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 Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

Chupa Chupa Avatar
68 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)
NT1440 Avatar
68 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)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
68 months ago
"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erinsarah Avatar
68 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)
Chupa Chupa Avatar
68 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)
2457282 Avatar
68 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)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...