A trio of newly published patent applications indicate that Apple is working on biometric earbuds, according to a Patently Apple report.
As Patently Apple explains, the patents revolve around a system in which a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor is situated in the earbud so that it faces a part of the ear called the tragus. By shining a light onto the skin of that area and measuring its reflectivity, the sensor can detect blood flow, which can offer biometrics related to heart rate, VO2, temperature, and more.
Apple is not the first to explore earbud biometrics. Valencell, for example, has lately specialized in this sort of thing, having seen its PerformTek technology integrated into devices like the Jabra Elite Sport earbuds. (Incidentally, Valencell filed lawsuits against Apple and FitBit over patent infringement with respect to its fitness tracking technology at the start of last year.) But the company’s interest in this area appears to reflect a broader interest in biometrics as the technology becomes increasingly mainstream in consumer devices.
Of course, as always, the fact that Apple has applied for these patents doesn’t mean the company will actually deliver such products to the market; but with its IP bases covered, it won’t be a surprise if and when the company starts selling such biometric earbuds.
Source: Patently Apple