Apple Files for Second AirPods-Related ‘Sleep Mask’ Device Patent that’s Jammed with Biometric Health Sensors
Apple acquired Beddit back in 2017 and has been filing patents since that time to advance sleep monitoring systems (01, 02, 03 and 04). In 2020, Apple introduced Sleep Tracking with iOS 7. Apple recognized early on that sleep monitoring could play an important part of their new focus on personal health care. In fact, Apple refers to ‘Sleep’ 38 times in their latest report titled “Empowering people to live a healthier day” that they released last week.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s second patent relating to an all-new AirPods Family device concept that they refer to as a “Sleep Mask.”
The device includes a fabric that covers the user's eye area to promote relaxation and sleep while they listen to their favorite music. In addition, the associated AirPods integrated into the fabric of the device is packed with biometric health sensors including sensor monitoring eye and brain activity. The new device is like a next-gen smart eye mask.
Headphones may be worn by people who desire to listen to audio content. Headphones may not, however, be sufficiently comfortable for napping or wearing for long periods of time.
Apple's invention covers an all-new AirPods family device that is primarily formed with a soft fabric that sits over the user's eye and nose area.
The ends may have ear openings with triangular edge portions that receive the user's ears. Tragus openings may be formed in the fabric to accommodate the tragus portions of the user's ears. A soft central portion of the fabric between the ends may overlap the user's eyes. Light sources may be placed within the central portion to provide illumination for the user's eyes.
Sensors may be used to gather sensor information such as biometric sensor information. The sensors, control circuitry, and power source may be mounted in a stiff edge portion of the fabric.
In Apple's patent FIG. 1 below they illustrate the face of the device that's made with fabric. The device #10 may include conductive strands or metal traces on a substrate such as a printed circuit or fabric layer that form signal paths for carrying electrical signals (e.g., wires in fabric 30 and/or attached to a surface of fabric #30).
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Apple's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates a top view of user #71 and device #10 showing how device may be worn by user. As shown in FIG. 5, the device may stretch across the face of user's head #70, covering the user's eyes #72.
The device may also cover some or all of the user's nose #74. By blocking the eyes, the device may allow a user to sleep or rest even when ambient lighting conditions are bright.
Biometric Sensors +
According to Apple, sensors integrated into the device may include force sensors (e.g., strain gauges, capacitive force sensors, resistive force sensors, etc.), audio sensors such as microphones (e.g., microphones to monitor snorting, microphones for active noise cancellation, etc.), touch and/or proximity sensors such as capacitive sensors (e.g., capacitive touch sensors for gathering user touch input to adjust the operation of the device, capacitive touch sensors for determining when the device is being worn against the skin of a user or is not being worn, etc.), optical sensors such as optical sensors that emit and detect light, and/or other touch sensors and/or proximity sensors, monochromatic and color ambient light sensors, image sensors, sensors for detecting position, orientation, and/or motion (e.g., accelerometers.
The device may also integrate magnetic sensors such as compass sensors, gyroscopes, and/or inertial measurement units that contain some or all of these sensors), biometric sensors such as muscle activity sensors (EMG) for measuring eye muscle contractions and other muscle contractions, eye motion sensors, blood pressure sensors, heart rate sensors, electrocardiography (ECG) sensors for measuring heart activity, photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors for sensing the rate of blood flow using light, and electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors for measuring electrical activity in the user's brain.
In addition, the device may also include pressure sensors (e.g., force sensors that can detect pressure on the side of a user's head when the user is resting against a pillow), humidity sensors, temperature sensors, moisture sensors, and/or other sensors.
In some arrangements, the device may use buttons to gather button press input, touch sensors overlapping displays can be used for gathering user touch screen input, touch pads may be used in gathering touch input, microphones may be used for gathering audio input, accelerometers may be used in monitoring when a finger contacts an input surface and may therefore be used to gather finger press input, etc.).
Apple's Second Patent Covers 20 New Patent Claims
Apple’s secondary patent on this device published today covers the addition of 20 new patent claims to better protect the invention from competitors and patent trolls. Below are four of the twenty new patent claims:
New Patent Claim #1: “A wearable electronic device configured to be worn by a user, comprising: a central portion having light-blocking fabric; a right speaker disposed in a right end coupled to a first end of the central portion; and a left speaker disposed in a left end coupled to a second end of the central portion, wherein: the right end has a first portion configured to bias the right speaker towards a right ear concha of the user and a second portion configured to receive a right tragus of the user; and the left end has a first portion configured to bias the left speaker towards a left ear concha of the user and a second part configured to receive a left tragus of the user.
New Patent Claim #10: “A system comprising: a wearable electronic device having fabric, speakers inside the fabric, tragus openings, and a sensor configured to gather health data; and an enclosure having a first wall portion configured to receive the wearable electronic device, and a second wall portion that rotates relative to the first wall portion and that at least partially covers the wearable electronic device in a closed position.”
New Patent Claim #11: “The system of claim #10, wherein the wearable electronic device comprises a sleep mask having light sources.”
New Patent Claim #18: “An enclosure comprising: a rear wall portion configured to receive a wearable electronic device; a first front wall portion coupled to the rear wall portion via a first hinge, wherein the first front wall portion rotates relative to the rear wall portion about the first hinge and at least partially covers the wearable electronic device in a closed position; a second front wall portion coupled to the rear wall portion via a second hinge, wherein the second front wall portion rotates relative to the rear wall portion about the second hinge and at least partially covers the wearable electronic device in the closed position; and a battery for charging the wearable electronic device.”
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20220240016.