The US Patent Office (USPTO) recently released a patent application suggesting that Apple’s truly wireless stereo (TWS) earphones could potentially function as a health monitoring tool in the coming years. The Cupertino company appears to have created the AirPods sensor device, which would allow the earphones to track electrical impulses from the wearer’s brain. The patent details a system that may monitor brain activity, which is generally done by placing electrodes on a patient’s head. However, using AirPods may offer a more covert method of doing so.
A wearable electronic device, similar to Apple’s AirPods, is described in a recent patent published on the USPTO website. It has electrodes, just like more conventional devices used to track biosignals like brain activity, such as electroencephalography, electrooculography, galvanic skin response, blood volume pulse, and electromyography. This would make it possible for someone using AirPods to keep an eye on their brain activity while they’re on the go without using a device.
The AirPods are likely to move once they are implanted in a user’s ear, unlike conventional EEG monitors that are affixed to a user’s head. The patent outlines a system that includes active and reference electrodes on the exterior of the AirPods’ body, as well as many extra electrodes placed at various locations on the eartip to take into account the fact that ear shape and size might vary.
The wearable electronic device “includes a sensor circuit and a switching circuit,” according to Apple’s patent abstract. A variety of distinct subsets of one or more electrodes in the set of electrodes can be electrically connected to the sensor circuit using the switching circuit. The manufacturer has provided a design (Figure 2) of the alleged device that indicates the location of the electrodes on the wireless headphones, despite the fact that the description may seem a little hazy.
According to Apple’s patent application, these AirPods’ eartips will be removable. The patent application also specified a system (Figure 5) that enables a user to tap a specific area of the earphone’s body to begin measuring biosignals.
Figure 10 in the document suggests that the functionality could also be supported on wired earphones like EarPods or a pair of glasses—tthe reference and active electrodes would be placed on the first and second stems of the glasses while showing the location of the electrodes on the eartip and the touch-sensitive area from a different angle.
Although a recent rumour implies that Apple is looking into ways to incorporate new health features like temperature monitoring into its headphones, it is still unclear whether the firm wants to add the capacity to measure biosignals to its well-known AirPods and other wearable devices. Additionally, Apple is apparently working on methods to improve its current health monitoring devices, including adding non-invasive blood sugar monitoring to the Apple Watch, which is anticipated to appear in a later edition of the wearable technology.