An anonymous post popped up on the “Secret” social network recently, making the claim that a future version of the Apple EarPods will have integrated heart rate and blood pressure sensors. But it looks like this wild claim might actually have a bit of substance, as previously patented Apple research shows that this the Cupertino corporation is actually working on similar technology.
The anonymous posts, as seen on Secret:
Apple’s new EarPods will have sensors in them, for heart rate & blood pressure. Also iBeacons so they don’t get lost. They will require the lightning port, it’s why the audio jack was moved to the bottom. [...]
It stores the data in a similar way to thumbprint point data, fully encrypted and nothing identifiable. But nice to send to your doctor to keep track of at which point your blood pressure started rising for example. [...]
Redesigned remote too. Extra mic for better noise canceling.
Secret is a completely anonymous platform, which means that there is absolutely no way of distinguishing between rumors that do and do not hold weight. Many tech-related stories have broken on Secret, however, and turned out to be completely legitimate leaks (as TechCrunch recently showed us). It would be pretty easy to dismiss this rumor being shared by someone supposedly fired by Apple recently, but seeing that many anonymous tipsters have been proven reliable, it’s worth looking into this a bit more.
As MacRumors points out, a patent filed in March 2007 covers sensors embedded within various accessories — or maybe even a complete device like the iPhone — to collect physiological data. Most interesting is that this patent in particular included a picture that looks a lot like an ear accessory (as seen above)…
The present invention can include systems and methods for integrating sensors for tracking a user’s performance metrics into electronic devices and accessories therefor. In one embodiment of the present invention, the electronic devices can include portable media devices similar to iPods sold by Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. or cellular telephones similar to iPhones designed by Apple Inc.
In one embodiment, the present invention can include headsets having one or more integrated physiological sensors. The headsets can be, for example, headphones for receiving audio signals from a media device or headsets for communication with cellular telephones. The sensor signals can be transmitted to a data repository through the same communication channel through which audio signals are transmitted to the headset (e.g., hard-wired or wireless).
Also described in the patent is an iPod or iPhone-paired “sling” armband-like device for monitoring things like blood pressure and heart rate.
Another patent, which was filed in August of 2008 and only granted this past February, more directly documents a headphone-based physiological monitoring invention.
The invention pertains to a monitoring system that can be placed proximate to the head or ear of a user. According to one embodiment, the monitoring system can be used with a hearing device, headphones, earbuds or headsets. The monitoring system can, for example, be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities. The positioning of the monitoring system can also facilitate sensing of other user characteristics (e.g., biometric data), such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate.
Advantageously, the invention can provide monitoring capabilities within a hearing device. Assuming the user is otherwise using the hearing device, such as to provide audio output by a portable media player, the user gains monitoring capabilities without requiring the user to wear or carry an additional article.
Interestingly, the anonymous poster claims that this product is meant to be a “a gateway product to the other one.” While he says the name isn’t confirmed yet, the poster confirms that yes, the “other” product is in fact the rumored iWatch.
Would you buy a pair of these rumored new EarPods?