Apple patents pedometer, health monitoring headphones, ski tracker

By Aditi Pai
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Skiing Apple PatentApple has made headlines several times in the last few months after rumors about the iWatch were leaked along with several hires. Amidst the hustle to interpret Apple's next moves for its expected iWatch and potential companion health app, several news sources have begun reporting on different Apple patents that might be incorporated into Apple's next device.

Here are several patents that Apple has or filed for in the past couple years. Of course, big companies like Apple file for many patents that never end up making it into a product.

Health sensors in headphones, granted February 18, 2014: This device will be embedded in headphones, earbuds, or other headset devices. Sensors in the device will monitor activity of the user, including biometric data, temperature, precipitation, and heart rate. The headphones might also have the capability, through head gestures, to control a connected device, such as a smartphone. (Sounds a lot like ValencellMore

Smartphone-embedded heart rate monitor, granted December 24, 2013: Apple's embedded heart rate sensor patent says there would be multiple different spots on a smartphone that could detect heart rate. Apple also adds that the sensors will be inside the device so it will be aesthetically appealing. One application of the embedded sensor would be to detect the user's mood. Samsung recently launched a smartphone with a similar heart rate sensor. More

Workout creation tool, granted August 20, 2013: This system allows a user to potentially create workout templates, so if the user wants to go back and do a similar workout to the one he or she already completed, the template exists, which Apple explains would act as a "quick start" feature. This template could be a specific workout goal with associated media, like a cardio-specific playlist. More

Activity monitor for skiers, granted January 8, 2013: We know Apple stores already offers a connected basketball, from Infomotion 94Fifty, for athletes that want to refine their skill and learn more about how they play. Maybe this means Apple's patent for an activity monitor specifically to use while skiing, snowboarding, and snow biking will eventually become a reality. The patent explains the device will detect multiple metrics, including the "air time", speed of the vehicle, time stopped, activity time, average speed, and a history of these metrics. More

Wristworn pedometer, filed September 10, 2012: Because so many wristworn pedometers exist, its important to note how exactly Apple plans to use the device to track steps. The description explains that to detect steps, the device will measure the forces of gravity using the accelerometer. The device will also leverage another filed patent, Techniques for Improved Pedometer Readings, to identify missed steps while running and uneven steps that some pedometers miss. Based on the length of the user's trip, if the amount of time they walked is greater than the amount of time it takes to walk that amount of steps, the pedometer will add the missing steps to the total number. More

Attack detection mode, filed September 5, 2012: Although this is outside of the health and fitness realm, but Apple has filed a patent to help people take precautionary measures for if they got attacked. When a smartphone is in "attack detection mode", it will be on the alert for specific events that suggest there was an attack. Two examples the patent provides are if the user stops interacting with the device or if the device's accelerometer detects a sudden shock. In both cases, in "attack detection mode", the device could put in a call to 911. The device could also be able to emit a loud alarm at the device's maximum volume to alert anyone who is nearby of the attack. More

Method to better integrate two devices, filed July 20, 2011: While this isn't exclusively for health, the patent specifies the system could be used when a smartphone needs to communicate with a heart rate device. In these health related instances, this functionality could be more important. The system allows one device to communicate with a second to sync data between the two even if one device loses the amount of bandwidth it normally needs to send the information. In this system, if there is an issue with sending information, the devices have a backup communication method to send information, like moving from WiFi to Bluetooth, without bothering the user.  More

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