Skip to main content

Did Apple steal its heart sensor technology for the Apple Watch?

Wear OS vs. Apple Watch
Prykhodov/123RF

Apple has big plans to make its Apple Watch as much of a medical device as an expensive wrist accessory, but a new lawsuit may throw a wrench in the works. According to a Michigan-based health company called Omni MedSci, Apple stole the technology that was needed to create its heart rate sensor, a key component to the Apple Watch that is being further explored for newer models of the wearable.

According to Omni’s founder Dr. Mohammed Islam, several Apple team members, including the company’s medical technology specialist, hardware designer, and vice president of product marketing, met with Omni personnel between 2014 and 2016 to discuss patent applications — that is to say, Omni’s patent applications.

Islam alleges that after showing these patents to Apple, the tech giant went silent, and reneged on any potential partnership negotiations that may have been ongoing. Ultimately, Islam claims, Apple took the startup’s patent ideas and received approval for its own infringing patent in 2017 and earlier in 2018 — the more recent one addresses how light sources might be leveraged to monitor glucose. This is of particular interest, seeing as Apple is reportedly looking to create a sensor for the Apple Watch capable of keeping tabs on blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes.

As a result of the lawsuit, Islam hopes to receive both damages and an injunction preventing further sales of the Apple Watch (which, by the way, seems like a rather unlikely outcome).

While lawsuits against Apple are nothing new, this particular case does have a few fishy elements. First off, the startup founder claims to have first met with Apple in 2014, just a few months before the Apple Watch made its debut. At point, however, the company had already solidified its heart rate sensor technology, as this particular feature was discussed at length during the wearable’s unveiling. Plus, as Apple Insider reports, Islam seems to have incorporated certain modifications into his own intellectual property (IP) after the Apple event at which the Watch was introduced.

Islam has also previously brought lawsuits against Huawei, Nokia, and Verizon for patent infringement. As for this current Apple case, the tech giant has yet to respond to the allegations.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
What you can (and can’t) do on your Apple Watch without your iPhone
Apple Watch Series 7 in a pocket.

The Apple Watch has seen enormous success. In fact, it’s the most popular item in Apple’s quickly expanding Wearables, Home, and Accessories division, which also includes Apple AirPods.

Since the Apple Watch was released in 2015, the smartwatch has gone through a number of makeovers and gained several new features. People love the Apple Watch for its durability, water resistance, and fitness-tracking abilities. Early versions of the watch could measure your activity levels, heart rate, and several other health metrics. Later versions even come with tools like ECGs (electrocardiograms) that can tell you when your heartbeat is abnormal and oximeters that can measure your blood oxygen levels.

Read more
Apple Watch SE 2: What we want to see from the next budget Apple watch
should buy the apple watch series 6 or se and apps

When Apple first announced the Apple Watch SE alongside the Watch Series 6 in 2020, I was intrigued. After all, it was a cheaper version of the latest smartwatch with the right amount of hits and misses. I bought the Watch SE for myself earlier this year, and while it is an overall champ, there are a few things that Apple can work on and improve with the Watch SE 2, which is expected to be announced in 2022. Here are five things we would like to see from the Apple Watch SE 2.
1. A bigger display
Apple Watch Series 7 (left) and Series 6 (right) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The big selling point of the original Apple Watch SE was that it looked exactly like the Watch Series 6. Users could get the latest hardware with some limited software features like an always-on display.

Read more
6 weeks in, I see the value in committing to the Apple Watch Series 7
ECG on the Apple Watch Series 7.

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy today (provided you own an iPhone), and six weeks into wearing the Series 7, my opinion about it as a smartwatch hasn’t changed — it’s effortlessly simple to use, metronomically reliable, and completely customizable.

Now that I've worn it for a decent length of time, it has gathered plenty of health and activity data, and Apple Health has started to show the value in committing to wearing the Apple Watch every day. Because I think the Series 7 is excellent and encourage people to buy one, I want to show what you get long-term when you really invest in it. So has it been worth it, and is there any real value in the health data it presents?
Everyday wear
For the Apple Watch to collect its data, you have to wear it, and that’s not going to happen if it’s annoying or uncomfortable. With the right band, the Series 7 practically disappears on your wrist, so even those who don’t enjoy wearing a watch will quickly get used to it. And the variety of bands available means that if one doesn’t feel right, there will almost certainly be another that will.

Read more