We often look to the patents that Apple obtains to find out what interests it. As we always say, however, the most reliable information that patents provide us with are areas of interest rather than the final execution of a process or the implementation of a system. Proof of this is the patent that concerns us and of which, unlike many others, we are delighted that it did not materialize.
Small ideas that make big differences
In September 2018, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 4 and surprised us all with the ability to take an ECG directly from our watch. What we now know is that this clean implementation that we currently have was not the only one considered by the engineering teams in Cupertino.
According to the “Portable EKG Device” patent, Apple was planning or researching to bring the ECG to the Apple Watch in a very different way. The key was that the ECG needs two different points of contact with the body in two separate sections leaving the heart in the middle, preferably.
Apple plans to address this requirement by using a second sensor in the form of an arm strap. This second sensor would communicate with the Apple Watch and provide this second source of data, since, being close to the heart, its electrical signals could be measured at a distance.
Another proposed system consisted of something resembling a second Apple Watch on the upper arm. A sensor that was in contact with the skin could measure its electrical signals and, after comparing them to those provided by the Apple Watch on the wrist, offer us a measurement.
It is clear that having to wear a second device on the body to perform an ECG is not at all comfortable. So much so that this feature would have been relegated to people who really need to be aware of it by separating its adoption from the general public. Lucky for everyone, Apple had a small but brilliant idea.
What if the second sensor is on the fingertip of your hand opposite to where you wear the Apple Watch? In terms of measurement it would be ideal, a second Apple Watch on the other wrist would give great precision to the measurements. But it is that in terms of execution that made it possible to do without this second sensor, or rather to place this second sensor on the same Apple Watch.
Esta es la implementación que al final Apple presentó con el Apple Watch Series 4. Un sistema en que la parte inferior del reloj conecta a nuestra muñeca y donde la corona digital se conecta a nuestra otra mano cuando colocamos el dedo en ella dejando el corazón In the center.
One can imagine the joy of the Apple Watch health team when they were able to verify that this idea gave the results that have saved so many lives. Thanks to this elegant system, the ECG reaches the widest audience and in the easiest way. We just touch the Apple Watch with our finger and that’s it.