Apple Invents a way to accurately Measure a user's Body Volume/Shape for future Health and Fashion Retail Apps
14 years ago Apple engineers worked on future retail store apps relating to the fashion world covering the "Virtual Closet" and Online Shopping. Of course they were too ahead of their time. One big issue with ordering clothes online is wondering if the sizes you're ordering will actually fit right. Well, it appears that Apple may be working on a solution for just that issue.
Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to the use of a wide range of Apple devices that could be used to collect a user's body-volume data into long-term body-size tracking. The collected data could be used in future health apps and for supplying body-size measurements for cloth fitting apps and online shopping.
According to Apple's patent background, acquiring the volume of a person typically requires a dedicated optical system to map out the person's body. The most accurate hardware used for determining a person's volume is large, complex and/or cumbersome, making it difficult to integrate into small consumer electronic devices that are convenient for users. In this way, there is a tradeoff between the ease of use and measurement capabilities.
There is a need for a new method to perform on-demand and continuous body-volume measurement using a handheld device such as a smartphone, smartwatch, earbuds and more. This is what Apple's patent addresses.
Apple's invention covers technology that provides methods and systems to perform on-demand and continuous body-volume measurement using portable devices.
In some aspects, the subject technology provides a system to calculate user torso volume from multiple hand-held and/or wearable devices. In one or more aspects, a moving measurement device such as a smartwatch having an inertial-measurement unit (IMU) (e.g., an accelerometer and a gyroscope) can be used to build a point-cloud map of a user's torso.
In one or more aspects, Apple's method uses a fixed linkage of a limb (e.g., an arm), obtained from a manually entered length in an accompanying application (app) or automatically determined using an acoustic transducer integrated into the moving measurement device, to determine torso volume.
The fixed linkage of the limb can be fed into an algorithm to extract the torso-region volume accurately. The algorithm acquires a set of device measurements and sensor outputs captured by the moving device and a reference device, and it infers the volume measurements based on the data input from the IMU or radiofrequency (RF) sensors and acoustic transducers.
A data pipeline mechanism may connect the body-volume data into health metrics and cloth-sizing apps. The body volume and/or shape determination of the subject technology can be used in a number of apps, such as long-term body-size tracking for health apps and body-size measurement for cloth fitting and online shopping.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A below is a schematic diagram illustrating an example system for using handheld devices to determine body volume and/or shape; FIG. 1B is a flow chart illustrating an example method of using handheld devices to determine body volume and/or shape.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is a schematic diagram illustrating an example system for using handheld devices, including a reference device at a distance from a user for body volume and/or shape determination.
The reference device #310, a HomePod mini may include an IMU (#326), ultrasonic transceiver #322 or an RF device #324 such as a Wi-Fi device or an UWB device. The measurement device #320 is moved between the designated locations #330 to obtain a 3-D point cloud map that's based on an algorithm that calculates body volume/shape of the user (#102). The accuracy of the volume/shape measurement is partly determined by the count of the data points of the 3-D point cloud map and the number of sensors in the measurement device #320.
The IMU sensors are the minimum set of sensors needed to be used for the measurement device (#320) involved in volume measurement. The relative distance and rotation information are used to build the 3-D map of the user's torso.
The refence device #310 can be on-body or off-body. The UWB sensors provide ranging and direction information with mm-level resolution. Integrating UWB sensors not only provides an accurate length information, but it can also provide relative directions. The measurements will be estimated based on various signals, for example a time-of-arrival signal, an angle-of-arrival signal, a received-signal-strength signal and a time-difference-of-arrival signal at various locations (e.g., designated locations 330) in the body of the user.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below illustrates a flow chart illustrating an example process for using handheld devices for body volume and/or shape determination.
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A and 5B above illustrate an example user's body showing a set of measured three-dimensional points and a set of triangular surfaces used for body volume and/or shape determination, in accordance with various aspects of the subject technology.
For more details, review Apple's US patent application number 20230086268. Who knew years ago that Apple would enter the phone market or the movie business or the TV show business or even health? Will Apple ever enter the fashion world or is the invention designed for their developers? Only time will tell.
- Wegene Tadele: Apple Watch EE Tech Lead
- Motohide Hatanaka: Product Design Engineer, Health Products
- Nick Trincia: Product Developer
- Bill Smith: Software Engineer