Apple is working on an all-new sleep tracking system that monitors user's vitals overnight, according to a new patent filed by the Cupertino-based company.
The system described in the document published by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) couples smart bedding with a slew of sensors that cover the sleeping person, coupled with a camera to study their movements at night.
Apple acquired a startup known as Beddit in May 2017. The company built a sleep monitoring system, Beddit 3, that lies across the sheet and records vital statistics overnight, including heart-rate, breaths per minute, and temperature, to name a few.
Interestingly, none of the inventors listed in the new patent are former Beddit engineers, making the new system an original invention by Apple – and not something built by the Beddit after they had been acquired by the iPhone creator.
The system listed in the recently published USPTO document is way more advanced than anything Beddit 3 is capable of. According to Apple, the newly patented system could be used to monitor users' breathing motion, body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate. The monitoring system could be expanded with more sensors – electrodes configured for impedance cardiography, and electrocardiogram.
The patent application was filed earlier this year, before being published last week by the US Patent & Trademark Office, where it was spotted by tech blog Patently Apple.
It's worth taking this advanced sleep tracking system with a healthy pinch of salt. After all, Apple patents a slew of different technology that never leaves the R&D department, so it's possible this sleep tracking system will never make it into a final product.
Nevertheless, the patent reveals an increasing interest in the health sector from Apple, something that has become more important in its Apple Watch wearable, which recently added the ability to detect when someone has fallen, as well as monitoring high and low heart-rate.
Sleep tracking is still missing from the Apple-built smartwatch. Many believed the acquisition of Beddit was to help bring automatic sleep tracking to the next-generation wearable. However, the Apple Watch Series 4, which launched with an entirely-new design back in September, still does not possess the ability to natively track heart-rate, movements and sleep quality.