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Apple envisions a future where clothes inform and mold your workouts

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A newly granted Apple (s aapl) patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday and uncovered by Patently Apple describes a system through which your clothing could talk to your iPhone to help it create tailored workouts that know you better than you know yourself.

The system in the patent seems to build off the existing tech in the Nike+ (s nke) workout tracking system that is currently built into some iPods and iOS devices. It goes further than the existing tech, however, thanks to additional sensors, which gather a lot more information than the basic Nike+ sensor, including details about how your foot falls during a running stride, and relay that info back to a central database that tracks lifetime garment usage.

Apple also talks about how the system could be used in more than just sneakers, such as in garments like shirts and shorts, in order to make it usable for additional activities like skiing, skating or swimming. Sophisticated sensors would provide enough feedback to help a receiver device, like an iPhone, provide the best possible training regimen or workout routine to users in order to help them reach the next level or meet current fitness goals.

Apple is rumored to be working on wearable devices, according to a recent New York Times report, and devices that track a user’s fitness, activity and other personal data are becoming a hot commodity, as we saw with the popular though ultimately flawed Jawbone UP and as Kevin saw at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Providing a system where the very clothes you wear are also the data-gathering components of a whole-body monitoring system would definitely help Apple stay on top of this trend.

2 Responses to “Apple envisions a future where clothes inform and mold your workouts”

  1. Michael W. Perry

    A responsibly run patent office would have rejected this patent as both obvious and cluttered with prior art. Our current patent office is run of, by and for patent lawyers. More patents mean more billable hours. It’s that simple.

    Apply is playing a game it ought to be fighting. Over the long run these sorts of patents and the costly legal disputes they result in will severely harm our ability to drive our economy with innovative and creative new ideas. We’re already seeing that in all the legal disputes surrounding tablets. Rather than working to create the best tablet at the best price, Apple and others are trying to drive other tablet makers from the marketplace with court injunctions.

    Years ago, conservative commentator William Buckley criticized a liberal law professor for using legal loopholes to put violent criminals out on the street. The professor defended himself not by claiming his clients were innocent but by arguing that, as a lawyer he had a professional responsibility to use every trick in the book to get his client free. Buckley’s reply to that fits this situation perfectly. He pointed out that the professor didn’t spend all his time defending thugs. He could have spent some of his time and talent closing those foul loopholes.

    The same principle applies here. Apple’s lawyers should be doing more than glutting a broken system with their own dubious patents. It should be working to fix a broken USPTO and devoting at least a quarter of its legal budget to creating a patent climate that rewards rather than discourages innovation.