowing along the speaker wire to rapidly move back and forth, just like how an antenna would work. The cell frequency just happens to fall in the range where not only can it have an effect on the wire, it falls within audible range.

    The same thing is what's happening here. Most likely, the faucets in this bathroom in question have the first kind of sensor -- the visible light photosensor. These sensors are a normally open switch, meaning that when the faucet is off, the sensor is sending a steady signal to the controller. When that signal gets interrupted (like from a lack of light) the controller turns the faucet on. It looks like what's happening is that the 3G signal is producing an electromagnetic wave of the right frequency to bounce electrons back and forth across the circuit from the sensor to the controller, interrupting that constant signal and turning the faucet on.

    There are a few other explanations, but they're all very similar smile.gif You can disable most anything as long as you have a strong enough EM wave at the right frequency. That's why the more expensive cables you can get are shielded -- they don't allow waves to alter the current of the wire, so the data transfer stays clean. This should also give you an idea of how EMPs (Electromagnetic Pulses) work.. something you've probably seen in things like The Matrix or Dark Angel or Stargate SG-1. Exact same thing, just powerful enough to send too many electrons back the wrong direction through diodes and resistors, causing them to fry.

    Kinda scary to think your phone's capable of that, on a small scale ;-)

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