Nokia Phone will Detect Lightning

By John Blau, IDG News Service | 

If you thought developers were running out of new applications to squeeze into mobile phones, think again. Nokia Corp. hopes someday to add a new feature to its phones that could warn users of imminent lighting strikes.

The Finnish manufacturer has applied for a U.S. patent for a lightning detector system designed for use in mobile phones.

The lightning detector could attract all types of mobile phone users, including the elderly and outdoor enthusiasts, who seek useful safety devices.

The invention involves the use of radio frequency receivers in mobile phones, such as FM radio and GSM (global system for mobile communications), to detect radio waves emitted by lightning. Typical lightning bolts produce frequencies between 10 Hz and 5 GHz.

A special software program designed by Nokia analyzes the signals, calculates the distance to the lightning and informs users of imminent strikes.

Although a Nokia spokeswoman declined to comment on the invention, details are available in the company's patent application.