Apple awarded sleep tracking patent, seeks to alter alarm patterns as needed

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Date: Wednesday, June 28th, 2017, 05:32
Category: Apple Watch, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software, Wearables

A new patent granted to Apple on Tuesday outlines how Apple’s iOS-based devices will help monitor your sleep patterns.

Patent number 9,692,874 for “Adjusting alarms based on sleep onset latency” describes a method of automatically configuring alarms using data gathered by personal mobile devices.

In most cases, users will set alarms to wake up as needed. In cases where they don’t immediately fall asleep, Apple has referred to the disparity between intended sleep time and actual sleep time as sleep onset latency, a problem the company believes can be alleviated with modern technology.


The patent describes using devices such as accelerometers, heart rate sensors, microphones and more, alongside advanced computational algorithms to create a form of logic. The resulting system would be capable of determining a user’s sleep ritual, intent to sleep and actual sleep time.

Apple’s patent also describes using onboard sensors to help determine the user’s sleep ritual, or activities prior to bed each night. Some activities might include brushing one’s teeth, closing the blinds, closing doors or taking a shower prior to sleep. With the onboard technologies, an iOS-based device could detect sound, motion or light sensor to determine sleep ritual behavior and sleep intent.

Finally, to detect sleep, the invention relies on both sensor data and basic logic. For example, a device might determine a user is asleep by monitoring their heart rate, breathing rate or movement. Alternatively, if a user is interacting with their device — touching its screen, viewing a movie — the sleep logic can determine that the person is still awake.

The gathered information could be used to adjust, push back or activate a previously set alarm, providing adequate or additional sleep time for the end user. Also, apps like Calendar can be queried for upcoming appointments, which might further adjust wake-up alarm time.

The system also builds in smart reminders for attaining sleep goals, as well as napping functions to catch up on sleep during the day.

Apple describes the end goal as helping users feel more rested than they might via traditional alarms.

For users following up on this, Apple has already integrated part of this functionality into a barebones sleep tracking feature called “Bedtime,” which is currently part of iOS 10 and allows users to adjust the number of hours of sleep they get per night using a graphical slider mechanism.

The patent was first filed for in September 2015 and credits Roy J. Raymann, Wren N. Dougherty, Divya Nag, Deborah M. Lambert, Stephanie Greer and Thomas R. Gruber as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office

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