Apple advances Apple Watch Band Invention to Include an Embedded Strain Gauge to Record Accurate Health Data
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a continuation patent from Apple relating to a future advanced Apple Watch band that will embed sensors such a strain gauge to ensure proper tightness of a band to a user's skin in order to receive accurate health sensor readings for the heart and more.
Today's patent is not a new invention application but rather a continuation patent wherein Apple is updating and/or adding specific technology, features and/or methods that Apple wants to legally protect in their current granted patent.
The one new constant being added relates to a strain gauge. The following patent claims are new to this invention:
Claim 1: A wearable device, comprising: a housing including a processing unit and a health sensor; a band operable to couple the housing to a body part of a user; and a tightness sensor, coupled to the band and communicably coupled to the processing unit, comprising a strain gauge that produces a signal indicating a tightness of the band; wherein the processing unit is configured to: determine the tightness of the band using the signal; and if the tightness of the band is outside a range of tightness values, provide output directing the user to adjust the band to improve operation of the health sensor.
Claim 6: The wearable device of claim 1, wherein the strain gauge is positioned in the band along a lengthwise dimension of the band.
Claim #7: The wearable device of claim []1, wherein the strain gauge is positioned in a portion of the band where the band attaches to the housing and is disposed perpendicular to a direction of the attachment.
Claim 21: The wearable device of claim 1, wherein the strain gauge is operative to measure strain experienced in a lengthwise direction of the band.
Claim 22: The wearable device of claim 1, wherein the strain gauge is operative to measure strain experienced in a widthwise direction of the band.
Claim 23: The wearable device of claim 1, wherein the strain gauge is embedded in the band.
Claim 25: The wearable device of claim 8, wherein the strain gauge measures strain in multiple directions.
Claim 26: The wearable device of claim 25, wherein the processing unit uses the strain in the multiple directions measured by the strain gauge to screen out erroneous strain data.
Claim 27: The wearable device of claim 26, wherein the erroneous strain data relates to temperature variation in the band.
Claim 28: The wearable device of claim 8, wherein the strain gauge comprises: a first strain gauge disposed on a top surface of the band; and a second strain gauge disposed on a bottom surface of the band.
Claim 31: The wearable device of claim 15, wherein the processing unit determines strain data from the strain gauge relates to bending of the band instead of the tightness.
Claim 32: The wearable device of claim 31, wherein the processing unit disregards the strain data that relates to the bending.
Claim 33: The wearable device of claim 15, wherein the strain gauge is disposed in a portion of the band that couples to the housing.
Claim 34: The wearable device of claim 15, further comprising a tab coupled to the band that engages a recess defined by the housing; wherein: the strain gauge is positioned on the tab.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A below depicts a wearable electronic device that is operable to determine a tightness of a band; Apple's patent FIG. 2 above depicts an example cross-sectional view of the wearable electronic device 100 of FIG. 1B, taken along line A-A of FIG. 1B. The wearable electronic device 100 may include a tightness sensor coupled to the first band segment 103A and communicably connected to a processing unit 207 (such as via a printed circuit board 206 and a flex circuit 205 and/or other electrical connection). In this example, the tightness sensor may include a strain gauge 204.
Apple's patent FIG. 16 depicts above illustrates a flow chart of an example method for adjusting a health sensor measurement based on Apple Watch band tightness; FIG. 17 depicts a block diagram illustrating example components such as tightness sensors that may be utilized in the wearable electronic device and example functional relationships of those components.
Apple's continuation patent 20190142341 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was originally filed back in Q4 2018. Apple's first granted patent 10206623 was issued by USPTO in September 2015.
Considering that this is a continuation patent, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Many articles have been written about the new Apple Watch ECG feature having been cleared but not approved by the FDA, an important distinction.
In a CNN article by Dr. Gupta he notes that "Apple's new app is a much simpler single-lead ECG with limited capabilities. It won't help detect most heart rhythm abnormalities or worsening heart failure. It also won't reliably detect the electrical changes associated with a heart attack. Apple concedes this and provides plenty of labeling on the app and in the accompanying literature cautioning against over interpreting the results."
Having the most accurate readings begins with the key sensors resting on the user's wrist firmly and today's update to their Apple Watch granted patent is to ensure that a strain gauge on the band is resting properly on the user's wrist so as to provide the user (and Doctor with PDF Printout) with accurate data.
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