Apple's future iPhones could recognize a user by their heartbeat

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A new embedded security method in a future iPhone could lock out unauthorized users who do not have an identified "cardiac signal," measured through a heart sensor in the hardware.



A new Apple patent application, entitled "Seamlessly Embedded Heart Rate Monitor," was revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. It describes a hidden, built-in iPhone sensor that would detect a user's heartbeat when the phone is picked up. That biometric data can be used to identify an individual.



"For example, the durations of particular portions of a user's heart rhythm, or the relative size of peaks of a user's electrocardiogram (EKG) can be processed and compared to a stored profile to authenticate a user of the device," the application reads.



The sensor would provide the phone with heart rate data, which would be analyzed for unique characteristics that could only belong to one person. The system could then allow only the owner of the phone to use it, and block out those who do not match the unique biometric data.



The heart rate sensor would be able to track the electrical activity of a heart during a heartbeat. This could include a series of waves that represent specific actions of the heart. For example, a "P wave" signals normal atrial depolarization, where the main electrical vector spreads from the right atrium to the left atrium.



"The shape and duration of the P wave can be related to the size of the user's atrium (e.g., indicating atrial enlargement) and can be a first source of heartbeat characteristics unique to a user," the application reads.







The heart rate would be obtained through one or more sensors embedded in the device, found in the form of leads. Those leads would be coupled to an electrically conductive portion of the device, such as a metallic bezel or housing on the sides of the iPhone.



The patent application also describes external methods to obtain a user's heart rate, though that would be used for other purposes such as during exercise. The application said one or more leads could also be included in a headset plugged into the iPhone.



The described system would sample several of the users' heartbeats at multiple times to get a sampled variety. The application notes that a user's heart rate can vary slightly based on their activity or mood, and the device could potentially identify a range for a person's heart rate.







The application also references another patent from Apple, revealed in January, that would sense a user's mood and choose media based on their emotional state. That application described software that could select music in response to a user's mood, through a system that would determine whether they are happy, sad, angry, or something else.



The latest heart rate monitor application notes that the included leads and corresponding data could also be used to sense the user's mood or specific heart rate, and choose a playlist of media based on it, as described in the previous application.



"For example, the electronic device can identify media having beats per minute or other characteristics that are associated with or related to a user's cardiac signal or heart rate, and play back the identified media," the application reads. "As another example, the media provided can have beats per minute faster or slower than the user's current heart rate to direct the user to work harder (e.g., during a workout) or to cool or calm the user down (e.g., at the end of a workout)."







The invention is credited to Gloria Lin, Taido Nakajimi, Pareet Rahul, and Andrew Hodge. It was originally filed for on Jan. 23, 2009.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    iPhone monitors user's heartbeat. Continues search for Sarah Connor.
  • Reply 2 of 43
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    What a waste.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,199member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    lol or maybe it senses you are having a heart attack and phones for you...
  • Reply 5 of 43
    arisgreekarisgreek Posts: 2member
    LOL @BDKennedy...You took the words right out of my mouth.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    bandman999bandman999 Posts: 24member
    This would have been handy when I was trying to capture an arrhythmia. There's never an EKG around when you need one...



    Maybe the next innovation will be pairing two iPhones via bluetooth to administer a synchronized electric shock, for those occasions when a defibrillator is needed.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,048member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    Post of the decade!
  • Reply 8 of 43
    iancass79iancass79 Posts: 80member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    So, I am a paramedic and I will be the first to say that your P waves, T waves, and QRS segments will change due to so many factors. If you are dehydrated, , excited, atrial-fib, V-tach, the list goes on and on, your phone won't know it's you? Come on, this is crazy talk!



    Now, if you are having chest pain or not feeling well and it analyzes your heart (the best that it can) and tells you what's "kind of" going on...that would interesting.



    I can see it now, "iPhone saves man's life!" "There's an app for that"
  • Reply 9 of 43
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iancass79 View Post


    So, I am a paramedic and I will be the first to say that your P waves, T waves, and QRS segments will change due to so many factors. If you are dehydrated, , excited, atrial-fib, V-tach, the list goes on and on, your phone won't know it's you? Come on, this is crazy talk!



    Now, if you are having chest pain or not feeling well and it analyzes your heart (the best that it can) and tells you what's "kind of" going on...that would interesting.



    I agree. I can see it now. You call tech support on another line because your iPhone won't work.



    "Have you walked up any stairs recently?"

    "Did you just finish a large meal?"

    "Did you and your wife just have a fight?"

    "Your heart rate is too fast, you need to lose 30 pounds and start working at the gym regularly"



    I can see some value as a monitoring device, but as identification? No way.
  • Reply 10 of 43
    My old Blackberry had a screen lock overide for calling 911, so imagine this could be built in.





    I wonder if they build it so when picked up by a stranger it will start saying "Turn me into the bartender" over and over.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 503member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    Obviously the new iPhone will have a dispenser for beta blockers and spill one out before the heart attack strikes!
  • Reply 12 of 43
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,142member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    Maybe the iPhone would be able to do that for you ... Think of the possibilities. On a lighter vein it could alert you to the fact you find who ever you are looking at very attractive lol.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 893member
    I tend to think that the part of identifying you is to cover over the real purpose of being able to capture the users heartbeat.



    If this is done then data can be sent to a Doc's office or hospital as needed. There can even be red flags built in, such as "Call 911 Now".



    The other potential benefit is the ability to tie it into an app on your Mac, building a database for docs to review. And, of course, guidance on what to do depending on what patterns are delivered.



    And, of course, the feature can be shifted to the iPad.



    Toss in a BP cuff that works with the iPhone/touch/iPad and the devices become far more powerful in the medical fiend.
  • Reply 14 of 43
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.







    Thanks for the laugh
  • Reply 15 of 43
    brometheusbrometheus Posts: 83member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iancass79 View Post


    So, I am a paramedic and I will be the first to say that your P waves, T waves, and QRS segments will change due to so many factors. If you are dehydrated, , excited, atrial-fib, V-tach, the list goes on and on, your phone won't know it's you? Come on, this is crazy talk!



    Now, if you are having chest pain or not feeling well and it analyzes your heart (the best that it can) and tells you what's "kind of" going on...that would interesting.



    I can see it now, "iPhone saves man's life!" "There's an app for that"



    You made some good points, but I don't agree that it's crazy talk. I'm skeptical though. My question is whether your ECG still identifiably yours under typical conditions of variation. I'm thinking of conditions that lead to an increase in heart rate. I think you would agree that atrial fib and v tach are not exactly typical conditions. So potentially, this method could work reliably. I imagine that the inventors have consulted heart rhythm experts in order to figure out how to think about this. I think that this technique will never be used in a device unless the validation process demonstrates its reliability. That is the Apple approach. That's why there is no handwriting recognition on the iPad. It's just not reliable.

    Your thought about analyzing the ECG when there's chest pain is interesting. There could be an app for that. However, I expect that the app would be used to feed data to a medical professional. Any other use would expose Apple to legal risk. I'm sure that you can imagine the scenario that I have in mind.
  • Reply 16 of 43
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,113member
    Brundle-fly does not like this any more than voice recognition.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    Great. So when I'm having a heart attack I can't call 911.



    or when it detects a sudden change in your heart rate that is recognized as a potential heart attack (where you might not be able to speak anyway) a screen flashes up asking if you need emergency assistance, contacts 911, giving your location via GPS assist etc.



    and remember folks, companies patent stuff they don't always have solid plans to use, but with the patent they can make money if anyone else wants to try. and anything they are releasing now started as much as 10 years ago so the weird patents of today could be 2020's "Amazing"



    that is if the world doesn't end in 2012 after all
  • Reply 18 of 43
    bspearsbspears Posts: 147member
    Great theory but intervals and durations can change dramatically with exercise, rest state, caffeine consumption, and pharmacological therapy. I can see it now. You need to make a final phone call to close the deal and you develop left bundle branch block and are locked out or you develop an SVT and can't call 911.
  • Reply 19 of 43
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,199member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    that is if the world doesn't end in 2012 after all



    I bet you £100 the world does not end in 2012.



    I'm serious, if you win I will happily hand over my money. Up for the bet?
  • Reply 20 of 43
    jasonbeejasonbee Posts: 28member
    It can also tell you whether the person is excited or aroused.



    That should be a fun/weird conversation starter. Add heartbeat data to your social networking profile.



    "My eyes may not be looking at you but my heart tells me you're hot!"



    Maybe we'll get an iPhone app lie detector



    BJ
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