Two weeks ago we posted a popular report titled "New Apple Watch Patent Covers Wearable Multi-Modal Physiological Sensing System." Apple's European patent filing was to address an established shortfall of Apple's heart rated monitor. According to Apple's Apple Watch literature, "The heart rate sensor can also use infrared light. This mode is what Apple Watch uses when it measures your heart rate every 10 minutes." However, Apple later notes that "Apple Watch attempts to measure your heart rate every 10 minutes, but won't record it when you're in motion or your arm is moving." Our report presented the advancements being contemplated to fix this shortfall. Earlier today we discovered yet another newly published patent application from Apple in Europe. This time around Apple takes a different approach to solving this problem by introducing us to a new tilt effect sensor and much more.
Apple's Patent Background
Apple notes that some conventional portable electronic devices can be worn or otherwise attached to a user and provide functionality related to the physical activity of a user. For example, many conventional wearable devices can monitor the heart rate of a user.
However, conventional devices are limited in their functionality, and their accuracy can be limited by changes in the distance of the user with respect to the wearable device.
The following disclosure includes examples of determining a proximity and rotational angles of a user relative to a portable electronic device. The portable electronic device can be worn or resting on a user body part, or attached to a user body part. The device can include electrodes for calculating distances and rotational angles between the user body part and the device. Based on the calculated distances and rotational angles, a physical activity of the user can be determined. Additionally, the calculated distances and rotational angles can be used for compensation of optical artifacts in one or more signals detected or generated by the device. For example, the device can include one or more light emitters and sensors for determining or at least estimating or predicting one or more characteristics of the user, such as a physical activity of the user. User movement or physical activity can introduce optical artifacts, which can lead to erroneous determination of the one or more characteristics. The calculated distances and rotational angles can be used to reduce or remove the optical artifacts, leading to a more accurate determination of the one or more characteristics of the user.
Possible Apple Watch Underside Configurations
Apple's patent figures 3A-3B noted below illustrate a cross-sectional view and a view of the underside of a possible future Apple Watch (referred to in the patent as "an exemplary portable/wearable electronic device") configuration that includes a combination of light emitters, optical sensors, and electrodes.
Apple's patent Figure 3C noted above illustrates a view of the underside of an exemplary portable electronic device with electrodes that substantially fill the entire area of the underside of the device.
Apple's patent Figure 3D illustrates a view of the underside of an exemplary portable electronic device comprising multi-row, multi-column skin proximity and tilt effect sensors without a surrounding shield.
And finally, Apple's patent Figure 3E illustrates a view of the underside of an exemplary portable electronic device comprising multi-row, multi-column skin proximity and tilt effects sensors with a surrounding shield. This particular patent figure adds a secondary shield #370 used to prevent internal and/or external interference.
The Apple Watch could be designed to Calculate Rotational Angles with 9 Electrodes
Apple's patent Figures 5A to 5F illustrate rotational angles calculated a possible future Apple Watch ("an exemplary portable electronic device attached to a user's wrist") with nine electrodes located on its underside.
Apple's patent Figures 5A and 5B illustrate calculated pitch and roll angles when the user is jogging. The rows and columns can be designated as shown in FIG. 3B above. Using the capacitance values measured and calculated distances from the nine electrodes, six roll and six pitch values or angles can be calculated. For example, Roll 1 represents the roll calculated from electrodes 328 and 329 of FIG. 3B, and Pitch 1 represents the pitch calculated from electrodes 325 and 326 of FIG. 3B.
Apple's patent Figures 5C and 5D illustrate calculated pitch and roll angles when the user is clenching their fist.
Apple's patent Figures 5E and 5F illustrate calculated pitch and roll angles when the user is flexing their fingers. Based on one or more of the pitch, roll, and contour map, the device can determine or at least predict physical activities being performed by a user.
Additionally, the device can determine or at least estimate the intensity of the physical activities based on the magnitude of the calculated roll and pitch values. In some examples, the device can compute the calculated rotational angles in conjunction with the outputs from other device components, such as the light emitters and optical sensors.
Flowchart: Apple Watch Calculating Distance and Rotational Angles
In Apple's patent figure 6 we're able to see a flowchart of an exemplary process flow for calculating the distance and rotational angles of an exemplary portable electronic device relative to a user. Process #600 can begin at #602 where the capacitance or change in capacitance can be measured at one or more electrodes. At #604, the distances from the electrodes to the body part can be calculated based on the measured capacitance values. At #606, one or more pitch and roll values can be calculated from the calculated distances. At #608, a contour map can be generated. At #610, the device can optionally determine or at least estimate the user's physical activity and intensity based on the pitch and roll values and the contour map.
At #612, the device can optionally generate a notification to the user or store the information for future purposes or historical tracking. For example, for a user undergoing physical therapy for a tendonitis issue, the device can notify a user of excessive wrist movement based on one more of the distance, pitch and roll information that exceeds magnitude and/or duration thresholds. The device can track the user's movement over the course of a certain timeframe, and a doctor can use the historically tracked information for therapy purposes.
In another example, the device can utilize one or more of the distance, pitch and roll information to detect low intensity trembling or shaking and correlate the movement with excessive stress. In response to this detected movement, the device can notify the user to relax or play relaxing music to calm the user down.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 shown below illustrates an exemplary compensation of a user's heart rate due to a change in distance between a portable electronic device and the user's body part. The device can compensate for a change in gap between the device and the user's body part.
Apple's patent application was published today in Europe. Interestingly to note that one of the Apple engineers listed as an inventor used to work at Maxim Integrated that works with automotive industry players in regards to advanced infotainment systems that include integrated TV tuners and beyond as noted below.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Comments are reviewed daily from 5am to 6pm MST and sporadically over the weekend.