Apple granted patent for health-monitoring earphones with motion detection
In January, we wrote about LG's Lifeband Touch and its companion pair of ear-phones. The HeartRate buds, which will debut in the first half of 2014, are the first of their kind. They will monitor your vital signs through your ears and simultaneously pump them full of music. The concept is innovative, and now we learn that not only LG has been interested in it.
Yesterday, the USPTO granted Apple a patent for earphones and headphones with embedded sensors, which the iPhone maker filed back in 2007. They include motion detection for music-related gesture controls. The processing is handled by a module simply called “monitoring system”. It can be worn on the user's body (clothes), attached to a digital device (stationary or mobile), or built into a headset. Perhaps the invention was conceived with the iPod in mind, which was a big seller for Apple back in the day.
The iPod Touch could have paired nicely with the biometric earphones, but Cupertino was smart to wait for the appropriate moment. Right now, health monitoring is opening up a new market niche within the world of smart technology, and Apple will be seeking to dominate it. Recent reports have revealed that the company has been meeting with FDA experts in the field of regulation and approval for medical apps and devices. It's also confirmed that the upcoming Apple iWatch will include health-monitoring sensors. Furthermore, a health app, codenamed Healthbook, is under development for release with iOS 8.
The biometric earphones are just another step in a direction that Apple has been following for much longer than expected. However, it will be interesting to see whether LG's competing product will spark another unhealthy patent battle.