Apple patent filing for potential new wearable

A new patent application from Apple shows it could be working on a health wearable beyond its Apple Watch.

Filed in July 2016, the application relates to the operation of wearable technology dependent on whether it is being worn or not.

The company is well known for its culture of extreme secrecy around its upcoming products, but the filing reveals where Apple might be heading for its next tech innovation.

A series of diagrams included in the application relate to a number of different wearable configurations, from an armband to a wrist monitor.

apple-armband-patent-diagram

The first figure relates to a heart monitor armband that includes a touchscreen display. The monitor would be in its ‘active’ state only when worn around the user’s bicep. 

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Figures 2A and 2B relate to a generic wristband wearable that activates when ‘closed’.

The application doesn’t mean Apple are creating a new line of wearables for certain, but it does fall in line with its increasing interest in the health sector.

The launch of its original Watch in 2015 and its Watch 2.0 last year were its first real venture into the wearables market, and many believed it could eventually evolve into something more than a simple fitness tracker.

Unfortunately for Apple, both generations of the device have failed to catch on like its ever-popular iPhone line.  Its share of the wearables market is waning in comparison to major competitors Fitbit and Asian company Xiaomi.

Perhaps most intriguing about the patent application is whether the proposed products are for the consumer or medical device market.

At present, the company seems to be veering as close to the healthcare market as possible without its products ever quite falling into the latter category, as demonstrated by its recently released communications with the FDA in regards to a Parkinson’s diagnostic app.

Its only true venture into the healthcare sector has been indirect, with the release of its open software platform ResearchKit which allows researchers to create apps for clinical trial studies.

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