Google has applied for a patent for a device, potentially a smartwatch, that can remind you to take your medications when you eat. The device could also relay the notification to other devices by way of text message or email reminders.
Two Google employees based in Israel, Asaf Zomet and Michael Shynar, first sought the patent in July 2014, and it was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday.
This is the latest health-related technology to come out of Google, which recently changed the name of Google Life Sciences (a subsidiary of parent company Alphabet) to, more simply, Verily. In November, the USPTO published a patent from Google detailing a surgical system that could remove biological tissue via laser. Also notable: Google’s smart contact lenses for monitoring blood glucose levels.
In this case, Googlers have invented a mechanism that’s smart because it knows when to send its medication notifications. The device has “one or more sensors,” and it figures out when a person is eating, partly using “pre-defined activity data that are indicative of an act of a human consuming an ingestible substance.” Activity data could include the speed and length of a person’s motions and the rotations involved. For example, the actions involved in scooping up soup with a spoon could be familiar to the device, and could be enough to trigger a notification.
A person’s blood sugar level, the sound of the person eating, their location via GPS coordinates, and an image of a their face via a camera could also offer signals to the device. Of course, the time could also be a factor. (For instance, I usually eat lunch between noon and 2 p.m.)
Having many types of signals is important. The device must have a high degree of confidence before sending a notification — just as the Google Maps Your Timeline feature won’t say that you were at a specific place unless it’s very sure that you actually were there.
Of course, the patent is no indication that this smartwatch will ever appear on the market for consumers to buy. But it does prove that two people at Google were thinking about technology that can remind you to take your medications seriously enough to come up with an implementation.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the patent.
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