Apple Getting a Feel for Smart Medicine

 

It looks like those “evil geniuses” in Cupertino, California, simply aren’t content with smartphones, smart watches, and smart homes. Apple recently filed a patent for a fabric that would use interwoven electronic circuitry to produce a “force-sensing” glove.

No, it won’t attempt to provide insight into the next Star Wars movie, but, according to the patent, the embedded circuitry would contain sensors capable of producing pressure and force readings. The embedded circuits would be interwoven between the strands of fabric, and could include “elements formed from electrodes on a compressible substrate such as an elastomeric polymer substrate.” In other words, the material would reform once the pressure was released.

The patent also states that “wireless circuitry in the fabric-based item may be used to convey force sensor information to external equipment.” So it could send the data compiled by the glove to a watch, phone, or other mobile device.

While the patent doesn’t mention any specific uses, many are suggesting a medical application due to Apple’s professed interested in growing this portion of their product offerings. Telemedicine, which provides medical treatment services without requiring patients to actually go to the doctor’s office, is currently a $6 billion industry segment, and it’s forecasting to triple over the next five years.

This type of patent, combined with Apple’s expertise in mobile, wireless, and sensing technologies, could be the first step in developing a type of self-examination glove that could transmit data like heart rate and blood pressure without requiring individuals to go to the hospital. It could also be used in emergency situations while waiting for first responders.

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