Apple Invents a Multi-Sensor Sleep Monitoring System with Camera & Smart Bedding that analyzes a user’s Vital Signs

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Apple acquired a company called Beddit in May 2017 that invented the Beddit 3 sleep monitoring system that used a single sensor strip that lies across a user’s bed sheet and monitors the user’s vitals overnight. This week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that takes a sleep monitoring system to the next level by creating a full mat and/or smart sheets covering the entire bed to better monitor a user’s vitals. The advanced system now includes a monitoring camera that studies the user’s night movements and more.  None of the inventors listed on the patent are former Beddit engineers making this an original Apple invention.

Traditionally, monitoring a user’s sleep and/or measuring the user’s vital signs required expensive and bulky equipment. Some systems require that the monitoring be performed away from home in a medical facility and/or require the equipment to attach to or directly contact the person, which can lead to discomfort and can lead to inaccurate analysis due to disruption of the user’s sleep. Some systems can be more user-friendly by way of portability, indirect contact, etc., but these systems are configured to determine the vital signs based on one type of measurement, signal, and/or mode of operation. With a single type of measurement, signal, and/or mode of operation, the sensitivity of these systems can lead to inaccurate and/or insufficient information, thereby rendering any analysis regarding the user’s sleep and vital signs ineffective.

Apple’s invention relates to monitoring systems and sensors for physiological measurements. The sensors can be multi-element piezo sensors capable of generating multiple electrical signals, whereby the monitoring systems can receive the multiple electrical signals to analyze the user’s vital signs along multiple regions of the user’s body.

In some examples, the piezo sensor can include one or more corrugations, such as peaks and valleys, to create localized regions with increased mechanical response (e.g., sensitivity) to force.

The sensitivity and resolution of the piezo sensor can be enhanced by further locating electrode sections at the corrugations, where the electrode sections can be electrically isolated and independently operable from other electrode sections. Traces electrically connecting an electrode section to, e.g., an off-panel controller can be routed over and/or around other electrode sections by including an insulator to electrically insulate from the other electrode sections, or by using vias to route through one or more layers. The multi-element piezo sensor can include multiple piezo films and multiple pairs of electrodes (and/or electrode sections).

Examples in Apple’s patent filing also include piezo sensors having multiple piezo film elements, where the force (e.g., stress) can be concentrated onto the piezo film elements.

Each piezo film element can be structurally and electrically isolated from other piezo film elements. Force concentration can be performed by configuring one or more intermediate layers to have a tapered profile, including one or more structures to transfer the force to the piezo film elements, configuring one or more intermediate layers to have regions of different force concentration, or a combination thereof. Examples of the disclosure further include piezo sensors configured for converting one type of force into another type of force by Poisson conversion.

Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an exemplary block diagram of a monitoring system; FIG. 2A illustrates a top view of an exemplary mat including a single element piezo sensor much like a Beddit band; FIG. 2B illustrates a top view of an exemplary mat including multi-element piezo sensors.

2 Apple patent figs 1 2A B IN-BED PHYSIOLOGICAL MEASUREMENTS - nov 2018 Patently Apple

Camera System

In another deviation from the Beddit 3 product, Apple notes in describing patent FIG. 1 that the system could include a full mat, power source, camera, and control system.

In respect to the camera Apple notes that camera 108 of FIG. 1 could be a video camera configured to perform one or more functionalities, including, but not limited to, determining the position of the user’s body, determining the location of the user’s body, determining the temperature of the user’s body, and determining the temperature of the local ambient.

The monitoring system could be configured to utilize the information from the camera in conjunction with the information from the one or more sensors (e.g., piezo sensors) for physiological measurements (e.g., heart rate measurements), analysis (e.g., sleep analysis), and feedback.

Smart Bedding

Further, Apple notes that the system and sensors could also be used with sheets where the system is incorporated into the fabric or textile of the sheet and may have related monitoring accessories such as pillow cases, a duvet and/or blanket.  This would support many of Apple’s patents regarding smart fabrics.

 

Apple’s patent FIG. 5A below illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including multiple layers; FIG. 5B illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including a single electrode located across corrugations; FIG. 5C illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including an electrode section located between corrugations.

3 Apple patent figures 5ABC Bed Physiological Measurement - Nov 2018 - Patently Apple report

Apple’s patent FIG. 6A illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including multiple piezo film elements, the piezo sensor configured for force concentration; FIG. 6B illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including multiple piezo film elements and one or more structures, the piezo sensor configured for force concentration; FIG. 6C illustrates a cross-sectional view of an exemplary piezo sensor including multiple piezo film elements connected by a film layer, the piezo sensor configured for force concentration according to examples of the disclosure.

4 - Apple patent figures 6A-D Bed Physiological Measurement - Nov 2018 - Patently Apple report

Apple’s patent FIG. 6D above illustrates an exemplary piezo sensor including intermediate layers having regions of differing force concentration; FIG. 6E illustrates an exemplary piezo sensor including a corrugated piezo film and one or more structures, the piezo sensor configured for force concentration.

5 Apple Bed Physiological Measurement Patent Nov 2018 - Patently Apple

Apple’s patent FIG. 6F above illustrates an exemplary method for operating a piezo sensor including a plurality of piezo film elements.

Some of What the Monitoring Could Measures

The monitoring system could monitor a user’s breathing motion, body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate. The monitoring system could further include fewer or more sensors and/or different types of sensors (e.g., electrodes configured for impedance cardiography (ICG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and/or ballistocardiograph (BCG) measurements).

Movement of the user’s body (e.g., chest cavity) due to blood flow to the heart and/or respiration in the lungs can cause mechanical distortions or deformations at the external surface of the piezo sensor. The mechanical distortions or deformations can propagate to the piezo sensors. The piezo sensors can detect one or more changes in the mechanical properties (e.g., amount of pull, compression, twisting, etc.) of the piezo sensors and can generate one or more electrical signals indicative of the one or more changes in mechanical properties. The system can use the one or more electrical signals to determine the user’s physiological information (e.g., heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, and respiratory rate variability).

Apple & Health Privacy

Apple’s patent filing also contemplates that an entity that may be using (e.g., measuring, collecting, analyzing, disclosing, transferring, and/or storing) the personal information will comply with well-established privacy policies and/or privacy practices. These privacy policies and/or privacy practices can be generally recognized as meeting (or exceeding) industry or governmental requirements for private and secure personal information and should be implemented and consistently used.

For example, personal information should be collected for legitimate and reasonable purposes and should not be shared (e.g., sold) outside of those purposes. Furthermore, collected personal information should occur only after receiving the informed consent of the user(s).

To adhere to privacy policies and/or privacy practices, entities would take any steps necessary for safeguarding and securing outside access to the personal information. In some examples, entities can subject themselves to third party evaluation(s) to certify that the entities are adhering to the well-established, generally recognized privacy policies and/or privacy practices.

In some examples, the user(s) can selectively block or restrict access to and/or use of the personal information. The monitoring system can include one or more hardware components and/or one or more software applications to allow the user(s) to selectively block or restrict access to and/or use of the personal information.

For example, the monitoring system can be configured to allow users to “opt in” or “opt out” of advertisement delivery services when collecting personal information during registration. In some examples, a user can select which information (e.g., home address) to withhold from the advertisement delivery services.

Although examples of the disclosure can include monitoring systems and methods for measuring vital signs with the use of the user’s personal information, examples of the disclosure can also be capable of one or more functionalities and operation without the user’s personal information. Lack of all or a portion of the personal information may not render the monitor systems and methods inoperable. In some examples, content can be selected and/or delivered to the user based on non-user specific personal (e.g., publicly available) information.

Apple’s patent application was filed back in Q2 2018 and published last week by the U.S. Patent Office. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.

Apple Engineers, Inventors

Chinhan Lin: Engineering Manager, Sensing Technology. Interestingly is the fact that Lin came to Apple via Lumentum, Apple’s main supplier of Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) found in Apple’s TrueDepth Camera for Face ID, Animoji and Memoji.   

Stuart Wenzel, Ph.D.: Hardware Development. Experience with sensors and actuators, microscale fabrication (MEMS and nanotechnology) and ultrasonics. Previous work includes microsensors (bio/chemical, physical), medical devices, microfluidics and more. Wenzel came to Apple via Johnson and Johnson medical, Insound Medical and Earlens.

German Alvarez: Embedded Systems Engineer. Lin came to Apple via Symmetricom.

Santiago Quijano: R&D in Health Technologies – Embedded Engineer (HW and FW). Quijano came to Apple via Symmetricom..

None of the engineers on this patent application worked for Beddit at any point making this an original Apple invention.

10.51 - Patent Application Bar

Source : https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2018/11/apple-invents-a-multi-sensor-sleep-monitoring-system-with-camera-smart-bedding-that-analyzes-a-users-vital-signs.html