Sensors described in the European Patent Office filing could be placed underneath the user's mattress or pillow.

Apple acquires patent rights for in-bed health sensor system

By Dave Muoio
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Apple has acquired the worldwide rights to a patent describing a means of monitoring a user’s health while they sleep, without the use of a smart device like the iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

The patent, registered with the European Patent Office and spotted yesterday by Patently Apple, incorporates sensors placed near or remote to the patient to monitor individual, environmental, physiological and other parameters.

These data would then be transmitted to a processor and analyzed “to provide a personalized assessment of control of a disease state, such as asthma, which can then be used by patients, their families and/or healthcare professionals, to improve clinical outcomes.” The patent goes on to describe embodiments of the system that could include review by a healthcare service provider, who would then provide the user with recommendations on improving their condition through a number of potential modalities, including mobile applications, phone calls, video calls, EHR alerts and more.

Illustrations and descriptions included within the patent also suggest that the system’s sensors could be placed underneath the user’s mattress or beneath their pillow. In addition, the description notes that the system could be configured to distinguish conflicting signals from a second person using the bed.

WHY IT MATTERS

Practical applications of under-the-mattress health sensors make a lot of sense for Apple, seeing as the company acquired Beddit, a sleep health startup powered by a mattress pad sensor, back in 2017. So far the Silicon Valley company has not yet taken the plunge into sleep health or similar devices, although a late-2018 FCC filing and other rumors suggest that the company still has an eye on this market.

In a broader sense, a new platform for disease monitoring also fits into the company’s increasing focus on consumer health. CEO Tim Cook and Health VP Dr. Sumbul Desai have both been on the record as of late discussing how Apple could make a lasting impact on wellness and chronic disease management.

WHAT’S THE TREND

Apple’s health moves within the last quarter alone include the rollout of the Apple Watch Series 4’s ECG functionality to Hong Kong and 19 European countries, the release of the Apple Heart Study’s findings, and the continued adoption of its personal health records platform by the Department of Veterans Affairs and others. What’s more, the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is just around the corner and rumored to highlight new support for hearing aids, hearing health, women’s health and medication adherence reminders.

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