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Apple wearable tags described in disguised patent application

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A patent application for Apple wearable tags has been revealed, after the company originally took steps to disguise its identity.

Apple describes how tags could be worn on the body, or attached to clothing, to perform a wide range of health and sports functions …

Patently Apple spotted the patent application originally filed back in 2020, but only published last week.

In a newly discovered patent application in Europe this morning, Apple describes an iPhone that could communicate with wearable tags that may be placed on different parts of a user’s body or clothing and may be used for one or more health-related functions such as posture monitoring, sun exposure monitoring, physical therapy, running assistance, fall detection, fitness/activity tracking, motion tracking, medical applications, biometric applications, personal training, and other functions.

The site notes that Apple went to some lengths to keep the application quiet.

Although Apple’s patent dates back to 2020, it was filed under the names of Apple’s engineers and not Apple the company so as to avoid being detected in the U.S.. When the patent is finally granted, Apple’s name will officially appear on the U.S. patent.

However, now that the application has been published, the applicant is listed as Apple rather than the engineers.

The Apple Watch can already perform fitness and activity tracking, of course, but it sounds like the idea here is to provide far more detailed analysis of things like running gait, golf or tennis swing, and similar.

This isn’t a new idea: the first example of this I can recall dates back to 2013.

Zepp Labs has now taken the concept one step further with a small, lightweight sensor that captures data on your baseball, golf or tennis swing, providing an instant analysis and data-logging. The 6g sensor attaches to a glove, and contains two accelerometers, a gyroscope and compass.

Apple was also granted a patent for a smart band with similar functionality, back in 2019.

In baseball or golf, for example, strain gauges could be used to analyze the grip, and accelerometers and barometric sensors used to analyze the swing.

There’s a growing market for this kind of data-driven approach to sports skills, using a variety of different methods. These include body-worn sensors, club-mounted sensors, video analysis kit, radar systems, and even – I kid you not – golf shoe insole sensor pads.

As always, we note that Apple patents a huge number of things, only a small number of which are ever launched. The company has moved into the health area in a pretty big way, so more health sensors seems plausible, though I’d imagine the end-game would be to incorporate these into the Apple Watch rather than have standalone wearable tags.

Photo: Gary Butterfield/Unsplash

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