Apple applies for patent on wearable ECG device as watch, ring, brooch or similar


Patently Apple reports that Apple has applied for a patent related to a wearable electrocardiographic (ECG) device that could take the form of a watch, ring, brooch or similar.

A wearable device can be affixed to a limb of the human body such as a wrist or ankle, as an example. The wearable device can be worn on the left or right wrist, or even on the right or left ankle.

The reason the patent application emphasizes use on either left or right side of the body is that the patent focuses on an issue that can arise when taking readings from only one side of the body …

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Since electrocardiographic measurements can depend on the electrode’s relative position to the heart being measured, and since the electrodes can be affixed to the wearable device, changing the device’s location from right to left, or wrist to ankle, can have an impact on the acquired electrocardiographic measurements. As an example, wearing the device on the left wrist vs. wearing the device on the right wrist can produce electrocardiographic measurements that are inverted relative to one another.

The device Apple describes can recognise when readings are inverted, and automatically correct them. Readings are taken by placing a finger on a surface electrode.

The patent outlines a calibration phase, in which the user is initially prompted to take readings from a variety of locations on their body – such as left wrist with right finger and right leg with left finger – to achieve baseline readings from which it can interpret subsequent tests.

Our usual disclaimer applies: just because Apple patents something doesn’t mean it will ever make it into product form. The company does, though, have a keen interest in the health field, with Tim Cook last year hinting at new health-related hardware. He said then that the company didn’t want Apple Watch innovation held up by the need for FDA approvals, hence the appeal of separate hardware.

Just a few days ago, a vaguely-worded Chinese report claimed that Apple was working on a new ‘killer device’ in the health field

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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