What you need to know
- An Apple patent has revealed how smart clothing could be used to measure health vitals
- The patent was published Thursday by USPTO.
- The patent covers circuitry within clothing including sensors that could measure health vitals such as ECG, blood pressure, respiration and more.
An Apple patent published yesterday, and reported on by Patently Apple could potentially signal that Apple is working on ways to include integrated circuitry in clothing that could measure health data. Specifically, it covers the idea of a stretchable band integrated into the fabric of a garment for monitoring of health data.
The patent is titled "Fabric-Based Items With Stretchable Bands" and the abstract states:
According to the report from Patently Apple, it seems that the technology could be used in smart clothing (and accessories) to "measure health vitals and even provide another way for taking an ECG and much more. It may even work in concert with Apple Watch to take more accurate ECG readings." Patently Apple also notes that one of listed inventors is none other than Daniel Podhajny, who worked on Nike's Flyknit material and is listed in several patents related to it. Indeed, it is stated within the filing that "This relates generally to items with fabric and, more particularly, to items with stretchable fabric."
Whilst the idea of wearable, smart clothing sounds fantastic, the most obvious problem would seem to be keeping it clean... Just ask anyone who has put their old iPhone through a washer/dryer. Within the body of the patent, there are provisions made so that the fabric-based technology could sustain "relatively high temperatures such as those associated with laundering of clothing", and the dangers of water.
Like the Apple Watch needs iPhone, wearable tech would need a hub device to connect to, and the summary notes that the circuitry would include wireless communications tech within the fabric-based item, so as to allow communication with "external electronic equipment", which could perhaps be a phone or a watch.
As always, a published Apple patent is not confirmation of future Apple tech, however the idea that one day we might be able to wear clothes that measure our vital signs is fascinating. Wearable tech is not new by any means, but the idea that sensors and circuitry could be integrated into the fabric of our clothes is certainly a fascinating prospect. The only question that remains is at which stage of the laundering process does one charge your workout t-shirt?
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9