New Apple patents hint at iWatch and wearable features

Jun 20, 2014
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New Apple patents hint at iWatch and wearable features

The USPTO has just published three new patents filed by Apple way back in 2012 detailing smart, adaptive, and sensor-based features. While some of these can almost fit any type of smart device, even an iPhone itself, they do make more sense when put inside the context of a wearable apparatus, perhaps the fabled iWatch.

The first patent is titled "Method and Apparatus For Personal Characterization Data Collection Using Sensors", but to make it short, it is basically a scorecard keeping system using data gathered from sensors. Here, a hub, mentioned to be a smartphone, can obtain data from sensors which may be worn by a user, in short, a wearable device. Such raw data can then be used to generate a scorecard that is then sent to some remote server. One example given is using this system for monitoring a person's lifestyle and activities, making suggestions and reminders when those activities have been noticeably declining. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it is practically what a lot of smart fitness bands these days do.

But while the first patent is a bit generic and can even be used for a smartphone by itself, the second and third definitely have wearable devices in mind. "Method and Apparatus for Automatically Setting Alarms and Notifications" talks about how a smartphone can change its own settings depending on data coming from sensors, which may be worn by the user according to the patent. One example that was given is turning some alarms on or off if the data from the sensors show that the user is sleeping. Practically an Do Not Disturb feature that can be automatically disabled or enabled depending on the wearable device's sensors. One interesting feature mention in this patent is how two wearable devices, or devices with sensors, can communicate their own users' state and adjust accordingly. This, for example, can be used to automatically put User A's phone in silent or vibrate mode if the wearable determines that User B, who is in the same room, is sleeping.

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Finally, the third patent, which talks about a "Method and Apparatus for Automatically Repeating Alarms and Notifications in Response to Device Motion" further cements the concept of a wearable device. Again, the use case of a Do Not Disturb mode and sleep are used as examples. Using the second patent, the smartphone determines that the user is sleeping based on sensor data and activate Do Not Disturb mode. But if the sensors then indicate some prolonged movement, it will infer that the user has woken up, perhaps to check the smartphone, and will cancel Do Not Disturb and replay notifications. However, if movement is only slight, possibly indicating just a shift in position, the mode is not canceled and notifications are held back.

Of course, patents are no assurance that they will be come incorporated into an actual product, much less that an actual product is coming. Given the date of filing, however, they do show how long Apple has already been working on wearable device designs and features. With the revelation of health features in iOS 8 and the build-up of iWatch rumors, the latest of which points to an October unveiling, these three patents could stoke the fires of hope of an Apple wearable that is not only tastefully designed but also a lot smarter than your average smartwatch.

VIA: Apple Insider


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