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Wearable biometrics advance with Apple patent, energy and materials developments

Wearable biometrics advance with Apple patent, energy and materials developments

A series of new patents granted to Apple in the U.S. and spotted by Patently Apple describe in-display Touch ID and other biometrics implemented on an Apple Watch.

The patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for ‘Detecting a gesture made by a person wearing a wearable electronic device’ primarily deals with the use of position sensing to determine which arm the wearer has the device on, and related applications. It also refers to the possible presence of touch sensors or biometric fingerprint sensors in the display area of the wearable.

The same patent also refers to electrocardiography biometrics possibly built into the same wearable.

Apple has referred to Touch ID biometrics in patent applications dating back several years, so the IP should not be taken as evidence of any imminent product changes.

A separate patent granted by the USPTO for ‘Eye and head tracking’ expands the claims of the original, granted just over two years ago.

Energy harvesting and heat-resistant stretchy film

Meanwhile, a team of researchers from Pusan National University, Seoul National University and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology review the latest innovations in energy harvesting for wearables in a newly-published article.

Published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, the paper on ‘Recent advances in sustainable wearable energy devices with nanoscale materials and macroscale structures’ suggests that the combination of flexibility, energy harvesting and storage that are necessary for sustainable electronic wearables is could be achieved with current technologies. Nanoscale materials, appropriately assembled, can meet the needs of wearables with mechanisms like biomechanical energy harvesting, according to the review.

The researchers also cover storage technologies like wearable batteries and supercapacitors.

Japan-based Toray Industries has announced the development of a stretchable film utilizing its REACTIS material technology to deliver strong shape recovery and heat resistance the company says makes it suitable for a range of sensors and wearable applications, including biometric health monitoring devices.

The company explains the need for wearable materials to bend and accommodate complex movement with reference to wearables with built-in sensors for monitoring biometric data during exercise.

The flexible film recovers its shape when used in temperatures between minus-20 degrees Celsius and 80 degrees Celsius, according to the announcement.

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