Apple is considering other health-related wearable devices beyond the Apple Watch. The tech giant has filed for a patent (number 20200060617) for “wearing independent operation of a wearable device.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that wearable devices, such as heart rate or other fitness monitors, may be operable in connected and disconnected states. The connected state may be for operation when the wearable device is worn by a user. Similarly, the disconnected state may be for operation when the wearable device is not worn by a user. The disconnected state may permit download or display of data, user input and the like, but may not provide active monitoring functions that are provided while being worn, as one example.
In the connected state, a wearable device such as heart rate monitor based on photoplethysmographic sensors or electrocardiographic sensors may be operable to detect and monitor the user’s heart rate and/or similar operations that require the user to be wearing the wearable device. In the disconnected state, such a wearable device may be configured by the user and/or perform other operations that do not require the user to be wearing the wearable device.
In order for such a wearable device to operate properly in either the connected or disconnected state, the wearable device may need to be aware which state it should be operating in. This may require the wearable device to be aware or sense whether or not the user is currently wearing the wearable device. In some cases, a user may enter input (such as via a touch screen, one or more buttons, and/or one or more other input/output mechanisms) to indicate to the wearable device whether the user is currently wearing the wearable device or not.
Apple says that, however, requiring the user to enter input to change the state of the wearable device may be inconvenient and/or burdensome. The company wants to change this if/when it releases such devices.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent filing: “A wearable device that attaches to a body part of a user via an attachment member operates in at least a connected and a disconnected state. One or more sensors located in the wearable device and/or the attachment member detect the user’s body part when present.
“Such detection may only be performed when the attachment member is in a connected configuration and may be used to switch the wearable device between the connected and disconnected states. In this way, the wearable device operates in the connected state when worn by a user and in the disconnected state when not worn by the user.”