Apple wins another patent that involves smart clothing, smart car seats/chairs

Apple has been granted another patent (number 10,290,520) that involves “smart clothing.” This one is for “fabric-based items with environmental control elements,” and also involves a “smart car seat” and/or chair.

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The “iWear” (my term, not Apple’s) would allow the clothing to conduct the temperature, humidity, and other environment factors in a connected “smart house” based on your biometric state. In the patent filing, Apple notes that people often interact with fabric-based articles. For example, a user may have a fabric-based watch band that wraps around the user's wrist. Clothing articles may come into contact with a user's skin. A car seat in a vehicle may have a fabric-based cover that rests against the passenger's legs and back. 

Apple says that conventional fabric-based articles do not adapt to a person's biometric profile. A person may find a fabric-based article to be comfortable and breathable when the person is at rest, but when emotionally stressed or physically active, the person may find the same article to be restrictive and excessively warm.

A person's emotional or physical state can be negatively affected by a non-responsive fabric that does not adapt to the person's activity or biometric state. Apple says it would “be desirable to be able to provide improved fabric-based items for adapting and responding to a user's biometric profile.”

Here’s the summary of the patent: “A fabric-based item may adapt to and adjust the biometric state of an individual that is wearing or touching the fabric-based item. The fabric-based item may be a cover for a seat in a vehicle, an article of clothing, a wrist band, or other suitable fabric-based item. The fabric-based item may include one or more sensors that gather biometric information about the individual and one or more environmental control devices that adjust or maintain the environment around the individual based on the biometric information. 

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“The sensors may include temperature sensors, humidity sensors, pressure sensors, heart rate sensors, or other sensors that gather biometric information about the user. The environmental control elements may be used to control the temperature, humidity, airflow or other aspect of the environment around the individual based on the biometric state of the individual.”

Similar patent filings by Apple include number 10,254,840, number 10,286,636, number 20190136423, number 20180181204, number 10,156,029, number 20190013275, and number 20190013274.

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.