The Apple Watch has been the most successful smartwatch to date, but mainstream consumers continue to wait for more compelling features to jump in. One of those features might have been revealed thanks to a recent patent filing from Apple.
Discovered by Apple Insider, the “Care Event Detection and Alerts” patent refers to an electronic device that can detect a “care event” by monitoring environmental and user data from one or more sensors. The device can also send alerts if necessary.
A care event refers to any event in which a user might need medical attention. Examples in the patent include a car crash, bike accident, medical emergency, separation of a child from a caregiver, mugging, and more.
Detecting a care event involves monitoring the sensors on the device and/or from another device. For example, a car crash might be detected if the accelerometer experiences a sudden change in speed. Another situation could be a heart attack if a heart rate is no longer detected.
The final piece of the puzzle involves notifying one or more individuals or entities based on a care list set by the user. These include ambulances, firefighters, police, and hospitals, as well as friends or family. The care list determines how these individuals or entities are contacted. Users can set which contacts are alerted based on the type of care event, and they can even select the order in which they are alerted.
The software is designed to work whether the user is alert enough to initiate communications or incapacitated. The device could offer prompts for a user to select if they do or do not want alerts sent. However, if the user is unable to provide confirmation, an alert could still be transmitted, but it would include information that the user was unable to respond.
We need to make it clear that Apple did not mention the Apple Watch specifically in the patent, but it seems to be the perfect device for this application. It has a heart rate sensor and it can work with an iPhone as a secondary device for additional sensors and the transmission of alerts.
Unfortunately a patent doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be implemented, so it’s unknown what Apple’s plan is. However, with many reports indicating that medical data will play a key role in future smartwatches, we won’t be surprised if this feature shows up on the Apple Watch soon.