It may be a matter of time before Apple launches a serious health tracking wearable, especially as the Apple Watch Series 3 with a built-in optical heart-rate sensor has seemingly been a huge hit for the company.
Health sensors have become a large part of Apple’s hardware over the last few years. Back in 2017, Apple proved it was serious about filling out its fitness chops when it acquired Beddit, a successful sleep-tracking app.
Way back in 2016, Apple applied for a patent called “Apple Invents a New Health Wearable Device That Measures Electrocardiogram Signals”. That patent has finally been granted, and it hints at a future of Apple wearables beyond the Apple Watch, reports Wareable.
According to the patent, described back then, it covers a wearable that the user wouldn’t just wear on their wrist, but also on either ankle. The device would identify which limb it was on and collect electrocardiogram (ECG) readings.
The device is able to perform calculations to adjust the ECG readings to make sure they’re correct, the patent said. Because it can collect data from either wrist or either ankle, the device needs to make sure it’s consistent. The user shouldn’t want to put it on the ankle and get one ECG reading and then put it on the wrist and get another one. The device basically levels them out and provides a true ECG reading that the user doesn’t have to think about, the Wareable report said.
For health-tracking devices, it is common to have a specialized processor dedicated only to the task of monitoring heart and other data – otherwise known as an “application-specific integrated circuit”, or “ASIC”. This chip takes the load off of the main chip, leaving the main processor to power other parts of the device.
The Cupertino tech giant has previously bought these chips from a third-party supplier. Instead of creating its own, Apple bought ASICs from Broadcom for its Apple Watch Series 3. Now, it seems the company wants to commit itself to further health-related features by manufacturing these dedicated processor chips in-house.
Now, we aren’t sure if this patented new wearable will ever see the light of day. It’s certainly possible that Apple could make a more dedicated health wearable, especially because selling a mass market device that goes through FDA regulations would be quite a pain for the company.
However, back in October 2017 it was reported that Apple was already working on an Apple Watch with a built-in ECG. We don’t exactly know when that ECG sensor could make its way onto an Apple Watch.