Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2016, 14:20
Category: Apple, Hardware, News, Patents
Apple may in fact be working on an EEG device or functionality.
A recently published Apple patent application filing for an electrocardiogram device suitable for consumer use reinforces the company’s continued moves into the healthcare monitoring business.
The patent application addresses a wearable, not specifically the Apple Watch, that can be used on any limb of the body, and compensates automatically for differences in electrocardiographic measurements on side of the body, or distance from the heart. The measurement is started by the user pressing a surface electrode on the device, with the measurements and data correction necessary taking place after a period of measurement.
There’s no direct sign of the Apple Watch within the filing and the device is replaced by a generic graphic of a wearable technology in the diagrams.
A rumor on Tuesday suggested that Apple was looking at developing an entirely new piece of health-tracking hardware for a launch in 2017. The report pointed to a product that would “accurately collect users’ personal daily life including heart rate, pulse, blood sugar changes and other information.”
The report suggests that the monitoring device could incorporate something akin to the Apple Watch reading data from a required “surface electrode”, which could be installed elsewhere or in part of a device like an iPhone.
With this patent application, coupled with previous remarks by CEO Tim Cook, Apple appears to have wider plans for wearable technology, beyond the Apple Watch implementation of simple biometric measurement, with HealthKit and ResearchKit. In November 2015, CEO Tim Cook said that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of sensors subject to health regulations would “hold us back from innovating too much” as “the cycles are too long” for approval by the government agency.
The Apple Watch currently features a heart rate sensor that has been used as a pulse oximeter in other medical-grade devices. The functionality is not enabled at this time, but would require FDA approval for use by consumers as a health monitoring device, as would an Apple-branded electrocardiogram technology device implementation.
Back in May, Apple was looking to hire an attorney with experience regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as assorted privacy issues. HIPAA-based law features very specific rules regarding the handling of patient records and data store in a facility or on a device, and “in motion” between repositories, such as between an iPhone, and a server bank.
At present, even with HealthKit and ResearchKit, there is nearly nothing involving consumers and the Apple Watch that falls under the auspices of HIPAA, as the sensors on the watch have not been certified for medical use.
Still, this could lead to some interesting stuff coming down the pipe.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.