New Apple Patent Offers More iWatch Evidence



More evidence to support the rumors that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is developing an iWatch with health-monitoring capabilities has emerged in the form of another wearable tech device patent. In a recently published patent uncovered by AppleInsider, Apple outlined an improved method for detecting a user’s steps through a wrist-worn pedometer.

In the patent titled “Wrist Pedometer Step Detection,” Apple noted that pedometers use built-in motion sensors, such as accelerometers, to determine when a user takes a step. However, the signals that are received from the motion sensors can vary greatly depending on where the pedometer is attached to the user’s body. Many devices require users to specify where the device is attached on their body in order to adjust the algorithm it uses to interpret the motion data.

As noted by Apple, deriving accurate step detection data from a pedometer worn on the wrist can be especially problematic. “[T]he swinging of the user’s arm and the swinging of the pedometer makes step detection more difficult than when the pedometer is attached to the user’s trunk,” said Apple. “For example, as the user is walking, the user will be swinging the user’s arms and generating forces that get detected by the pedometer. The forces generated by swinging the user’s arms can counteract or mix with the forces generated by taking a step. For example, the acceleration of the user’s arm can be opposite of the acceleration of the user’s step off the ground resulting in the pedometer failing to detect and count the step.”

However, Apple’s invention uses the motion data obtained from the pedometer to determine several comparison thresholds. By analyzing the various threshold crossings, the device is able to determine if it has missed counting a step and add the missing step to its count.

Unlike many other pedometers, some implementations of Apple’s device will also automatically detect if it is being worn on a user’s wrist. By comparing the dominant frequency of the motion sensor data to the actual step frequency, or cadence, of a user’s steps, the device is able to determine if it is being worn on the user’s wrist.

Although it is not known if the iPhone maker has any plans to implement this technology into an upcoming device, various unsubstantiated rumors and several recent Apple hires suggest that the California-based company is working on some type of wearable tech device with health-monitoring functions. Insider sources cited by 9to5Mac have indicated that Apple has assembled a wearable tech product development team with medical sensor experts. Many industry commentators believe Apple’s rumored wearable tech device will be the so-called “iWatch.” Former Apple employee Bruce Tognazzini recently told CNBC that “the iWatch is coming and it will be transformative.”

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