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Apple invents an In-Home 'Health Event' Related System that could one day Challenge 'Lifeline' in the U.S. and Canada

1 cover Apple patent regarding in-home Health Assistant application

Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a future Health focused service that may in some way challenge the health care service "lifeline" that's in the U.S. and Canada. The new patent appears to expand upon their "Fall Detection" feature found on Apple Watch but for the home using HomePod mini and more.

In Apple's patent background they note that modern electronic devices are seamlessly integrated into our surroundings, such as in a home environment or an office environment. These electronic devices are becoming increasingly popular for users accessing a range of healthcare-based applications. Users can connect to the Internet via an electronic device in their home or office and access healthcare-based applications via their mobile phones, tablet computers, home entertainment systems, and the like.

Apple's invention relates to computing devices that are integrated throughout the modern home and office environments. These computing devices can execute software applications that improve the daily lives of users and help maintain their health.

For example, wearable devices can include biometric scanners for monitoring our physiological characteristics, and fall detection systems can detect whether a user has fallen. In some instances, wearable devices can further alert a health care provider or emergency medical services if an adverse event (e.g., an adverse health event) is detected, such as an irregular heartbeat or a fall.

One issue is whether the person wants automatic communication with emergency medical services or a health care provider. In many instances, a person may simply recover on their own. For example, not every fall requires emergency medical services to respond.

Another issue is the conservation of power. In many instances, these automatic alerts are issued through Wi-Fi or cellular networks that draw more power than short-range transmission protocols. A person who wants assistance may need their device power to last as long as assistance can arrive. Transmitting messages through more power-dependent transmission protocols can waste valuable battery life.

Apple's patent addresses the above-described issues by leveraging device connectivity to enable a computing device to detect whether a person wants assistance and relay a message to another person in the same area. A user device can detect that a first person in a home environment wants assistance. For example, the user device can be equipped with positional sensors that detect that the first person has fallen in a particular room/area (e.g., the kitchen of a home). The user device can generate an event message (e.g., a health event message) and transmit that message to another device in the home. 

Apple's FIG. 5 below is a diagram of a computing device for receiving an intercom message and a notification. The iPhone could be configured to display a large widget #520 as noted below. Since the person experiencing the event wants assistance from someone, the message can be displayed in a manner to prevent the message from being lost amongst other message types. The message 418 can include a location of the person wanting assistance in the home environment. The message 418 can further include an identity of the person wanting assistance. As illustrated, the person wanting assistance is dad and he is in the living room.

The widget can further present a recording icon for presenting a recording of the person wanting assistance. A person can click on an icon and listen or watch a recording of the person wanting assistance. The recording icon further includes a location in the home environment where the recording was made. The widget can further provide an emergency medical services icon. A user can click on the emergency services icon, and the user device can contact emergency medical services.

2 Apple fig. 5

The event message can include an identifier that indicates that the message is an event message. The message can be transmitted via short-range wireless technology to conserve power. A first resident device can receive the message and then transmit the message to other resident devices throughout the location to search for someone who can provide assistance.

The resident devices can be connected to external power and therefore communicate via more power-dependent transmission protocols (Wi-Fi and cellular). The more power-dependent transmission protocols have a greater signal range which improves the probability of finding someone in the home that can provide assistance.

In some embodiments, each resident device in a home environment may be configured to perform embodiments of the present disclosure. In some embodiments, one or more resident devices may perform operations to synchronize (e.g., and/or coordinate operations) with each other.

Each resident device is generally configured for a specific location in the environment. For example, a smart speaker can be specific to a kitchen, whereas another smart speaker can be specific to a bedroom. Each resident device is generally connected to a wall socket and therefore be configured to not be moved often, as opposed to a smartwatch or a smartphone that moves about with a user.

Additionally, each resident device that receives the message from the first resident device can locally determine whether they are near someone that can provide aid.

In some embodiments, the determination can be based on a confidence score that a person is near the resident device. In the instance that a resident device determines that it is near someone, it can transmit the message to that person's user device (e.g., mobile device, smartwatch). This person can receive the message and provide assistance to the first person experiencing the event.

It should also be appreciated that one or more resident devices can be located outside of the physical home, such as in a detached garage, detached mother-in-law suite, or shed.

Each of the resident devices can be associated with user accounts that are registered on the smart home platform. The user accounts can be authorized users directly associated with the home environment. For example, the authorized users can include a mother and a father living in the home. The user accounts can further be associated with authorized user users indirectly associated with the home environment 202. For example, a user account can be associated with a babysitter, a house sitter, or a long-term guest.

In Apple's patent FIG. 4 below we're able to see a diagram of an in-home intercom and notification system in a home environment. The home environment can contain multiple rooms. The resident device #410 (HomePod(s)) can be managed by a smart home platform like HomeKit. The injured party could present a message for Siri to submit to other devices in the home or to emergency services.

3 Apple In-Home Health System

Apple's patent FIG. 6 above is a diagram of a resident device. Each resident device may be any suitable computing device (e.g., a mobile phone, tablet, a smart speaker device, a smart media player communicatively connected to a TV, etc.). In some embodiments, a resident device may be positioned in a particular location (e.g., a room) of the home environment.

A computing device can receive an event message (e.g., a health event message). The computing device can be a resident device in an environment (e.g., home or office). The event message can include a recording of a first person requesting assistance or a recording of the computing device's surrounding in instances that the person cannot communicate. The message can further include a location of the source of the message. In addition to the recording and location, the message can further include an identity of the first person, a location of the first person in the home environment. The event message can further include instructions to determine whether any other person (e.g., second person, third person, fourth person) can be detected.

Apple provides a lot of details and event scenarios, far too many for this report. To review Apple's patent titled "In-Home Event Intercom and Notification," review patent application 20230360507.

Whether Apple's patent covers an extension to their original Fall Detection Apple Watch feature to a larger in-home system or is a single part within a larger future pay-for health service from Apple is unknown at this time.

10.51FX - Patent Application Bar


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