The device was revealed in a new patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and appears to show designs on another wearable apart from the Apple Watch that can be worn on different locations on the body.
Electrocardiographic measurements rely on multiple electrode readings that can vary depending on where the recording is taken on the body. For example, accidental misplacement of limb lead electrodes is a common cause of ECG reading abnormalities. To solve this, Apple's patent details how the device can intelligently adapt its measurements for accuracy by taking and comparing readings in different body locations.
In one example, the device can be run through an 'enrollment' process, whereby the measurements are taken at different locations on the body. Once the process is finished, electrocardiographic results obtained from the arm can be compared against the stored measurements and determine an accurate reading of heart functioning.
The patent describes how a user wearing the device on their arm can take manual measurements, by placing their finger on an electrode that is not already in contact with the body, whereby the device compares the inverted readings relative to one another to calculate an accurate measurement.
Earlier this week it was reported that Apple is developing at least one new health-tracking product that could debut alongside the tenth-anniversary iPhone in 2017. The product is said to have an array of health-related apps that collect data such as heart rate, pulse, and blood sugar changes.
It's extremely unlikely that today's patent relates to the upcoming device, but it does serve as another example of the research Apple is ploughing into this area, and indicates that the company is not averse to developing wearable technology that isn't necessarily linked to the Apple Watch.
In a recent interview, when asked what he believes the "next frontiers" will be when it comes to product development, Apple CEO Tim Cook highlighted health as "the biggest one of all."