Gadgets

New Apple pedometer patent may hint at a future iWatch

Apple patent application drawing

Above: Apple patent application drawing

A newly published Apple patent application that details ways to improve a wrist-based pedometer could represent another piece of evidence pointing to an iWatch.

The application, “Wrist Pedometer Step Detection,” came out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today. This is part of the standard patent process toward issuance. It details ways to improve step detection when someone is wearing a pedometer on a wrist.

In the patent application’s implementation, the pedometer might be able to “automatically determine that the pedometer is being worn on a user’s wrist.”

Pedometers, the application points out, are often attached to a user’s trunk – on the waist or pants or shirt pocket. A commonly used algorithm to measures steps, however, doesn’t work as well when the pedometer is on a wrist, because the arm’s movement can interfere with the measurement of acceleration.


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Apple’s patent application would overcome this by filtering the measured movement or inferring steps from previous measurements, leading to more accurate step counts and distance estimation. Additionally, the document notes, “users do not have to specify where the pedometer is being worn” because the software will compensate.

Apple already offers a wrist-based pedometer, built into the iPod Nano since its 5th generation. Wrist-based pedometers on the market include models from Nike.

The patent’s listed inventor, Yash Modi, worked on iPod-related pedometers when he was at Apple, which he left in 2012. So this application doesn’t point to anything new in Apple’s interests.

If Apple is working on an iWatch, it may also be working on a variety of iWearables. If anything, this patent points to Apple’s interest in step-tracking wearables that could live anywhere on the body.

More information:

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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