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Apple has been granted a patent for a temperature sensor suitable for the Apple Watch, just weeks before the company is expected to unveil the Apple Watch Series 8 with body temperature sensing capabilities.

Apple-Watch-Body-Temperature-Finished.jpg

The newly granted patent, spotted by MyHealthyApple, was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is titled "Temperature gradient sensing in electronic devices." While the wording of the patent suggests that it can apply to any device, the only device depicted in the patent's illustrations is clearly the Apple Watch, potentially hinting what specific application Apple has in mind for the technology.

apple-watch-temperature-sensor-patent.jpg

Apple's patent protects an electronic device housing that encloses a temperature sensing system comprising a temperature sensor and a differential temperature probe. The system works by calculating the difference between two ends of a probe. One end touches the surface to be measured, while the other is connected to a temperature sensor. The difference in voltage across the different ends of the probe can then be correlated to a differential temperature measurement.
The temperature probe is configured to generate a voltage corresponding to a temperature gradient between a first end of the probe and a second end of the probe. The temperature sensor can be disposed within an electronic device housing. A first end of the probe can be coupled to the temperature sensor and a second end of the probe can be coupled to any suitable surface, whether internal or external, of the electronic device... In this construction, the temperature sensor can be configured to measure a temperature, at any given sampling time or sampling rate, of any surface or volume to which the sensing surface is exposed.

The patent goes on to explain in technical detail how the temperature sensing hardware works. Crucially, while the patent covers how a dedicated temperature sensor could be used inside a device to monitor the temperature of a component like the processor, it says that the sensor can be used to measure "absolute temperature" of an external surface, such as skin.

Most notably, Apple explicitly mentions how the location of the external probe may be located on a "back surface such as a back crystal of a smart watch" and says the system includes a "high-precision and high-accuracy absolute temperature sensor." The patent outlines several potential shapes and arrangements for the temperature sensor, with one of the more striking designs being a cross-shaped temperature probe.

apple-watch-temperature-sensor-patent-2.jpg

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple originally intended to offer a body temperature measurement feature with the ‌Apple Watch Series 7‌ models, but the company shelved the plans when the body temperature algorithm it had developed failed to meet requirements before the device entered the engineering validation testing (EVT) phase last year.

The problems Apple has experienced relating to body temperature measurement purportedly relate to the fact that skin temperature quickly varies based on the environment, and since a smartwatch cannot monitor core body temperature using hardware, the feature is heavily dependent on an algorithm that produces accurate results. This patent only covers the hardware setup for a temperature sensing system, rather than the algorithm required to produce accurate results.

While Apple's patent filings cannot be taken as concrete evidence of the company's exact plans since many of its patents are never used, they do show its areas of research and development, and sometimes reveal impending products, such as the AirTag.

In this case, it is difficult to look past the plethora of reports about the Apple Watch Series 8 offering a body temperature sensor – something that has long been rumored by sources like Kuo. Reports indicate that while the device is unlikely to offer exact body temperature measurements, the sensor will be used to provide at least two new health monitoring features.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman state that the body temperature sensor will aid fertility planning, giving women insights into their ovulation cycle. Apple has focused on women's health in recent years, so expanding features in this area seems to be in line with the company's objectives.

Moreover, the body temperature sensor could be used to improve the detection of patterns when tracking sleep. Apple leveraged blood oxygen sensing capabilities during sleep starting with the Apple Watch Series 6 and significantly bolstered the Apple Watch's sleep tracking in watchOS 9, meaning that further improvements in this area aided by hardware this year seem very plausible.

Apple is also said to have plans to enable the body temperature sensor to detect when a user has a fever, but it seems unlikely that this feature will be available upon the launch of the Apple Watch Series 8. Gurman believes that further in the future, Apple Watch models could determine if a user has a higher than normal body temperature, but it is still unlikely to show an exact measurement.

Article Link: 'High-Accuracy' Apple Watch Temperature Sensor Revealed by Patent Filing Just Weeks Before Series 8 Unveiling
 

polyphenol

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Everyone seems to walk right past the issue of lower than "normal" temperature. Which can be every bit as important as higher than "normal" temperatures.

Especially obviously for those with thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is well-known for resulting in low blood temperature and even just being slightly under-dosed can have an impact on temperature.

While not what we'd really like, a good temperature measurement which can detect lowered as well as raised temperatures would be a welcome addition.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
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Everyone seems to walk right past the issue of lower than "normal" temperature. Which can be every bit as important as higher than "normal" temperatures.

Especially obviously for those with thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is well-known for resulting in low blood temperature and even just being slightly under-dosed can have an impact on temperature.

While not what we'd really like, a good temperature measurement which can detect lowered as well as raised temperatures would be a welcome addition.
A simple $7 thermometer from Walmart or Target placed under the tongue or armpit can provide better results.

It’s gimmicky at first but yes this new feature will eventually improve…albeit in the slow yearly Apple software improvement fashion.
 

polyphenol

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2020
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A simple $7 thermometer from Walmart or Target placed under the tongue or armpit can provide better results.

It’s gimmicky at first but yes this new feature will eventually improve…albeit in the slow yearly Apple software improvement fashion.
The big thing is that a watch, being worn substantially all the time, will take repeated measurements, store them and allow for comprehensive analysis - taking into account the other measurements it can make. For example, temperature might right to "normal" when walking briskly, exercising, etc., but drop in the middle of the night while asleep. Put those pixels together and get a picture.

A $7 thermometer doesn't give you all that.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
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Los Angeles, Ca
The big thing is that a watch, being worn substantially all the time, will take repeated measurements, store them and allow for comprehensive analysis - taking into account the other measurements it can make. For example, temperature might right to "normal" when walking briskly, exercising, etc., but drop in the middle of the night while asleep. Put those pixels together and get a picture.

A $7 thermometer doesn't give you all that.
That’s true. I do agree with you completely.

I think I’m just upset that Apple is going to probably introduce this only to their new Pro Watch model.
 

polyphenol

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2020
1,346
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Wales
That’s true. I do agree with you completely.

I think I’m just upset that Apple is going to probably introduce this only to their new Pro Watch model.
That would be sad - I agree.

If the 8 doesn't offer something substantial, I'll be looking for the best deal on a 7. Currently £339 refurb at Apple UK (GPS, 45mm, basic strap). Which seems quite high.
 

alongdingdong

macrumors regular
Jul 16, 2014
133
95
A long requested measuring tool, I hope they also further improved on their existing sensors to make them more sensitive/accurate, there is still plenty of room for improvements with the existing tech in the latest AW.
 
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jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
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The big thing is that a watch, being worn substantially all the time, will take repeated measurements, store them and allow for comprehensive analysis - taking into account the other measurements it can make. For example, temperature might right to "normal" when walking briskly, exercising, etc., but drop in the middle of the night while asleep. Put those pixels together and get a picture.

A $7 thermometer doesn't give you all that.
Also when starting to get a cold/fever you won't just immediately shoot up to 103 degrees. At that point you can take your temp with a thermometer, but you already know you are sick. If you are wearing the watch you can get a notification when you are at 99/100, something you might not notice.

That is of course, if it is accurate. Hopefully it is not another blood oxygen sensor situation again.
 

alongdingdong

macrumors regular
Jul 16, 2014
133
95
I just did some reading up but seems like the blood oxygen sensor are not that accurate since the AW6, i hope they first focus at enhancing their current tech instead of throwing additional sensors at us that are not nearly as accurate.

Several studies showed the AW6 and 7 Blood Oxygen sensor messurements are not nearly as accurate as finger tip sensors.....
 
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iDarth_Betar

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2022
634
2,021
Woo hoo! At least, we’re trying a new temperate sensor. I’ll take it. Apple should never release new Apple watches without adding any type of sensors in a year.

If we’re going to pay the premium price it has to offer premium features too. Software and hardware-wise.
Hopefully the Mood Sensor will be next.

Starts your favorite playlist when you’re sad. It sends you a thumbs up when you’re feeling GREAT! Shuts down when you’re bitter and complaining 😋
 
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