The Sound of Science: Apple Patents Health Monitoring Headphones
Patent filings are a great way to get a sense of tech firms’ visions for the future, especially when those companies are notoriously secretive. That’s especially true for Apple, whose innovations tend to be ahead of the curve. Today, a post on CNET points the way back to a patent filed by Apple all the way back in 2008, and finally awarded by the USPTO this past Tuesday, for headphones that can monitor a wearer’s health.
The patent calls for a pair of headphones, earbuds, or a headset that, when coming in contact with a wearer’s skin, can “be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities.” That means it’ll be able to read “temperature, perspiration and heart rate,” as well as to “control an electronic device.” How will that happen? Well, the patent says that “the monitoring system facilitates user control of the electronic device using head gestures.”
That might be weird—running along and listening to music, and then flicking your head to one side or the other to answer a phone call or change tracks…
Anyway, the important aspect of this patent filing is how it relates to recent news about Apple’s plans for the near future. Yesterday we posted information gleaned from a report about Apple’s work to use sound to predict heart attacks, and that the company’s execs have been meeting with the FDA about developing devices to monitor people’s health. Before that, we’d heard that an expert had joined Apple to develop tech to monitor users’ sleep cycles.
In short, the evidence is pretty undeniable that Apple is looking to lead the charge on devices that work with people in terms of their lifestyle. Apple has already done a ton to change the way people consume entertainment and enjoy media. It’s not much of a stretch to see a world where they spur more people to taking better care of themselves and are more acutely aware of their bodies and health. Will these headphones ever see the light of day? And if so, will they be the first headphones that listen to you?