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Apple Patents Fitness-Tracking Earbuds That Can Read Your Heartbeat

[Image: Flickr user Simon Yeo]

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just granted Apple a patent for a new kind of biometric sensor that, unlike other wearables we've seen so far, connects to you via your ear. The patent applies to a sensor that can be embedded in a pair of earbuds or headphones, which then hoovers up wearer data like heartbeat, body temperature, or even how much you're perspiring when you hit the gym.

How the sensor intends to do that, however, isn't explicitly outlined in the filing. As AppleInsider first pointed out, U.S. patent #8,655,004 concerns a "sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets" to be used "during exercise or sporting activities." Originally filed in 2007, the patent suggests Apple has apparently been experimenting with new ways to cull together biometric data for quite some time now.

While such technology may not necessarily make it to market, the patent hints at potential alternative body sensors to, say, an omniscient, always-on iWatch you can wear while you sleep. But if Apple is really serious about affixing sensors to customers' ears, perhaps it should work on making its woefully unimpressive plastic earbuds sound a bit better first.