Earlier this week, it was reported that Apple was venturing out into the world of healthcare. The company has appointed Tomlinson Holman, the genius behind the Lucasfilm THX technology and the 10.2 sound system, as the man to lead this effort.
Apple is said to be looking into a technology that would help in the early detection of heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes when it is being pumped through arteries. It wasn’t clear how Holman fits into the puzzle of Apple’s effort in the healthcare industry, but a patent awarded to Apple may shed some light as to what the Cupertino giant is planning.
Apple has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a biometric headphone system that is able to detect various metrics, such as temperature, heart rate and perspiration levels.
U.S. Patent No. 8,655,004 tackles a “sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets,” and this could very well be the device Apple is working on for the early detection of heart attacks or cardiovascular anomalies.
These tricked out headphones could also serve as a kind of fitness tracker, as activity sensors can be placed in the upper or lower portion of the earbud. This way, you will only need to wear one tiny device for your listening, communicating, fitness and health tracking needs, dismissing the need for separate trackers such as fitness bracelets or clip-ons.
As for Holman’s part in all of this, since he is an expert when it comes to sounds, we can assume that he is the one in charge of the technology that will be able to detect blood sound in the ear and make sense of the data that’s gathered.
This isn’t the first time an earbud being given whole new purpose.
The Dash, a Kickstarter project that has already raised pledges of more than $2 million despite just launching the project, also aims to be the all-in-one device for your daily needs. The Dash is a wireless in-ear headphone that has a built-in MP3 player, and doubles as a Bluetooth headset with its mic, a USB stick, fitness tracker and monitor. It aims to give users total freedom as it works even when your smartphone is not with you. The Dash can store 1000 songs; tracks your movement such as pace, steps, cadence and distance; monitors heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy spent; and real-time acoustic feedback is provided for the user.
If Apple is really working on an earphone that promises to deliver more functions, it better be something that looks something like The Dash or even better.