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Apple invents a water-centric sensor system for Apple Watch that could notify a Swimmer that a shark is nearby & much more

1 cover Shark - Apple Watch warning system for sharks and more

 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 54 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this last granted patent report of the day we cover a next-generation of sensors that could be coming to a future Apple Watch.  While Apple Watch just added an ECG component to monitor a user's heart, we're now learning that Apple is developing an entire new wave of health sensors that will appeal to active young adults that love the outdoors.

 

More specifically, Apple's patent focuses on sensors that could also detect a user's environment in relation with water and the makeup of water. For instance, Apple Watch may be able to warn a swimmer or snorkeler that a shark is in their vicinity and to be aware of that danger.

 

Cutting to the chase, Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates the back of a future Apple Watch with a band that contains a sensor on the inside of the band. Apple notes that sensor #128 can be used to detect an amount of perspiration, or sweat, on the surface of the user's skin. In this way, the sensor can be used to trigger other sensors that can determine, for example, a pH level of the sweat, a presence of pathogens, chemicals associated with diseases, and so forth.

 

2 Apple Watch patent figs 2  3a & 4

 

Apple's patent FIG. 3A above shows a representative cross-sectional view of sensor system #300 carried by Apple Watch.  The housing of the watch can include opening #122 that can lead to cavity #302 (or well #302), having volume that defines at least a threshold amount of water indicating that the watch is submerged or otherwise in contact with a substantial amount of water corresponding to a lake, stream, pool, ocean, and so forth.

 

The sensor knows the difference between the watch being in a body of water versus having water dribble in by rain, lawn sprinklers and so forth. In this way, false alerts or triggers can be avoided.

 

In patent FIG. 4 above, Apple notes that system #400 can include sensor engine #402 that can include primary sensing layer #404 that can be used as a triggering mechanism for the sensor engine.

 

The triggering mechanism uses a sensing layer can be used to periodically monitor an external environment for a particular element of the external environment.

 

Based upon the processing carried out by the processing layer (#412), the notification layer (#414) can provide a notification to the user in accordance with a pre-determined set of conditions or observations provided by the sensor engine.

 

The notification system can be related to aspects of the environmental element that a user can consider important or at least relevant to a health of the user. The notification system can provide users with warnings and/or provide other courses of action to be taken based upon current environmental conditions.

 

For instance, the notification system can warn a user that is swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving in the ocean of dangerous conditions such as rip tides or that dangerous predators such as sharks are in the area.

 

The watch could also have another type of sensor layer that could monitor the water for property detection. Apple specifically notes that If geo-location data indicates that body of water is near a lake, then bio-matter sensor could be arranged to detect bio-matter such as harmful pathogens. A chemical sensor for detecting harmful chemicals can trigger a user alert.

 

Apple continues to list yet another round of sensors. They note that there's a salinity detector that can be used to determine the salinity of the water and based upon that result, a determination can be made that the water is either salt water or fresh water.

 

If the water is determined to correspond to salt water, then a geo-location device can fix a current location as being an ocean (or a lake). The location can also be indirectly determined by a context of use evaluation as well as data received from the user in the form of user physical data (heartbeat, breathing rate, etc.).

 

In this case, certain other sensors can be called upon to detect particular properties of the salt water associated with the ocean and more particularly to the location at which the system is positioned. The other sensors can be selected to determine an overall view of how benign the current environment is with regards to a user's health.

 

For example, a bio-matter sensor can be used to detect pathogens and pH sensor can be used to detect unsafe pH levels. Moreover, other sensors such as the chemical sensor can be used to detect dangerous chemicals whereas particulate sensor can be used to detect particulates. In any case, information from the sensors can be processed by the processor that can cause the notification layer to issue a relevant notification.

 

Apple's patent FIG. 7 below illustrates a flowchart showing a method for using a Apple Watch as an environmental sensor/health monitor.

 

3 fig. 7 flow chart

 

Apple's granted patent 10,617,358 was originally filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Apple Inventors

 

Trevor Ness: Senior Manager, Product Design; Led core team on Apple Watch development, analysis, prototyping and testing.

Kathy Tong: Product Design Engineer

Bill Lukens: Product Design Engineer

Steven P. Cardinali: Official position unknown. His patent background shows that he's worked on many facets of Apple Watch and related sensing biological parameters

 

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar

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