Even though Apple was a late entrant in the smart wearables category, it has provided a constant stream of innovations over the past few years, starting with the Apple Watch and then complementing its lineup with AirPods. Now, a few of the company’s patents reveal that it is working on various methods to offer users more accurate physical activity data as well as easier ways for user authentication.
A new patent (US No 10,478,099) filed by the Cupertino-based consumer electronics giant hint towards more fitness and activity-related features possibly coming to its smartwatch. Plus, another patent (US No 10,484,783) filed by the firm offers us a clue about the possibility of future versions of AirPods featuring health-related sensors.
The first patent that mentioned describes methods of determining the axial orientation as well as the location of a user’s wrist, and it is achieved by EMG (electromyograph) sensors or strain gauges that are integrated into a smartwatch’s strap. Such smart bands could determine muscle movements, offering more accurate sports performance measurements and even a way to support Face ID. The patent also reveals a way to control audio using wearable devices.
Additionally, the position of the wrist and muscle movements can provide data related to exercise, check hydration levels, user authentication, and even gesture controls. The information from EMG sensors could also be used in various scenarios where a user is unable to access their smartphone so that the information is relayed to a smartwatch. We can hope that future versions of the Apple Watch come integrated with these features.
The second patent talks about integrating biometric sensors with earbuds so that heart rate, core temperature and VO2 Max data can be captured directly from a user’s ears in an unobtrusive manner. Documents reveal a way to place sensors on the exterior surface of the device that is in direct contact with a user’s skin. The earbuds-related patent names seven inventors, including Christopher J. Stringer, Edward Siahaan, Jason Lor, Phillip Qian, and Siddharth Nangia, all of who have worked on similar patents over the years.
Apple has done some clever research in the wearables segment, especially the ones related to Apple Watch’s loudspeaker design that can keep the water out. Even the company’s ECG (electrocardiograph) and Fall Detection feature that was introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 are quite useful.
While big brands like Apple file for hundreds of patents, many technologies don’t actually end up in their products. Some patented technologies which end up inside real products, don’t make it to the market years after the patents were originally filed. So, it is possible that the patents we reported about don’t end up inside AirPods or Apple Watches for a few years from now.[Via Patently Apple]