Apple’s bug in your ear

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Plus: Baidu’s AI videomaker; Snap’s NFT gambit

Happy Monday and welcome to Patent Drop! 

Today, we’re checking out tech from Apple that would track your health through your AirPods. Plus: Baidu wants to bring your portraits to life; and filings provide a peek at what Snap’s NFT operability could look like. 

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Let’s dive in, shall we? 

#1. Apple’s AirStethoscope

Apple wants your AirPods to do more than just play music… a lot more.

The company filed several patent applications for tech that monitors biometric data with in-ear sensors. For starters, the company wants to patent a method for “capturing cardiopulmonary signals” using an accelerometer, a device that measures vibration, mounted within a headphone. The accelerometer picks up the “subtle vibrations” created by breathing and heart rate, as well as the “acoustic waves produced by heart and lung sounds,” which in turn are used to measure your heart rate. 

Apple said in its filing that current means of capturing audio measurements of health indicators “suffer from susceptibility to environmental noise or low-frequency motion artifacts, and have difficulty capturing both mechanical and acoustic signals simultaneously with high fidelity.”

Next up, the company filed to patent a method for “measuring and tracking ear characteristics.” This tech uses an in-ear or on-hear headphone to perform a “baseline measurement,” a hearing test that sets a standard and is used for future comparison. With this system, Apple can monitor your ears over time for hearing loss, as well as learn the characteristics of your ears so that if something deviates from the norm, you can know when to go to an audiologist before a condition is exacerbated. 

TLDR; these patents allow Dr. Apple to get to know your ears really, really well. (Add that to the long list of bodily functions that Apple already tracks intimately.)