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Apple awarded patent for ’embedded heart rate monitor’, possibly for future iWatch

Apple was awarded a bunch of patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Christmas Eve, covering everything from a “touch and hover” display panel for iOS to a “seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor“.

Let’s take a closer look at this heart rate monitor, a feature which you can well imagine will end up on any wearable tech – such as the so-called iWatch – that the tech giant may be developing.

According to Apple Insider (via Cnet), which spotted Tuesday’s decision by the USPTO to grant the patent, the technology described in the filing detects a user’s cardiac activity and cardiac electric signals.

The described device would incorporate several leads used to detect a user’s heart rate “transmitted from the user’s skin through the electronic device housing to the leads,” Apple said in the filing’s abstract, adding, “The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the device, thus improving the aesthetic qualities of the device.”

It also makes mention of an “accessory” that could make use of the technology, so it’s not hard to see how this might end up as part of Apple’s iWatch, which many observers are expecting to see launch next year.

Of course, with Apple being the secretive outfit that it is, it’s impossible to know if it really does have a high-tech watch up its sleeve, but a slew of related rumors over the past year, plus the fact wearable tech is expected to go big-time in 2014, suggests the Cupertino company may have something to offer in the space in the next 12 months.

In an email to employees this week, Apple boss Tim Cook hinted 2014 could see Apple introducing something more than just a revamped iPhone or iPad, saying the company had “big plans” for the year.

In all, Apple was awarded 23 patents by the USPTO on Tuesday. If you’re at a loose end on Christmas Day, you can peruse the full list here.

[Image: pio3 / Shuttsertock]