The computing giant recently obtained a pair of new patents, one related to hover touch sensors and the other an integrated heart rate monitor that might be included in some of the company’s 2014 product launches. The cardiac sensor can be positioned at a number of positions on a device, based on the patent application, including portions coming into contact with the user’s skin.
This functionality could be especially useful for the company’s fabled iWatch. After Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was seen wearing the Nike's Fuelband in 2013, rumors began to crop up that the yet-to-be-released iWatch would feature health-monitoring functionality. In the past, however, Apple has shied away from introducing products related to healthcare, leaving that task to third parties. Nevertheless, the company incorporated activity monitoring functionality into the iPhone 5S.
The heart monitor could be used as a biometric security feature, in addition to its Touch ID functionality, which debuted with the iPhone 5S, which enables users to log onto the phone using a fingerprint instead of a password.
According to the patent application, the heart monitor could also be used to gauge a user's mood with cardiac data.
The idea using mobile devices as a platform for ECG technology goes back to the early 1990s. FDA gave 510(k) clearance to the Rhythm-Stat XL palm-held ECG system in 1997.
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