Apple wants to beef up its ski tracking features on the Apple Watch

Apple wants to beef up its ski tracking features on the Apple Watch. The company has filed for a patent (number 20190076063) for “systems and methods of ski activity detection.”

In the patent filing, Apple says that, during a typical ski day, a skier may spend many hours at a ski area, while actively skiing for only a fraction of that time. Between ski runs, the skier may spend a significant amount of time riding lifts, taking breaks, or otherwise being inactive. 

Due to, for example, size and cost constraints, cost, the battery capacity of a wearable device may be such that it is not possible to run the device at full power for a full ski day without having to recharge the device's battery. Certain components of the wearable device--such as the main processor, Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, and cellular module--can draw a particularly high amount of power. 

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Apple’s invention would detect when the user is riding a lift, taking a lunch break, or otherwise being inactive, and, in response, selectively power down certain components of the wearable device. When the user resumes skiing, the systems and methods can automatically return power (or "wake up") to these components so as to accurately track the user's ski activity.

The disclosure includes techniques for preventing waking up components too soon (i.e., preventing "false positives"), further conserving battery charge. Using the systems, methods, and techniques disclosed herein, a wearable device may track ski activity over a full ski day. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “The present disclosure relates to a system and method for improving an accuracy of a wearable device while detecting a ski activity by a user at a ski area. In one aspect, the method can include receiving motion data of the user from a motion sensing module of the wearable device. A heart rate sensing module can measure a heart rate of the user. 

“One or more processor circuits can detect the user is gripping ski poles on a substantially flat ground based on the motion data and the heart rate of the user. The one or more processor circuits can calculate information about the user's performance during the ski activity and output the information about the user's performance during the ski activity.”

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.