Beyond AirTags for tracking 'things', Apple has invented future 'Wearable Tags' worn on clothing for tracking Health, Fitness & more
Apple first introduced 'AirTags' in April 2021. On May 2, 2023, Apple and Google announced that they're jointly working on an industry specification to address unwanted tracking. Now we're learning that Apple is working on a new kind of AirTag that Apple simply describes as a 'Wearable Tag." In a newly discovered patent application in Europe this morning, Apple describes an iPhone that could communicate with wearable tags that may be placed on different parts of a user's body or clothing and may be used for one or more health-related functions such as posture monitoring, sun exposure monitoring, physical therapy, running assistance, fall detection, fitness/activity tracking, motion tracking, medical applications, biometric applications, personal training, and other functions.
The wearable tag may have different types of sensors that gather different types of sensor data depending on the health-related function that the wearable tag is being used for.
A user may configure, control, and receive data from the wearable tag using an electronic device. The electronic device may be used to determine the location of the wearable tag on the user's body and to determine the desired health-related function for the wearable tag based on user input or based on sensor data gathered from the wearable tag.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of an illustrative system of the type that may include one or more wearable tags. As shown in FIG. 1, system #8 may include one or more tags such as wearable tag #10 and one or more electronic devices such as electronic device #40 (an iPhone). Each wearable tag may be worn on a person's body (e.g., a person's wrist, arm, finger, arm, neck, waist, ankle, or other suitable body part) or clothing. Tags may send tag data to, receive control signals from, and/or otherwise communicate with an iPhone, Apple Watch, HMD, smartglasses Mac, iPad and more.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a side view of an illustrative wearable tag #10. As shown in FIG. 2, the tag includes a housing such as housing #58. The housing, enclosure or case may be formed of plastic, glass, ceramics, fiber composites, metal (e.g., stainless steel, aluminum, etc.), fabric, other suitable materials or a combination of any two or more of these materials.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4, 5, 6, and 7 above are illustrative screens that may be displayed on a device like an iPhone, Apple Watch etc., during use of the wearable tag.
Apple's patent FIG.S 8, 9, 10 AND 11 are illustrative examples of different use cases for tag 10. These examples are merely illustrative. If desired, the tag may be placed in different locations and/or may be used for other purposes.
In FIG. 8, the tag could be configured as a running assistant and may measure the supination and/or pronation angle of the user's foot (e.g., the angle between the tibia and foot) using a motion sensor while the user is running.
In FIG 10, the tag placed above the user's knee and another tag below the user's knee, the tags may be configured to measure an amount of flexion in the knee (e.g., by comparing the motion and/or angle of the upper leg to that of the lower leg).
In FIG. 11, we see an illustrative example in which user has placed multiple tags all over their body for full-body tracking capabilities. Full-body motion tracking may be used for physical therapy applications, dancing applications, fitness tracking applications, sports applications, and/or any other suitable application where full-body tracking is desired.
For more details, review Apple's European patent application number EP4175534, published on May 10, 2023. Although Apple's patent dates back to 2020, it was filed under the names of Apple's engineers and not Apple the company so as to avoid being detected in the U.S.. When the patent is finally granted, Apple's name will officially appear on the U.S. patent. The European patent published on Wednesday does in fact list Apple as the applicant.