Apple wins a patent for a future Apple Watch Band system that supports specialized bands for monitoring athletic activity & health issues
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to the identification of future Apple Watch bands that trigger added functionality for the user. It could be a specialized band adding functionality for athletes or to those with specific health issues that requires added monitoring.
Apple notes that "a selection of a certain band can influence operation of the electronic device in a variety of ways. For example, the electronic device can respond to the identification of a particular band by performing particular functions, such as changing an aspect of a user interface or altering settings of the electronic device. Such functions can be readily executed by the electronic device upon identification of the band, such that user input is not required. Accordingly, a user's experience with the electronic device can be enhanced based on the user's selection of a particular band."
Beyond that meager revelation, the patent focuses on the construction of the new bands communicating with Apple Watch and various aspects and new hardware features like adding Touch ID to the Apple Watch display.
In December 2019 Patently Apple posted a patent report about Apple Watch in relation to assisting seniors with Parkinson's disease. In the future, those with a distinct health issue could choose a band that could monitor specifics for the user and present a custom UI for that particular health issue without the user having to play with settings that are too complicated.
The same could be true for those with a specific heart problem or perhaps one band could be for athletes that are seeking to monitor very specific health measurements while exercising or playing a sport.
In Apple's patent FIG. 2 below, the band #110 can include an identification element #190 that is detectable by one or more components of the Apple Watch. The identification element can include a feature on a surface of the band and/or be embedded within the structure of the band. The display of Apple Watch may provide an image or video output. The display #104 may also provide an input surface for one or more input devices such as a touch sensing device, force sensing device, temperature sensing device, and/or a fingerprint sensor.
In patent FIGS. 3 and 4 above, we see that Apple Watch can detect an identification element #190 of a band by operating components that also perform other, independent health related functions.
As shown in FIG. 4 above, the components of the PPG sensor can also be used to detect an identification element #190 of the band. In some embodiments, the band can be positioned so that the identification element is within a light path of the light source #122 and within a field of view of the biosensor #124. Light emitted from the light source can be reflected off of the identification element.
For example, the identification element can include a pattern on the band that reflects the wavelength(s) of light emitted from the light source. As discussed above, the light can be infrared light, visible (e.g., green) light, or another wavelength value or range. Where the identification element reflects light outside of the visible spectrum, it can be non-visible to a user. For example, the identification element can include ultraviolet-reflective ink. As such, the identification element can provide identification capabilities without being noticeable by a user.
The symbol may be formed as patterns of dark (e.g., black) and light (e.g., white) bars, circles, dots or other shapes. Other patterns are contemplated, such as patterns of dots, concentric circles and the like. Other examples of barcodes include Universal Product Codes (UPCs), Code39 barcodes, Code 128 barcodes, PDF417 barcodes, EZcode barcodes, DataMatrix barcodes, QR Code barcodes, or barcodes that utilize any other type of barcode symbology.
A 1D sensor or a 2D sensor can be used to capture images of adequate resolution (e.g., pixels) to detect the identification element 190 (e.g., barcode). With some sensors, such as a PPG sensor, the barcode can be scanned by swiping the barcode in front of the sensor. The depth of focus of the sensor can be arranged so that the barcode is in focus when the band is swiped past the sensor.
In some embodiments, the identification element #190 is a symbol, such as a barcode, including a machine-readable representation of information in the form of one or more patterns.
For example, Apple Watch can include one or more biosensors and may include optical and/or electronic biometric sensors that may be used to compute one or more health metrics.
As shown in FIG. 3, Apple Watch can include a light source #122 and a biosensor #124, such as a photodetector, that are exposed on a bottom surface #120 of the watch housing (#102) to form a photoplethysmography ("PPG") sensor.
In some cases, a PPG sensor may be configured to detect changes in blood volume based on reflected light, and one or more physiological parameters of the user may be determined by analyzing the reflected light.
The optical (e.g., PPG) sensor or sensors may be used to compute various health metrics including, without limitation, a heart rate, a respiration rate, blood oxygenation level, a blood volume estimate, blood pressure, or a combination thereof.
This is Apple's second granted patent for this invention. For more details and to review Apple's 20 new patent claims review granted patent 11662691. The new patent claims are positioned at the bottom of the patent that may add new features and/or provide more protections for this invention against competitors.