Apple gets a patent for health-monitoring ear buds
The system could also control mobile devices through gestures
Computerworld - Apple today was awarded a patent for a monitoring system that could be placed in ear buds or other devices to record things such as body temperature, heart rate and perspiration levels.
The patent, first reported by Apple Insider, shows a wearable system designed to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities.
Because the ear buds are in contact with the skin and ear cavities, they can also sense body characteristics and collect that as biometric data.
The monitoring system would not necessarily be permanently attached to ear buds, though it could be. Because the technology could be detachable, it could used on other devices, such as headphones and headsets.
"In still another embodiment, the monitoring system can be provided within a housing attached to a cord utilized by the headphones, earbuds or headsets," the patent summary says. "In yet another embodiment, the monitoring system can be attached to a user's clothing. In these various embodiments, the headphones, earbuds or headsets can be wired or wireless."
The patent states that the activity and health monitoring system can also be used to control an electronic device, such as a smartphone, using one or more head gestures.
The monitoring device would have sensors, such as an accelerometer, a gyroscope, or some other motion sensor that could be used to detect the pitch, roll and/or yaw of a person's head. Using those sensors, a user could input commands to an attached electronic device.
So, by tilting your head to the right, left, backward or forward, or even rotating it to the left or right "an entire head gesture language may be developed," according to the patent.
For example, head gestures could be used to scroll, browse or select a function.
"For example, a rotate head or tilt head to right can cause a next item/page action to the right. Subsequently, holding one's head in the tilted position can cause the speed of the action to increase until head returns to normal position," the patent states. "The head gestures can have various meanings depending on application. For example, the same head gesture can initiate a different action in different applications."
The gestures could be used for binary or analog commands. A binary command could simply change the mobile device from one state to another. An analogue command would change a device function.
"...In one example, a head bobbing can be used in a manner similar to Morse code in order to provide text input commands," the patent states. "Further, 'noise' filtering can be provided so as to reduce erroneous detection of gestures during regular head movements."
Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.
- Assessing ROI for Mobile Acceleration Clients This EMA® paper examines the business case for deploying mobile WAN optimization client software and builds a ROI model based on the experiences...
- The Apple-ization of the Enterprise: Understanding IT's New World Read this paper for how to tackle Apple-ization (and the related consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device/BYOD).
- A Practical Introduction to Enterprise Mobility Management Read the white paper to better understand the basic concepts within mobility management and to learn how you can apply EMM technology to...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!