Apple won a Patent today for Measuring Activity performed by a Wheelchair user wearing an Apple Watch
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 62 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's patent that demonstrates the detail and commitment to making the Apple Watch accessible to wheelchair users in a meaningful way. Apple first introduced this feature within a special segment of the Apple Watch presentation during their WWDC 2016 event.
Detecting Activity by a Wheelchair user
Various human activities, such as activities by a wheelchair user, involve repetitive motions of the arms. For example, pushing oneself in a wheelchair, rowing, push-ups and pull-ups, and assembly-line tasks may all involve repetition of a sequence of motions using the hands, arms, and wrists. A wearable device may be worn on the hand, wrist, or arm of the person performing the activity. It may be desirable to track activity by a wheelchair user for health, safety, or productivity reasons.
According to one aspect of Apple's granted patent covers a method for tracking activity by a wheelchair user that can include collecting motion data of a user device located on an appendage of the user, detecting by a processor circuit that one or more activities by the wheelchair user occurred based on the motion data, estimating by a processor circuit an energy expenditure by the user based on the one or more activities, and outputting the estimated energy expenditure by a processor circuit. In some embodiments, the motion sensor can include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, or a combination thereof.
In some embodiments, the method can include tracking pushes by the wheelchair user. In some embodiments, the method can include determining a pose angle and a calculated energy based on the motion data. In some embodiments, the method can include detecting a push occurred based on a determined pose angle and a calculated energy.
In some embodiments, the method can include comparing by a processor circuit the determined pose angle with a pose angle threshold, comparing by a processor circuit the calculated energy with an energy threshold, and determining by a processor circuit a push occurred if the determined pose angle is below the pose angle threshold and the calculated energy is above the energy threshold.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is an Apple Watch; FIG. 2 depicts a block diagram of example components that may be found within an Apple Watch; FIGS. 4A-4D illustrate four typical patterns of motion for a wheel chair user pushing their wheelchair; and FIG. 28A illustrates the directions of accelerometer forces for a wrist-worn device on the right wrist. FIG. 28B illustrates the directions of accelerometer forces for a wrist-worn device on the left wrist.
Apple's patent FIGS. 34A-34C above illustrate the results of using accelerometer-gyro sensor fusion to detect three dimensional paths; FIG. 35 illustrates another method for identifying stroke type using three-dimensional path data.
Apple's granted patent is the technology behind Apple's work on Apple Watch under "Accessibility/Mobility" that covers a workout for those in wheelchairs. This was first introduced during the WWDC 2016. The video below is set to begin right at the point where the Apple Watch for wheelchair feature for exercising was first introduced.
Apple's granted patent 10,646,117 was filed for in Q2 2017 and published today by the U.S. Patent Office. To review the more than 75 patent figures and details, click here. Patently Apple first covered this as a patent application back in 2017.
Below are a few of the wheelchair movements shown at WWDC 2016 that were covered in today's granted patent.