Image source: Pxhere

Apple bags patent for Apple Watch compatible electrocardiogram armband

Apple has snagged a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a cardiac monitoring armband that works in conjunction with the Apple Watch.

As originally spotted by Patently Apple, the company filed for the patent back in September 2018. The filing is registered with the moniker 11,083,383. Interestingly, only there months after that the first Apple Watch with ECG was introduced.

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However, the device in question is a much more sophisticated and accurate take on the wrist-based ECG functionality. Therefore it would probably be a better fit for those with known heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems and those born with heart defects. We’re not sure whether the data would be medical grade as the patent does not go into this detail.

What it does reveal is that the cardiac monitor device would look very much like heart rate armbands that can be purchased today. In the past those that wanted more precise heart rate measurements had to wear chest straps. Advances in tech mean that these types of devices now can work with the same accuracy from the upper and lower arm.

Apple’s product very much adopts this form factor. The difference is that instead of just capturing the heart rate, this device is able to detect the electric field of the heart. This is done via a single electrode as shown below (denoted by number 112).


Apple bags patent for Apple Watch compatible cardiac monitoring armband

Because electrocardiogram devices need a circuit in order to complete a reading, Apple’s patent details an antenna that serves as a workaround for the second electrode. It can be found on the opposite end of the armband (110 in chart). In essence the antenna forms a capacitor with the heart through something referred to as capacitive coupling.

“An exemplary cardiac monitor device can include an electrode that is configured to be in contact with a limb of a user. The cardiac monitor device can also include an antenna that is capacitively coupled with the body of the user using air as the dielectric. The antenna can serve to replace a second electrode.”, the patent reads.

The armband does not have a built-in display, but it can transfer data wirelessly to a range of devices. The patent writes that one of these could be the Apple Watch. The data could be analysed from and displayed by the wearable. Functionality could also be added to send commands to the armband from the watch.

The data would be collected and charted over days, weeks and months. AI would analyse the user’s heart health condition based on electrical info from the armband monitor.

Whether or not we actually see this device in real-life remains to be seen. Apple files numerous patents, some of which never see the light of day. Even if we do see it, the device does not seem to be for the mass market. However, we can imagine it being prescribed by doctors to those with known heart problems.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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