The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a “sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets”. The patent describes a system that would allow for a set of earphones or headphones that could sense a number of health-related metrics including heart rate, temperature and perspiration levels.
The patent shows how the system could be cleverly built into the Apple’s earphones. As well as the aforementioned bodily metrics, it could also measure sport-specific movement data like speed and distance travelled during exercise.
Further, with a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope and other motion sensors, would mean that the wearer could control their iPhone by making gestures with the movement of their head. Motions listed by Apple include tilting your head forwards, backwards, left, right, as well as in a circular motion which could each be linked to an action on the connected iOS device, such as media playback or volume controls.
The patent describes a way for the earphones to distinguish between head gestures that require actions and general movement that would likely occur during exercise.
Interestingly, the patent filing describes the system as being wholly built into the set of earphones, negating the need for an additional piece of hardware, such as the oft-rumored, health-focused iWatch device to track health and fitness data.
Apple patents a number of ideas that never see the light of day. This patent was filed for in August 2008, showing the length of time Apple has at least been interested in the health and fitness space.
The patent credits Christopher Prest and Quin C. Hoellwarth as its inventors.