Six Apple Watch Patents Surfaced today covering GymKit, their ECG app, Activity Rings & a Hint of a Fitness Band
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of six Apple Watch related patent applications covering things like GymKit, Activity Rings, the new ECG app and even threw in a little hint that an Apple fitness band could be on the minds of Apple's engineers.
Apple's patent application 20180345077 relates to a wearable computer with fitness machine connectivity for improved activity monitoring. Translation: GymKit, treadmills that work with Apple Watch.
Apple Watch ECG App Patents
Patently Apple first covered Apple's invention to include an ECG system for an Apple Watch back in August 2016. Apple actually launched it this year with the Apple Watch Series 4.
Apple has filed continuation patent 20180344189 wherein at least patent claims #16-20 are technically new. Claim #16 reads: "A device capable of measuring electrocardiographic signals (ECG), the device comprising: a first electrode capable of being placed at a first user location; a second electrode capable of being placed at a second user location; and a processor communicatively couplable to the first and second electrodes and capable of: determining whether the first electrode and the second electrode have been improperly placed based on an ECG signal obtained from measured differences between the first electrode and the second electrode, and correcting the ECG signal when the first electrode and the second electrode are determined to have been improperly placed."
In a related secondary patent application titled "Heartrate Tracking Techniques" it notes under patent FIG. 9, that "Health metrics that may be computed using the electrodes include, without limitation, heart functions (ECG, EKG), water content, body-fat ratios, galvanic skin resistance, and combinations thereof.
Additional patents regarding Apple Watch for fitness and health include: Physical Activity Monitoring and Motivating with an Electronic Device (This covers Apple Watch Activity Rings); and Physiological Sampling During Predetermined Activities
Could Apple's Engineers be thinking of an Apple Fitness Band?
The last patent for a fitness watch is one titled "Fitness Tracking for Constrained-Arm Usage" which is a rather interesting one. The one phrase peppered through the filing is "Fitness tracking." The main illustrations are Patent FIGS. 4 and 5 as noted below. Apple engineers and illustrators know the difference between an Apple Watch and a fitness band. Even though the patent throws us off by telling us and illustrating that device #100 is an Apple Watch, the illustrations tell us something else. Is Apple trying to throw us off, or is it a graphical anomaly?
Generally I would say don't pay attention to the patent image as it's not a design patent and therefore Apple can use any graphic to express an idea or concept, which is true. However, in an earlier patent report this morning we find that it's Apple's own engineers who describe both a "smartwatch" and a "fitness watch" in the same sentence. It was a clear distinction, not an error. I highlighted that in our report because it was such an in-your-face oddity. Apple's engineers definitely know these are two distinct devices.
Is it a smoking gun? Of course not. But it could be a hint worth noting over time because the bands shown in Apple's patent figures are just too specific. It's a band without a watch head.
On Monday IDC posted a wearables report for Q3 2018 wherein Xiaomi dislodged Apple to take first place resoundingly based on selling cheap fitness bands.
Clearly there's a market for a cheaper watch in the form of a "fitness band" and Apple may want to join in that market so that once on Apple's system they might upgrade to an Apple Watch over time.
It would never mean Apple producing a cheap $79 fitness band like Xiaomi's, but they could find a price point between the cheap bands and the Apple Watch to make it profitable. Think of it as a "Premium" fitness band.
Did Apple's engineers provide us with a clue about a "possible" fitness band in the future? Only time will tell.
All in all, it was a big day at the Patent Office for Apple Watch.