Today, Apple may dabble in what industry insiders call lifestyle experiences, technology that allows users to monitor their health or improve their life. However, if a newly surfaced patent is indicative of what Apple is moving into next then the company is preparing an all-out assault on the market that’s now dominated by the Nike Fuelband and other wearable sensors with a pair of earbuds that monitor user’s heart rate and could make a perfect companion for the long-rumored iWatch.
Filed as Apple Patent Number 8,655,004, these earbuds include sensors that could allow Apple’s devices to sense body temperature the heart rate and other factors that reveal how much the wearer is moving around and staying active. More specifically, the patent actually focuses on a sensor that can be added to different styles of headphones for the purposes of monitoring users in real-time. Users would be able to manage music playback and other actions by nodding their head. Those nods would be interpreted by a built-in accelerometer.
As AppleInsider points out, the patent also includes psychological sensing technology that would, presumably, allow it to interpret all the information that it’s receiving and come to a conclusion about what sort of mood the wearer is in. From there, it’s not hard to imagine that information could be used to play specific playlists, for example.
Unfortunately, Apple filed the patent in 2008 and it hasn’t shipped anything like this pair of headphones to date. On the other hand, the headphones’s description and potential uses confirm that Apple has at least been experimenting with fitness focused products besides the Nike+ integration that many of its devices already come equipped with. It’s also worth noting that Apple recently hired Jay Blahnik, a former Nike developer who worked on its Fuelband line of wearables. At the time of his hiring, many believed that Apple was gearing up for the iWatch.
Though the device has yet to be confirmed by Apple, most sources have pegged the iWatch as a coming wearabe that will place an emphasis on working out and more. To date, Apple has only confirmed that’s it’s confident about entering new product categories sometime this year.