Apple patent hints at wearable devices beyond the Apple Watch

Apple is considering other wearable devices beyond the Apple Watch. The company has filed for a patent (number 20160228025) for a “method of detecting the wearing limb of a wearable electronic device.” An Apple Ring or Apple Pendant, anyone?

The invention is for a wearable device configured to acquire and process electrocardiographic measurements. In the patent filing, Apple notes that computing devices such as desktop computers, laptop computers, mobile phones, smartphones, watches, tablet devices and portable multimedia players are popular. These computing devices can be used for performing a wide variety of tasks. As an example, some portable computing devices can have electrocardiographic functionality with various kinds or types of electrodes configured to be worn or attached to identified locations on the human body for the purpose of making measurements of the electrical activity of the human heart.

A portable computing device can be fashioned into a wearable accessory that can be worn on the body. Examples of a wearable device can include a watch, a ring, a pendant, a brooch, a wrist-band or wrist band, a pendant, a bracelet, etc. A wearable device can be affixed to a limb of the human body such as a wrist or ankle, as an example. 

The wearable device can be worn on the left or right wrist, or even on the right or left ankle. Since electrocardiographic measurements can depend on the electrode's relative position to the heart being measured, and since the electrodes can be affixed to the wearable device, changing the device's location from right to left, or wrist to ankle, can have an impact on the acquired electrocardiographic measurements. As an example, wearing the device on the left wrist vs. wearing the device on the right wrist can produce electrocardiographic measurements that are inverted relative to one another.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.