Watch gets health­ier

Ap­ple files patent for tech­nol­ogy that can de­tect heart de­fects and other re­lated is­sues

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - By Rob Mead-Green

Ap­ple patents sen­sor­based pres­sure mon­i­tor.

Ap­ple Watch may one day in­clude tech­nol­ogy that will en­able it to mea­sure your blood pres­sure and de­tect heart de­fects, ac­cord­ing to a patent filed with the US Patent & Trade Of­fice (USPTO).

Nor­mally when hav­ing your blood pres­sure mea­sured, you or your doc­tor use a gauge that in­flates a cuff to tem­po­rar­ily cut off cir­cu­la­tion through an artery, be­fore mon­i­tor­ing the rate at which blood flow re­sumes when the cuff is slowly de­flated. The tech­nol­ogy de­scribed by Ap­ple’s patent does away with that.

The patent for a “Wrist Worn Ac­celerom­e­ter for Pulse Trans­mit Time (PTT) Mea­sure­ments of Blood Pres­sure” de­scribes how a de­vice, such as Ap­ple Watch, could be fit­ted with an ac­celerom­e­ter, a pho­to­plethys­mo­gram (PPG), or a pulse pres­sure sen­sor to de­tect that blood flow, and so en­able you and your physi­cian to rou­tinely mon­i­tor your heart us­ing data gath­ered by the de­vice. To take your blood pres­sure you’ll sim­ply hold a Watch con­tain­ing the ac­celerom­e­ter against your chest to de­tect your heart­beat, and the ex­ist­ing heart rate sen­sor in the Watch will de­tect the pulse in your wrist. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the two – the Pulse Trans­mit Time (PTT) – is then used to cal­cu­late your blood pres­sure and whether you have, or are at risk of, de­vel­op­ing heart prob­lems now or in the fu­ture.

The patent ap­pli­ca­tion has been made pos­si­ble thanks to the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA), which is work­ing on a pi­lot pro­gram with Ap­ple and nine other tech com­pa­nies to fast-track mo­bile in­no­va­tions like this one.

In­ter­est­ingly, the il­lus­tra­tions that ac­com­pany Ap­ple’s patent fil­ing show the ac­celerom­e­ter and the PPG sen­sor as be­ing lo­cated in the Watch’s strap rather than the main hous­ing, which points to all kinds of ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for smart straps mak­ing Ap­ple Watch even more ca­pa­ble than it is now.

Ap­ple Watch al­ready mea­sures your pulse.

Ap­ple Watch is al­ready pop­u­lar for mon­i­tor­ing fit­ness.

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