Wild Rumor of Apple EarPods with Biometric Sensors Has Roots in Apple's Research

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 1, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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).
    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.
    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.
    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
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2010
    One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
  3. nepalisherpa, May 1, 2014
    Last edited: May 1, 2014

    macrumors 68020


    Aug 15, 2011
    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.
  4. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    So new earpods would use lightning port instead of headphone jack?
  5. macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2013
    Barcelona, Spain
    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.


    Yes. No one charges their phone when doing any sort of fitness anyways so it won't make a difference for most.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2009
    No listening to music while charging your phone...?
  7. macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2007
    Springfieldvilletownvilleton, Missouri
    With this and the larger screen, I just might consider going back from Android. . .

    OR at least owning the iPhone as a second device.
  8. macrumors 68000


    Jan 30, 2008
    Great idea. But very specific to when you're working out.

    What about when you're not?
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2007
    Headphones that tell you you're fat.

    Revolutionary. Magically Delicious.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2010
    Nonsense, for several medical reasons.
    Not least of which is you can't measure blood pressure in your ear.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2014
    "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.
  12. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    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.
  13. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2007
  14. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    Don't think the headphone jack is going away.
  15. macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2014
  16. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2007
    Interesting, what accessory is that?
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2010
    Something the current EarPods are not.
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2009
    So I need two pairs of headphones, or a pair with two connectors?
  19. macrumors 603


    Mar 11, 2013
  20. macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2008
    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?
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2006
    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.
  22. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2007
    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.
  23. macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    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.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Sep 2, 2012
    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!
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Mac Fly (film)

    Feb 12, 2006
    Yeah, because something hasn't been possible in the past, that means it's not possible, period?

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