Future AirPods may serve as a sports monitoring system

Future AirPods might track your heart rate and more, then transmit the data to an Apple Watch or iPhone. Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170010858) for a “sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds, and/or headsets.” 

According to the patent, the monitoring system can be used with headphones, earbuds or headsets. It can, for example, be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities. The positioning of the monitoring system can also track biometric data such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate. The monitoring system can also be used to control a an electronic device. In one embodiment, the monitoring system facilitates user control of the electronic device using head gestures.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, conventionally, pedometers have been worn (e.g., attached to a wrist or to a user's hip) to monitor and display a distance traveled by a user. More recently, accelerometers have been provided within a user's shoe to measure distance and speed traveled by the user while walking or running. Apple thinks this methodology could apply to earbuds and headsets.

When it comes to wearables, Apple has also been granted a patent (2017007183) for a sports armband. The patent, dubbed “wearing dependent operation of wearable device,” is for a device that attaches to your body.

Sports Armband.jpg

One or more sensors located in the device detect the user's body part. It would offer connected and disconnected states. In the connected state, it could, for example, serve as a heart rate monitor based on photoplethysmographic sensors or electrocardiographic sensors and detect and monitor the user's heart rate and/or similar operations that require the user to be wearing the wearable device.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. 

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.