Apple patent points out potential to turn Apple Watch into urgent care device

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Date: Thursday, March 10th, 2016, 07:20
Category: Apple Watch, Hardware, News, Software, Wearables


This is definitely nifty.

A recently published patent application suggests that Apple is working to turn Apple Watch into a full-fledged medical device, one that can monitor a user’s vital signs and automatically send out an alert should they need urgent care.

The application, entitled “Care event detection and alerts” provides for a hardware system capable of monitoring its surrounding environment for so-called “care events,” described as any event that necessitates assistance from medical personnel, police, fire rescue or other emergency technicians. For example, the device could be programmed to monitor a user’s heart for an arrhythmia and, upon detection, send out an alert to family or emergency responders.

While the Apple Watch isn’t specifically mentioned in the application, the device could fulfill the proposed goals. The Apple Watch currently incorporates sensors and processing hardware that could do this as well as features a communications suite that can be used to transmit emergency notifications via iPhone.

For example, if an iPhone’s accelerometer detects a sudden change in acceleration, while Apple Watch no longer detects a heart rate, the system might determine that a user has had a heart attack and is incapacitated. Other examples include car accidents, muggings and other events that can be quantified by onboard accelerometer, heart rate, microphone, GPS and other sensors.

Once a care event is detected, the system sends out alerts to a predefined list of recipients, dubbed the “care list” or “care circle.” Established by the user, or as a phone preset, the care list contains contact information for family members, doctors and general emergency services.

The patent points out that the system needs fine turing to prevent false alarm events. The patent mentions a system of escalating notifications based on severity before alerting the care circle. For example, a user’s spouse or family might populate the first level on the care list and will therefore get the initial alert. In some cases emergency services contacts sit at the highest level and are only notified if the situation escalates or all lower level list recipients fail to respond.

Some embodiments call for customized alerts that contain a user’s relevant medical records (gathered from the Health app or an offsite database), location and other important information. In some cases users — if lucid — can manually dictate what information is disseminated through onscreen cues.

Apple’s care detection and alert patent application was first filed for in September 2015 and credits Martha E. Hankey and James Foster 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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