Apple Watch 'high-precision' temperature sensor patent exposed

Apple has obtained a patent for a "high-precision" temperature sensor for Apple Watch. In a few weeks, Apple is expected to unveil the new Apple Watch Series 8 with body temperature sensing. MyHealthyApple discovered this newly granted patent from Apple, which has been filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office and is titled "Temperature gradient sensing in electronic devices". While the wording of the patent suggests it could be applied to any device, the only device depicted in the patent's illustration is apparently the Apple Watch, which may hint at Apple's specific application of the technology.

Apple's patent protection shows an electronic device housing that contains a temperature sensing system that includes a temperature sensor and a differential temperature probe. The system works by calculating the difference between the two ends of the probe. One end is in contact with the surface to be measured, and the other end is connected to a temperature sensor. The voltage difference at the different ends of the probe can then be correlated to the temperature difference measurement.

"The temperature probe is configured to generate a voltage corresponding to a temperature gradient between the first end of the probe and the second end of the probe. The temperature sensor may be disposed of within the electronics housing. The first end of the probe may be coupled to To the temperature sensor, and the second end of the probe can be coupled to any suitable surface of the electronic device, whether internal or external... In this configuration, the temperature sensor can be configured to take samples at any given sampling time or The rate measures the temperature of any surface or volume to which the sensing surface is exposed.”

The patent goes on to explain in detail how the temperature sensing hardware works. What's more, while the patent covers how to use a dedicated temperature sensor inside the device to monitor the temperature of components like the processor, it says the sensor could be used to measure the "absolute temperature" of external surfaces such as skin.

Most notably, Apple explicitly mentions that the location of the external probe could be on the "back, such as the back crystal of a smartwatch," and says the system includes a "high-precision and high-accuracy absolute temperature sensor." The patent outlines several potential shapes and arrangements of temperature sensors, with one striking design being a cross-shaped temperature probe.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple originally intended to provide a body temperature measurement function on the "Apple Watch Series 7" device, but during the Engineering Verification Test (EVT) phase, the company shelved the plan because the temperature algorithm it developed failed to meet the requirements. .

Apple's problems with body temperature measurement are said to be related to the fact that skin temperature can change rapidly depending on the environment, and since smartwatches cannot use hardware to monitor core body temperature, the feature relies heavily on sensors that produce accurate results. algorithm. The patent only covers the hardware setup of the temperature sensing system, not the algorithms needed to produce accurate results.

While Apple's patent filings can't be considered concrete evidence of the company's exact plans, as many of its patents have never been used, they do show where its research and development are headed, and sometimes accurately reveal upcoming products like the AirTag tracking device.

There have been a lot of revelations about the Apple Watch Series 8 providing a body temperature sensor. Reports suggest that while the device is unlikely to provide accurate 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 say temperature sensors will help with fertility planning by giving women a sense of their ovulation cycle. Apple has focused on women's health in recent years, so expanding functionality in that area seems to be in line with the company's goals.

Additionally, a body temperature sensor can be used to improve pattern detection when tracking sleep. Apple's use of blood oxygen sensing during sleep starting with the Apple Watch Series 6 and significantly enhancing Apple Watch sleep tracking in watchOS 9 means this area could be further improved this year with the help of hardware.

Apple also plans to allow temperature sensors to detect when users have a fever, but it seems unlikely that this feature will be available when the "Apple Watch Series 8" is launched. Gurman believes that in the further future, Apple Watch models can detect if a user's body temperature is higher than normal, but it is still unlikely to show an accurate measurement.

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