Apple wants to beef up the swimming features of the Apple Watch

Apple wants to enhance the swimming features of the Apple Watch, as evidenced by two new patent filings. The first (number 20180056129) is for “systems and methods of swimming calorimetry.”

It involves systems and methods of estimating energy expenditure of a user while swimming. A processor circuit of a user device can estimate a speed of the user based on a stroke rate and a stroke length. The processor circuit can estimate an efficiency of the user. 

The processor circuit can classify a swimming style of the user. The processor circuit can determine energy expenditure of the user based on the speed, the efficiency, and the style. The processor circuit can also detect glides of the user and adjust the energy expenditure.

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The second patent (number 20180056123) is for “systems and methods of swimming analysis.” Systems and methods of analyzing a user's motion during a swimming session are described. One or more motions sensors can collect motion data of the user. A processor circuit can make motion analysis based on the motion data. The processor circuit can determine if the user's arm swing is a genuine swim stroke. The processor circuit can also determine whether the user is swimming or turning. The processor circuit can also classify the user's swim stroke style. The processor circuit can also determine the user's swim stroke phase. The processor circuit can also determine the user's stroke orbit consistency.

In the patent filings, Apple notes that when a user is swimming, there is often a need to know many factors related to the swimming session, such as total distances, number of laps, swimming styles, stroke consistency, and/or energy expenditure. It is, however, generally difficult to estimate how many calories a user burns during a swimming session because energy expenditure depends on many factors such as speed, efficiency, swimming style, etc. 

Particularly, glides and strokes can correspond to different energy consumption rates, and ignoring glides can cause overestimates in energy expenditure. Apple wants to provide methods and systems for estimating energy expenditure of a user while swimming. 

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.