Orange County – Apple was recently granted an interesting patent that has to do with health monitoring earphones. The new technology is intended for use in sports and fitness and would track vital health statistics in real time. The new product would allow users to control the connected device through the use of hand gestures and would provide feedback as to body temperature, perspiration, and heart rate.
According to the particulars of the filing, Apple is exploring ways to alert users when they have reached a certain goal in a workout by beeping when a certain distance, heart rate, or speed is reached. Other features described in the patent show ways that users could adjust the device with hands-free signals. Specifically, the filing details how a person might be able to turn the volume up or down or change music tracks with the tilt of the head or other slight body movement.
The technological details of the patent reveal how accelerometers and other sensors will be implemented in each of two earbuds, which will then communicate to the attached Apple device by either a physical cord or through bluetooth. As for its ability to measure physical phenomena occurring within the user’s body, the filing describes how biometric technology will work to transfer information from the earbuds’ contact with the skin and ear cavity to the attached device.
This patent adds to Apple’s attempt to integrate technology and fitness. The company already offers Nike+iPod to its many health conscious customers, which allows users to track their workout progress with a small sensor that works in conjunction with the iPhone or iPod and specially designed Nike running shoes. According to this patent, the new earbuds would eliminate the need for users to buy an intermediate sensor device. Instead, a user can simply plug the earbuds into their existing Apple iPhone or iPod and the tracking technology will work. The patent filing makes note of this improvement, stating, “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 any additional article.” In the future one could imagine the device being developed further to provide wearable technology to compete with Google’s Glass device.