Apple Conducts Fascinating Research into Smart Port Detection
Apple Inc Files for "Apple" Trademark Under 42 International Classes

Apple Considers Advancing their Pedometer App

1 - cover - Apple Considers Advancing their Pedometer App to iOS devices - mar 2011 
Before starting this report, I just wanted to thank the Apple Team for putting on such a great iPad-2 show yesterday that presented us with a nice round of new features that many had hoped for. With that said, our second patent report of the day covers Apple's latest round of pedometer related Apps. Apple's iPod nano was the first iOS device to include this app and today's patent says that it should be coming to other iOS devices over time. A secondary pedometer related patent advances the pedometer by working with multiple sensors and might, in theory, work with a stepper which would be a welcome advance for many who workout with this kind of equipment.  


Patent Background


Pedometers are devices capable of tracking a user's steps. When a user carries a pedometer while walking, the user could monitor on the pedometer the number of steps he has walked thus far. Some pedometers are low power devices that could automatically count all of the steps that a user has walked over a fixed period of time (e.g., during a 24-hour period). Other pedometers could begin to count a user's steps only after the user has indicated that he would like his steps to be tracked.


Users of current pedometers, however, are limited to choosing between a pedometer operating in an automatic counting mode and a pedometer operating in a manual mode where a manual indication for step counting is required. Users may also desire a pedometer that could seamlessly switch between multiple step counting modes. For example, a user may want the pedometer to seamlessly switch from an automatic counting mode to a manual counting mode and finally back to the automatic counting mode.


Apple's Solution


Apple's solution includes systems and methods that provide for seamless switching between multiple pedometer modes.


An electronic device that the patent notes as covering devices like the iPod, iPod touch (PDA) and/or iPhone, could include a pedometer application that could start counting steps in a first mode. For example, the pedometer application could count steps in an ambient mode for which all of a user's steps could be automatically counted during an ambient period. For instance, the pedometer application could count all of the user's steps during a 24-hour period. Moreover, the counting could automatically restart at the end of each 24-hour period. In response to receiving a first input to start a second mode, the pedometer application could switch to counting steps in the second mode. For example, in response to receiving one or more user inputs, the pedometer application could switch to counting steps in a session mode, for which the user's steps could be counted for a specific session. The counting of steps may be in response to a user input. The user may, for example, press a button on an electronic device (e.g., the electronic device could include the pedometer), select a virtual button on a touch screen of the electronic device, rotate a click wheel on the electronic device, shake the electronic device, or any combination thereof. Then, in response to receiving a second input to end the second mode (e.g., a session mode), the pedometer application could switch back to counting steps in the first mode (e.g., an ambient mode).


The pedometer application could also provide historical step information by displaying a calendar to the user. The historical step information could include step information obtained in multiple pedometer modes. In some embodiments, the calendar could include indicators for time periods in which step information were obtained in a session mode of operation.


For a given time period, the pedometer application could determine multiple modes of operation. In some embodiments, the pedometer application could combine step information for the multiple modes of operation. For example, the pedometer application could display the total steps counted for both the ambient mode and the session mode for a given time period. In some embodiments, the pedometer application could allow the user to choose whether to combine step information for multiple modes of operation.


In response to a user input, for example, the pedometer application could display a graphical representation of the counted steps for a given time period. In some embodiments, the graphical representation could be a bar graph. The pedometer application could, for example, determine a time increment for the graph based on the frequencies used to store the counted steps. The pedometer application could also determine a start time for the graph based on, for example, the start time of the ambient mode. The pedometer application could display the graphical representation based on both the determined time increment and the determined start time. In some embodiments, the graphical representation of the counted steps could change depending on the mode of operation.


The graphical representation could also be interactive. For example, the user may select an input to either increase or decrease the time increment of the graphical representation. The user may also select an input to view counted steps for consecutive time periods.


The pedometer application could store historical step information for multiple modes of operation. In some embodiments, the duration of historical step information could be specified by the user. In response to the user selecting a longer duration, the pedometer application could download missing historical step information from a server. In response to the user selecting a shorter duration, the pedometer application can upload historical step information to the server.


Below is a current iPod touch interface without the Pedometer App which patent figure 3 illustrates may fall under photos should it come to other iOS as described in the patent.


2 - Apple Patent - pedometer app - mar 2011 

Various Patent Graphic-Styled Screenshots


3 - Apple Patent on iOS Pedometer App mar 2011 

Adding Pedometer Sensors to the Mix


In a secondary patent, Apple shows that their considering adding more stats to the Pedometer App as noted above. The patent never really spells out why you'd want to add a plethora of sensors that they may offer in the future, so I would suspect that a future patent may further explain this.


In Apple's patent FIG. 7, we see an iPhone/iPod touch provided with motion sensor templates. Each motion sensor template may include template sensor data that is associated with the motion sensor data collected by the motion sensor of the iOS device.


4  - apple patent - motion sensor templates working with iOS device or external sensors - mar 2011 

The templates relate to the collection of data concerning the user's activities of walking or running. The system works with the motion sensor built into the iOS device and/or on sensors located elsewhere on the body as noted in patent FIG. 8 which includes a wrist or headband, backpack, arm band, belt, pocket, chest strap, necklace, leg and running shoe or foot. These sensors could also collect data related to the runners "tilting" and/or "shaking" actions which hints that such a system would be able to use the device with a stepper at a gym. That would be a welcomed addition to the Nike + iPod or similar program.


This is an extraordinarily long and tedious read for a pedometer related app. However, if you're a part of a physical education program or the like, you could always check out patent application 20110054833 originally filed in Q3 2009.


The first patent report could be found under number 20110054838. It was likewise originally filed in Q3 2009.


Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today


While preparing for this report, Apple sent me an email me detailing their Joint Venture business related service that's now available. Patently Apple was first to break the news about their new trademark filed a year ago with the graphic shown below.  



The FCC Publishes iPad 2 Documents Today


The FCC Released a ton of iPad 2 related reports today under dockets BCGA1395, 1396 and 1397 which consisted of a number of SAR tests.


Extra 2 - FCC published many ipad2 related docs today - mar 2011 re Apple 

Other patent application information may be listed here later today.


Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.  




Ivan Berka

Actions like shaking etc. could pretty well serve as a triggers for session mode change; with iOS device in the pocket, one would like to start the tracked running session by single shaking the sensor (when sensor attached on leg). I'd like the idea to use nonstandard motions (nonstandard to given activity i.e. running etc.) to be used for that purpose (shaking leg = starting/ending my run).


We've seen the sports training patents before, but seemingly Apple's never pulled the trigger to really realise the potential sporting capabilities of an iPod. Hamfisted ANT dongles aside - Android handsets romp ahead through at least having the TI chips to do this kind of thing integrated. Least Apple's accumulating the patents on this should they go into it. If only they'd update to BTLE... It'll be interesting to see if they put GPS, gyro/accelerometers into the nano/ make something Fat nano sized for this coming fall.

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