Way before there was any hype about a Healthbook or HealthKit from Apple there was a patent application that we covered back in 2010 concerning a future iPhone with a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor titled "Apple Takes a Giant Leap in Biometrics with Heart Sensors." This was one of the first indicators that Apple was exploring next generation sensors for the iPhone and other future wearables such Apple's EarPods which this patent covered specifically. Today, the US Patent Office published a few new Apple patent applications regarding health sensors – with the one noted above being revisited by Apple.
Today the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed that Apple has tweaked the very patent that we covered in 2010 under application 20140171776. Apple has reduced the number of patent claims and may have tweaked other areas that we just couldn't identify under time constraints.
The combination patent figure below consists of FIG. 1 which is a schematic view of an iPhone for receiving the output of one or more sensors along with FIG. 2 which illustrates electrical activity of a heart during a heartbeat.
In Apple's patent we discover that future iterations of the iPhone could very well support sophisticated embedded heart sensors to monitor the user's heart and record such data for future identification purposes when making banking transactions or protecting highly sensitive documents or data.
Interestingly Apple's 2010 (and current) patent application notes the possible integration of a pico-like projector. This is an area of technology that we recently revisited in a special report and it's also reflected in another patent report that we posted today regarding an iPhone being able to project a virtual keyboard and much more. Apple tweaking their patent just prior to their Health app arriving on the iPhone 6 with iOS 8 is noteworthy.
On other health related patent fronts today, Apple has filed a number of applications related to health sensors and beyond. The second patent application is titled "Method and Apparatus for Automatically Setting Alarms and Notifications," as noted below.
Automatically Setting Alarms and Notifications
This particular Apple invention relates to the alarm and notification functions of smartphones and/or "a bracelet containing a built-in vibrator." The mention of a bracelet of course makes us think of Apple's iWatch patent.
In Apple's patent example # 3 they state the following: "Suppose that the user is wearing a heart rate monitor in data communication with the smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. Based on changes in the user's heart rate, the system determines that the user fell asleep at 10:55 p.m. The user's daily (static) settings will activate the Do Not Disturb feature at 11:30 p.m. However, based on the "fact" that the user has apparently fallen asleep somewhat ahead of schedule, the system may automatically activate the Do Not Disturb feature when the user falls asleep (10:55 p.m.)."
A third patent application noting sensors relating to heart rate is one titled "Method and Apparatus for Personal Characterization Data Collection Using Sensors" under number 20140172873
Apple notes in their patent claim #21 that "A processor-based system as recited in claim 20 wherein the instructions to obtain a plurality of inputs comprise instructions to obtaining two or more of: sensor data corresponding to motion of a device; sensor data corresponding to location information of the device; sensor data corresponding to the person's heart rate; data corresponding to time; data corresponding to date; and, data corresponding to personal identifying information of the person.
This third patent application also hints of a bracelet or iWatch by pointing to "wrist motions." Apple notes that a device "may receive signals and/or data from remote sensors via communication circuitry. Such remote sensors may be worn by the user of the device--e.g., wrist motion sensors, foot motion sensors, pulse rate sensors, breathing rate sensors, and the like.
By way of example, motion sensors and pulse rate sensors may indicate that a user is running. However, location sensors may report that the user is not moving and is in a building. From this data, the system may conclude that the user is running on a treadmill. Pattern recognition in sensor data may even be used to determine subtypes within a certain activity type. For example, running on pavement (streets and sidewalks) may be distinguished from running on a trail or from running on a track."
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