Apple gets patent for "smart" fitness-tracking headphones

Apple/USPTO

It might seem that Apple is just starting to consider wearable fitness technology, but a patent reveals that it has been considering this move since at least 2008. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent for "Sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds, and/or headsets." The patent application describes how headphones and similar products can track health and fitness. 

 They could also react to certain head movements, using the movements as commands to perform various tasks. For example, tilting your head to the left could tell the headphones to pause the current song; tilting to the right could indicate you want to skip forward or change the volume.

As reported by CNET, the key to the headphones ability to track fitness is a series of sensors embedded into one or more areas of the devices. When the sensors come into contact with skin, they can detect everything from heart rate to perspiration and temperature. 

For people who already wear headphones or earbuds during workouts, these would eliminate the need for additional accessories like heart rate monitors. All of the technology would be wrapped into the single product.

As a fully integrated system, the headphones or earbuds could take in the fitness data, realize you are getting tired, and attempt to encourage you to pick up the pace, by raising the volume, playing your favorite song, or saying something motivational. 

There's no word on when such a device might be available on the market for consumers.

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