4 Comments

Summary:

The patent describes a headphone-based monitoring system that can detect metrics such as heart rate, perspiration and temperature.

Apple health tracking headphones
photo: USPTO

Rumors of a fitness-focused iWatch from Apple have only recently reached a fever pitch, but a patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday shows the company has been interested in a way to track health and fitness since at least 2007. Spotted by AppleInsider, the patent describes a head-mounted monitoring system that can detect data such as heart rate, perspiration and temperature, and can be controlled via head movements.

In the patent, Apple details ways to incorporate this monitoring system into earbuds, headphones or headsets. Because any of those devices are worn close to your ear, an embedded activity sensor can measure fitness metrics such as heart rate. This data is then synced back to your iOS device via the headphone cord or wirelessly over Bluetooth.

Apple EarPods

Additional sensors — such as an accelerometer, gyroscope and/or motion sensor — might also be integrated, allowing the headset to recognize movement-based controls. This means you could skip songs or control volume with a simple tilt of your head, though I could also see a feature like that making for a lot of unintended musical choices.

Apple originally filed for the patent back in 2008 (after a provisional application in 2007), but it actually seems more relevant than ever today. The headset it describes reminds me a lot of the heart rate monitoring headphones that LG introduced at CES earlier this year, though it looks as if Apple’s version could detect a lot more than just heart rate.

Considering Apple first filed for the patent over five years ago, this idea likely predated the rumored iWatch and fitness focus for iOS 8. And while Apple’s trademark white earbuds may not be as ubiquitous as they once were, I could see them making a comeback if they could be used to do more than listen to music. I just hope they’ll sound better too.

  1. @Alex,

    Please get your facts straight before publishing your articles. This is now the third time you have recently published something related to patents without knowing the correct terminology or without using the correct information.

    Here are two incorrect statements by you:

    1) You stated “Apple originally filed for the patent back in 2008 (after a provisional application in 2007) …”

    2) You also stated “… a patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday shows [that Apple] has been interested in a way to track health and fitness since at least 2007.”

    Two points:
    1) Apple did not file a patent application in 2008, nor a provisional in 2007 for said patent. It was inventors Quin Hoellwarth (from Idaho) and Christopher Prest (from California) who filed the provisional in 2007 and the application in 2008 that then had allowable patent subject matter that then became a granted patent.
    2) Apple did not obtain interest in the patent/patent application until 2012.

    Evidence of this comes simply by reading the USPTO File Wrapper for this case on the USPTO website.

    It wasn’t until September 5, 2012 until the applicants/inventors Quin Hoellwarth (from Idaho) and Christopher Prest (from California) filed a statement (via Power of Attorney) with the USPTO under 37 CFR 3.73(b) to assign the patent application’s entire right, title, and interest to Apple, Inc.

    Alex, in your haste to publish articles to your readership, please avoid statements that assume too much and instead focus on accurate information in your delivery.

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  2. Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    Pretty clever. Maybe we will see this used in conjunction with a fitness device one day.

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  3. They need to make decent headphones first, then put other tech in that, Else its like putting Ferrari’s engine in a tractor.

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