Exploring the Latest Innovations: Patents Unveiled for Wear

Recent years have seen a rise in the prevalence of wearable technology; nearly one-third of urban adults now own fitness wearable. It is anticipated that this trend will continue over the next few years. As a result, companies are investing heavily in research and development to create innovative wearable technology products. This has led to a surge in patent applications for wearable technology as companies seek to protect their intellectual property in this growing market. Here are a few examples of known wearable brands like Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin. These companies have established themselves as leaders in the wearable technology industry, with a strong focus on health and fitness tracking features.

Fitbit: Established in 2007, Fitbit is the most recent. Following its recent acquisition by Google, Fitbit primarily deals in smart watches and fitness monitors. The most common CPC classes used in Fitbit patents and patent applications, which number around 1170, are: figuring out activity level by tracking movement of body parts; wristwatches with sensors, accelerometers, and tilt switches; and watches that can detect, measure, and record heart rate, body temperature, and other health metrics.

Apple: A key player in the wearable technology market, Apple's smartwatch offers a wide range of health and fitness features, including ECG monitoring and fall detection. The most common CPC classes used in Apple patents related to wearable technology include: smartwatches with touch screens, gesture recognition, and wireless communication capabilities; devices for tracking physical activity and providing feedback; and methods for analyzing health data collected from wearable devices.

Garmin: Garmin, an American corporation established in 1989, initially specialized in the sale of portable GPS receivers. With the widespread adoption of GPS technology, the company subsequently diversified its product line to include wearable and Sat-Navs. Currently, Garmin offers a diverse array of products that span multiple industries, including dog tracking and aviation and marine control. An expeditious search reveals that Garmin is referenced in roughly 1850 published patents and patent applications across the globe. Instruments for conducting navigational calculations, sonar systems for mapping and imaging, and wristwatches with detecting, measuring, and recording capabilities are among the most prevalent CPC classes involved.

The Suunto: Suunto was established in 1936 as a Finnish corporation subsequent to the successful acquisition of a patent for an enclosed compass housing by the company's creator, Tuomas Vohlonen. Suunto incorporated the compass enclosure into the wrist-worn M-311 field compass. Presently, Suunto offers for sale, among other products, dive computers, sport timepieces, and compasses. By employing identical search criteria, Suunto was identified in an estimated 610 published patents and patent applications. Among the most prevalent CPC classes that are incorporated in these are those that utilize portable devices to detect heart rate and garments to detect and diagnose using ultrasonic or infrasonic waves.

Therefore, these firms operate in comparable domains and submit patent applications concerning wearable technology. In recent years, there has been a significant advancement in the nature of these products. Previously, they operated as standalone devices that required the user to record, pause, and transmit a measurement or activity. However, there has been a noticeable shift towards increasingly interconnected devices that perform all tasks automatically and seamlessly. Such innovation presents unique intellectual property challenges, which we shall examine in the following section.

Hardware Progressions
A variety of contemporary smart timepieces share common physical components, including an array of sensors (e.g., barometer, accelerometer, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor) and a computer. The hardware has largely undergone incremental and minimalistic changes over time, which has been largely documented in patent applications or patent applications themselves. For instance, Garmin's latest version of the Netflix smartwatch incorporated a solar watch face. The company had previously secured patents in this field, including EP3028312B1, which was initially submitted under the name Sunpartner Tech. Fitbit (e.g., US10809666B2) and Suunto (e.g., EP2532262B1) continue to acquire patents pertaining to the tangible elements of timepieces.

The Development of Software
Smart watches and other connected wearable technologies will be capable of delivering more comprehensive health and fitness assessments and facilitating a greater variety of medical and Internet of Things applications. Some models are even capable of predicting COVID-19 infection. These categories of functionalities do not invariably correspond to novel sensors or physical components within smart devices; rather, they predominantly depend on updated software that optimizes the utilization of pre-existing hardware.

Wearable technology forecasts for the upcoming days include advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to enhance the accuracy of health assessments and predictions. Additionally, integration with cloud computing services will enable real-time data analysis and personalized recommendations for users based on their individual health data.

Ring for the Samsung Galaxy
The smart ring market is one of the most intriguing subcategories of wearable technology, but no significant player has yet made a substantial contribution.
Samsung has been relinquishing patents and trademarks for its own smart ring on a regular basis, and 2024 appears to be the year it becomes official.

Pro Apple Vision
Do you recall the enormous "spatial computing" headgear that Apple unveiled during WWDC? That one, the one that enlarges the display of your laptop to the scale of a room and provides virtual eyes? That, in fact, is scheduled to be released this year. Despite being a niche product, the potential attention it garners, if any, will be intriguing to observe. Likewise intriguing will be the observation of its ripple effect throughout the remainder of the AR/XR sector. If this segment is to penetrate the consciousness of consumers, it should likely occur at this moment.

The arterial pressure
The wearables and smartwatch industry has been anticipating the arrival of a revolutionary sensor for quite some time; blood pressure readings appear to be the most probable for 2024. Samsung has implemented a solution on the Galaxy Watch that requires verification with a cuff; however, its utility is restricted to users who also possess a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. A city is a force for good would-be smartwatches capable of detecting high and low blood pressure and raising awareness for the millions of people who suffer from hypertension.

Apnea throughout sleep
A few years ago, sleep apnea rose to prominence, and Fitbit and Withing’s provided oxygen variation readings during sleep. Nevertheless, the devices refrain from discussing sleep apnea because of their classification as non-medical devices. It is anticipated that this field will progress, incorporating more prescriptive sleep apnea detection capabilities into commonplace devices.

It is yet another feature that has been lauded for the Apple Watch X, and it would be surprising if its introduction with the Samsung and Pixel Watches in the year 2024 itself did not generate considerable discussion.

There are numerous companies with promising solutions, including Actxa of Singapore, Movano's RF sensor, and Afon of the United Kingdom.  Although an immediate solution for type 1 diabetics may appear unattainable, the development of a device capable of identifying surges or abnormal blood sugar levels in pre-diabetics could yield substantial societal advantages. Anticipate, therefore, significant advancements this year.

Artificial intelligence and devices

Portable wearables: Indeed, 2023 was the year of artificial intelligence, and it is improbable that this will alter in 2024. In this regard, the wearables industry will play a pivotal role. AI has the capability of transforming the disparate data points collected by our wearables into something truly distinctive. This could involve integrating long-term sleep data and lifestyle inputs with long-term heart rate trends to reveal information about the individual that was previously unknown. That is an enormous objective that is fraught with regulatory obstacles. However, the first elements of that are likely to emerge this year, with Apple's Quartz platform serving as a leader.

As a global leader in patent and market research, Einfolge provides sustainable solutions with insights and results. Our team of experts focuses on the latest advancements in AI technology and its potential impact on the wearables industry. With their expertise, companies can stay ahead of the curve and navigate the complex regulatory landscape to successfully implement innovative solutions in this rapidly evolving field. Einfolge is the best patent service provider, offering a one stop solution from technology market research to patentability search and analysis to drafting and filing patents worldwide. Our comprehensive services cover all aspects of intellectual property management.