Apple has been granted three patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for adding new fitness and biometric features to earbuds.
The patents are called “Earbuds with Biometric Sensing”, and follow previous applications from the company for ‘Sports Earpods’ with biometrics built in.
As PatentlyApple reports, in the filing, at least one of the biometric sensors is detailed as being pressed against a part of the ear called the ‘tragus’, which allows the sensor to take biometric measurements.
Related: Apple AirPods
This sensor is a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor, which would measure biometrics by shining light and registering the reflectivity of the light off the skin to detect profusion of the blood through the user’s skin.
In order to ensure contact with the skin, Apple suggests mounting the PPG sensor at the end of an earbud near a speaker opening, which would allow the sensor to make contact with an interior facing surface of the tragus of the ear.
The patents also detail a retaining wall that can be placed at the opposite end of the PPG sensor, to ensure contact with the concha of the ear.
In short it would allow for biometric measurements such as heart rate, VO2, galvanic skin, EKG, impedance cardiography, and temperature, according to Apple.
Also laid out in the filings is a noice cancellation feature that would use three microphones in a triangular configuration to block outside sounds.
Such a method is said to allow for selective noise cancelling, which would mean certain sounds within a 10-20-degree window could be allowed through. Other uses would see all external sound blocked out.
As with all patents, there’s no guarantee the technology in the filings will ever be brought to market, as companies file for patents all the time without neccessarily intending to release a product.
Let us know what you think of the new patents in the comments.