The Apple Watch is an incredible health and fitness tool. From tracking your movement, calories burned, and workouts, to keeping tabs on your heart rate and even the blood glucose levels of diabetics, the Apple Watch may end up revolutionizing the health and fitness industry. Just today, an Apple patent surfaced that may expand the Apple Watch’s role in our health, turning it into an urgent care alert system.
The patent, titled “Care Events and Detection Alerts”, describes a system in which an Apple Watch can detect when an accident or emergency occurs, and transmit the data to its paired iPhone to contact a spouse, relative, or call 911, depending on the severity of the emergency.
In the patent’s own words, an Apple Watch, or “an electronic device monitoring environmental data and/or user data from one or more sensors”, transmits “one or more alerts regarding the detected occurrence” to “at least one other electronic device” – its paired iPhone. The system would use a combination of sensors, including the Watch’s heart rate monitor, gyroscope, and accelerometer to detect a variety of emergencies, or “care events”.
A care event, as defined by the patent, is “any event that may occur for which a user may need care – including “a car crash, a bike accident, a medical emergency such as a heart attack or an aneurysm, separation of a child from the child’s caregiver, a dementia patient becoming lost, an avalanche, a fall, a mugging, a fire, and/or any other event for which a user may require medical, police, family, fire rescue, and/or other kind of assistance.” The system would then send out an alert to a “care list” – a list of emergency contacts included in the device.
The patent also describes a system to avoid false alarms, which include a variety of systems including user input and GPS readings to determine if a care event has occurred before alerting someone on the care list. The care list is also to be organized in a hierarchical order to avoid unnecessarily contacting emergency services – the system would, for example, alert a spouse or parent for a “level 1” care event, or 911 for a higher level event, for example.
As with many of Apple’s other patents, it’s not clear when, if at all, this technology would be implemented into the Apple Watch. Apple has been careful to integrate more advanced health monitoring features into the Apple Watch in the past, as doing so may require FDA approval. It does seem, however, that as technology advances, the Apple Watch is becoming more of a complete health monitoring and diagnostics tool. If such a system as the patent describes were to be integrated into the Apple Watch, it would likely be a huge selling point for the device.