Apple adding ear-worn wearable device expert to its engineering team

winokurApple may be adding yet another research scientist to the engineering team that is working on wearable devices, claims a report in MacRumors. Sources told the site that MIT researcher Eric Winokur will be leaving the private research university to join Apple in the coming weeks.

Winokur is part of MIT’s Medical Electronic Devices Realization Center, where, among other things, he works on ear-worn devices that monitor vitals such as pulse and heart rate. As noted on his LinkedIn page, one of Winokur’s specialties is “wearable medical device R&D.”

My professional experience includes many aspects of research and development in the electrical engineering field, with an emphasis on medical monitors. From conceptualizing designs to following through with circuit layout (both IC and PCB) and building full prototypes, I have enjoyed being involved in the entire process.

Specialties: Wearable medical device R&D, circuit design, PCB and IC layout, signal processing, physiological to electrical signal conversion.

The report of Winkour’s hiring surfaced at the same time a circulating rumor claims Apple is working on an advanced version of its EarPods headphones that include a heart rate monitor, blood pressure sensor and iBeacon technology to prevent them from being lost. This claim was posted anonymously on Secret by a disgruntled former Apple employee with knowledge of the project.

Though initially dismissed as a wild claim, this rumor may have some merit as Apple has patents on technology that describes the addition of sensors to accessories, including one that resembles an ear-worn device. A second patent describes a headphone-based physiological monitoring system.

Though there is no way to confirm this information, the rumor claims the ear pods are a gateway to a second product, which allegedly is Apple’s rumored iWatch device. Would you be interested in sensor-enabled EarPods?