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Old May 1, 2014, 10:47 AM   #1
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Wild Rumor of Apple EarPods with Biometric Sensors Has Roots in Apple's Research




A seemingly wild rumor of Apple planning to launch new EarPods headphones with integrated heart rate and blood pressure sensors has been making the rounds today after the claim was posted on anonymous information sharing platform Secret (via Reddit).
Quote:
Apple's new EarPods will have sensors in them, for heart rate & blood pressure. Also iBeacons so they don't get lost. They will require the lightning port, it's why the audio jack was moved to the bottom. [...]

It stores the data in a similar way to thumbprint point data, fully encrypted and nothing identifiable. But nice to send to your doctor to keep track of at which point your blood pressure started rising for example. [...]

Redesigned remote too. Extra mic for better noise canceling.
While a number of major tech stories have in fact broken on Secret, the anonymous nature of the platform makes it all but impossible to separate legitimate claims from fiction without corroborating information from other sources. As a result, it's easy to dismiss this EarPods rumor from someone claiming to have recently been let go from Apple.

But what makes the rumor a bit more interesting is that it has roots in Apple's research as documented in patent applications dating back years. Whether the Secret rumor is a fake inspired by those patent filings or if there actually is something to it is unknown, but it's worth taking another look at what Apple has proposed.

In one patent application filed in March 2007 and claiming a priority date of September 2006, Apple proposes using sensors integrated into various accessories or even devices themselves to collect physiological data.
Quote:
The present invention can include systems and methods for integrating sensors for tracking a user's performance metrics into electronic devices and accessories therefor. In one embodiment of the present invention, the electronic devices can include portable media devices similar to iPods sold by Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. or cellular telephones similar to iPhones designed by Apple Inc.

In one embodiment, the present invention can include headsets having one or more integrated physiological sensors. The headsets can be, for example, headphones for receiving audio signals from a media device or headsets for communication with cellular telephones. The sensor signals can be transmitted to a data repository through the same communication channel through which audio signals are transmitted to the headset (e.g., hard-wired or wireless).
Apple's concepts for sensor clipped onto earlobe (left) to monitor pulse/oxygen levels or adhered to the skin (right)
Alternatively, Apple proposes using sensors embedded in an iPod or iPhone "sling" armband to monitor such data. Notably, two of the inventors listed on the patent filing are longtime accessories head Jesse Dorogusker, who moved to Square in 2012, and "father of the iPod" Tony Fadell, who left Apple in 2008 before starting Nest.

A second filing, which was granted as a patent this February, more directly addresses headphone-based physiological monitoring, although the application is also quite old, having been filed in August 2008 with an October 2007 priority date.
Quote:
The invention pertains to a monitoring system that can be placed proximate to the head or ear of a user. According to one embodiment, the monitoring system can be used with a hearing device, headphones, earbuds or headsets. The monitoring system can, for example, be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities. The positioning of the monitoring system can also facilitate sensing of other user characteristics (e.g., biometric data), such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate.

Advantageously, the invention can provide monitoring capabilities within a hearing device. Assuming the user is otherwise using the hearing device, such as to provide audio output by a portable media player, the user gains monitoring capabilities without requiring the user to wear or carry an additional article.
Apple's concepts for sensors integrated directly into earpiece (left) or in a separate housing (right)
Biometrics have been rumored to be a significant part of iOS 8, with a new "Healthbook" app for tracking various types of health-related information being a key addition to Apple's mobile operating system. With Apple also rumored to be deploying biometric sensors in an upcoming iWatch, it's clear that the company has been looking at ways of collecting health-related data for many years and the effort may finally be coming together.

Article Link: Wild Rumor of Apple EarPods with Biometric Sensors Has Roots in Apple's Research
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:49 AM   #2
spyguy10709
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Now THAT'S a workout accessory!!
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:51 AM   #3
nepalisherpa
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If true, those headphones better be comfortable. Also, if headphones do in fact end up using the lightning port, then, that just means the replacement headphones will be expensive.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:51 AM   #4
Rogifan
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So new earpods would use lightning port instead of headphone jack?
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:52 AM   #5
Lionel Messi
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I use my EarPods in the gym/running because they stay in your ears and sound good. With these added features, my EarPods will become everyone's go-to fitness earphones.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
So new earpods would use lightning port instead of headphone jack?
Yes. No one charges their phone when doing any sort of fitness anyways so it won't make a difference for most.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:52 AM   #6
amirite
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No listening to music while charging your phone...?
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:52 AM   #7
andrew0122
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With this and the larger screen, I just might consider going back from Android. . .

OR at least owning the iPhone as a second device.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:54 AM   #8
JaySoul
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Great idea. But very specific to when you're working out.

What about when you're not?
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:55 AM   #9
bboucher790
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Headphones that tell you you're fat.

Revolutionary. Magically Delicious.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:56 AM   #10
BMcCoy
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Nonsense, for several medical reasons.
Not least of which is you can't measure blood pressure in your ear.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:57 AM   #11
moeafg
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"Yes. No one charges their phone when doing any sort of fitness anyways so it won't make a difference for most."

But many people listen to their music whilst charging their device e.g. when studying in the library - I have done this countless amount of times. If such a thing happens, it'd be a stupid move by Apple. However Apple would not make such a move as they may just be able to do this through the headphone jack by embedding such technologies into the port.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:57 AM   #12
Rogifan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lionel Messi View Post
Yes. No one charges their phone when doing any sort of fitness anyways so it won't make a difference for most.
I wasn't knocking the idea; I don't use earpods but I do use a 3rd party accessory with my headphones that uses lightning port, not headphone jack. So for me it would be no change.
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:58 AM   #13
tasset
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I'd be all over these and in fact I expect the headphones to move to the lightning port eventually removing the standard port completely in a couple of years (yay thinness).
I'm sure even if Apple packages these separately and charges a premium, they will be way cheaper than this cool vaporware project:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ear-headphones
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Old May 1, 2014, 10:59 AM   #14
Rogifan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirite View Post
No listening to music while charging your phone...?
Don't think the headphone jack is going away.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:00 AM   #15
MagicKnights
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Someone else is already coming out with something similar except it's also wireless!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ear-headphones


I am assuming they are going to package it with every iPhone/make it a lot more affordable then the $300 Dash though seeing as the average consumer is not going to pay that kind of money for in ear corded earphones.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:00 AM   #16
tasset
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
I wasn't knocking the idea; I don't use earpods but I do use a 3rd party accessory with my headphones that uses lightning port, not headphone jack. So for me it would be no change.
Interesting, what accessory is that?
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:00 AM   #17
webbuzz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nepalisherpa View Post
If true, those headphones better be comfortable.
Something the current EarPods are not.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:01 AM   #18
amirite
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
Don't think the headphone jack is going away.
So I need two pairs of headphones, or a pair with two connectors?
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:01 AM   #19
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:03 AM   #20
ineedamac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lionel Messi View Post
Yes. No one charges their phone when doing any sort of fitness anyways so it won't make a difference for most.
Fitness aside, what about those that charge their iPhone while they are at the office and charging or syncing their iPhone? Does this mean then we will have 2 lightning ports?
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:03 AM   #21
commander.data
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post
So new earpods would use lightning port instead of headphone jack?
Quote:
They will require the lightning port, it's why the audio jack was moved to the bottom.
The Secret rumour claims the earpods need the Lightning port which was why the headphone jack was moved to the bottom. That makes it sound like it'll use both the lightning port for data and the headphone port for audio. If they used the lightning port only instead of the headphone port, then they wouldn't need to move the headphone port. It could mean an ugly split connector at the end of the earpods though.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:03 AM   #22
tasset
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webbuzz View Post
Something the current EarPods are not.
Such a tough product to get right for all. I hated the original earbuds but like the new earPods so much that I have some at home, at work, and in my vehicle.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:05 AM   #23
carlgo
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This may also be part of the Hearing Aids for iPhone program. This allows for the hearing aids to also function like ear buds and music, phone calls, the Navigation Nazi can all beam wirelessly into your ear. Might as well add other sensors to them while they are there.

Apple could completely take over the hearing aid industry if they wanted to actually sell the aids themselves, bypassing existing manufacturers. Only something like 5% of hearing impaired people actually have those awesomely overpriced hearing aids.
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:12 AM   #24
captain cadet
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So if it goes though lighting - where can it go on a watch as it be too big? It can't go on the sides as it dig into you!
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Old May 1, 2014, 11:14 AM   #25
Mac Fly (film)
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Originally Posted by BMcCoy View Post
Nonsense, for several medical reasons.
Not least of which is you can't measure blood pressure in your ear.
Yeah, because something hasn't been possible in the past, that means it's not possible, period?
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