Apple Wins a Patent for Smart Sportswear that monitors a user's Health, Biometrics and Environmental Conditions
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 85 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a single granted patent that has never before been made public before relating to a possible future smart sportswear line of clothing that could monitor a user's health, biometrics and environmental conditions. Beyond sportswear, the invention could be applied to any smart fabric application, such as car seats, part of Project Titan.
Apple notes as part of the patent's background that people often interact with fabric-based articles. For example, a user may have a fabric-based watch band that wraps around the user's wrist. Clothing articles may come into contact with a user's skin. A car seat in a vehicle may have a fabric-based cover that rests against the passenger's legs and back.
Conventional fabric-based articles do not adapt to a person's biometric profile. A person may find a fabric-based article to be comfortable and breathable when the person is at rest, but when emotionally stressed or physically active, the person may find the same article to be restrictive and excessively warm. A person's emotional or physical state can be negatively affected by a non-responsive fabric that does not adapt to the person's activity or biometric state.
It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved fabric-based items for adapting and responding to a user's biometric profile.
Fabric-Based Items with Environmental Control Elements
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to control systems and, more particularly, to fabrics with environmental control elements.
More specifically, a fabric-based item may adapt to and adjust the biometric state of an individual that is wearing or touching the fabric-based item. The fabric-based item may be a cover for a seat in a vehicle, an article of clothing, a wrist band for a watch, or other suitable fabric-based item.
The fabric-based item may include one or more sensors that gather biometric information about the individual and one or more environmental control devices that adjust or maintain the environment around the individual based on the biometric information.
The sensors may include temperature sensors, humidity sensors, pressure sensors, heart rate sensors, or other sensors that gather biometric information about the user.
The environmental control elements may include thermal haptic devices such as Peltier effect devices that are used to adjust the temperature of the fabric and thereby adjust the thermal sensations felt by the individual.
Other environmental control elements that may be used to control the environment around the individual include humidity control elements, airflow control elements, odor absorbing elements, odor emitting elements, or other environmental control elements that can adjust the sensations felt by the individual.
Control circuitry may be configured to operate the environmental control elements in the fabric based on the biometric information gathered by the sensors in the fabric.
Fabric-based items such as clothing and seat covers may incorporate environmental control elements. The environmental control elements may provide different sensations to an individual who is wearing, sitting on, or otherwise near the fabric-based item.
As an example, a cover for a car seat in a vehicle may include environmental control elements that regulate the environment around a passenger's body. The environmental control elements may respond to an individual's biometric profile. One or more sensors in the fabric-based item may gather information about an individual's biometric state and the environmental control elements may respond accordingly.
In general, environmental control elements may be used in any fabric-based item that comes close to an individual's body (e.g., a backpack or other bag, a couch, a wrist band, an article of clothing, etc.).
Apple's patent FIG. 7 below illustrates a side view of an illustrative vehicle with a fabric-based environmental control system.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 above is a diagram showing illustrative articles of clothing which may include environmental control elements; FIGS. 9A, 9B, 9D, and 9E show illustrative ways in which sensors and environmental control elements may be incorporated into a fabric-based article of clothing; FIG. 10 is a flow chart of illustrative steps in operating a fabric-based item with environmental control elements
For example, fabric 10 may be configured to stretch (e.g., to provide greater breathability) or shrink (e.g., to provide compression to an area on the user's body). In general, output devices 16 may provide any suitable type of output to change a user's experience (e.g., to adjust blood circulation, to alert a user, to adjust skin or body temperature, to adjust pleasurability, etc.).
In additional to heating and cooling elements, environmental control elements may include airflow control elements, filters, humidity control elements, odor-absorbing and/or odor-emitting elements, or other suitable elements for providing different sensations to an individual and controlling the environment around an individual's body and/or near the individual's skin.
Because environmental control elements may sometimes use thermal effects to induce a tactile sensation for the user, environmental control elements may sometimes be referred to as thermal haptic elements.
Output devices may be controlled based on information from sensors or may be controlled independently of sensors. For example, fabric #10 may be pre-programmed or manually operated (e.g., the fabric may be manually controlled remotely or locally by a control circuitry) to activate output devices 16 in a desired fashion.
Apple's granted patent 10,299,520 was originally filed in Q3 2015 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. We'll post the patent number later this morning.
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