It seems that Apple has been listening and thinking about how to get into the the wearable computing business, for years now. And now we’ve got proof of that in the form of a patent called ”Personal items network, and associated methods”, filed in 2009 and granted today.
The patent describes Apple’s vision of multiple sensor equipped chipsets with CPUs, a bit of memory, small battery and short range RF transmitters, called Movement (MMD) or Event (EMD) Monitoring Devices. They could be integrated into almost anything, to capture everything you do and changes in environment around you. The sensors in MMD/EMD could be:
“… an accelerometer, one of a strain gauge, force-sensing resistor, piezoelectric strip, humidity or temperature sensor, EKG sensing device, weight-sensing detector, and chemical detector”
They will be used to continuously watch and record your movement, heart rate, pulse, pressure, stress etc; and measure temperature, humidity, chemicals, environmental factors and hazardous conditions around you. All this captured data transmitted to what Apple calls an “interrogation device” (ID). This could be your iPhone, iPod or iWatch which connects to the sensor network on you via secure RF links.
Apple thinks about putting MMDs and EMDs everywhere – in your clothes, shoes, accessories; on your bike, car and briefcase; on FedEx packages, UPS shipping boxes and trucks.
Then, with all this captured data in a powerful, cloud connected computing device like iPhone in your pocket, or iWatch on your wrist – the rest is up to software magic. Think about all those personal health, fitness, life recording and improvement apps in the AppStore. Think about shipment tracking software and iPhone games. Then think what could be done with the deluge of your personal, by the second, data that will become available if Apple figures out how to make this personal items network a reality.
When and if it happens, the smartphone revolution we experienced up to now might seem as a pretty minor thing.