Apple Watch Patent Turns Device into Urgent Care Alert System

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An Apple patent application that could turn the Apple Watch into a fully fledged medical device was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday.

The application, titled "Care event detection and alerts", envisions a hardware system with the ability to monitor the surrounding environment for events that would require assistance from medical professionals, police, fire rescue or other emergency services.

health care patent
In one example, the device could be programmed to monitor a user's heart for arrhythmia and send out an alert to a spouse or emergency responder in the event of detection.

As noted by AppleInsider, the Apple Watch is not specifically mentioned in the document, but the device would likely fit the requirements of the system's goals, thanks to its advanced sensors and monitoring hardware.

In practice, a wearable and a host device could work in combination to detect a care event. For instance, an iPhone's accelerometer might detect a sudden change in acceleration in tandem with a loss of heart rate detection on an Apple Watch, signaling a cardiac arrest.

When a care event is detected, an alert is sent out by the system to a "care list", or predefined set of recipients established by the user or included in a device preset.

Health care patent
The patent application notes that fine tuning of the system would be necessary to prevent false alarms, and that building a hierarchy into the care list could allow for a staggered escalation of response. For example, a user's spouse or family might be included in the first level for contacts for mid-severity crises, while the highest level could be saved for emergency responders in high-severity cases.

Prior to Apple unveiling the Apple Watch, reports indicated the device would come with 10 sensors to track health and fitness data. Many of these features were ultimately dropped by Apple because of inconsistency issues, leading some healthcare professionals to find the wearable disappointing in this regard. However, should it ever come to fruition, the system described in this latest patent could go some way to answering similar criticisms in the future.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, watchOS 7
Tag: patent
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Top Rated Comments

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58 months ago
In theory it's a cool idea. My upper-70-something mom lives alone and too "proud" to wear a dedicated alert device. Freaks the hell out of us kids. She might wear something that was dual-purpose and hid the fact it was an alert system.

But my experience with AW is that it's monitoring accuracy is no where near what is needed to not trigger a lot of false positives. I don't trust my AW when I run, why would I trust it to know the proper time to call an ambulance?

"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"

It's funny until you have older parents that have fallen when alone or are at-risk but won't wear one of these alert bracelets because the ads became such a joke and they don't want to face reality that they are old and fragile.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago

In theory it's a cool idea. My upper-70-something mom lives alone and too "proud" to wear a dedicated alert device. Freaks the hell out of us kids. She might wear something that was dual-purpose and hid the fact it was an alert system.

But my experience with AW is that it's monitoring accuracy is no where near what is needed to not trigger a lot of false positives. I don't trust my AW when I run, why would I trust it to know the proper time to call an ambulance?

I sincerely doubt that this would be enacted on the current generation of Apple Watch.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago
"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago

Very valid points. But with this patent, I could see Apple licensing it to someone that does want to go through the FDA process. The license would include some small royalty and an exclusive deal so those devices only work with an apple watch -- for example build the device into an bracelet for the apple watch. I know, I am making it up as I go, but this patent should not be shelved as it has some very practical and beneficial applications.

Completely agree. I work for a medical device company, and I truly believe Apple does not want to be a medical device company but rather ENABLE MD companies to make cool devices and software that work around this. There's just way too much FDA red tape to get through. Of course Apple will be happy to collect a little licensing royalty on the side..
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago

I sincerely doubt that this would be enacted on the current generation of Apple Watch.

Understood. Just putting my opinion out there. It must be something Apple is or has considered. Just saying it does in fact have a long way to go before it gets to the point of being that accurate.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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58 months ago

I doubt anything will be done with it. Apple frequently files patents for things they never implement. I agree on the usefulness though. The 800lb gorilla in the room is the FDA. Getting FDA approval is a "Homerean" Odyssey. I think Cook spoke to a reluctance to go down that road when discussing the lack of sensors on the :apple:Watch.

Very valid points. But with this patent, I could see Apple licensing it to someone that does want to go through the FDA process. The license would include some small royalty and an exclusive deal so those devices only work with an apple watch -- for example build the device into an bracelet for the apple watch. I know, I am making it up as I go, but this patent should not be shelved as it has some very practical and beneficial applications.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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