Apple files second AirPods-related ‘sleep mask’ device patent that’s blocked with biometric health sensors

Apple acquired Beddit in 2017 and has since filed patents to advance sleep monitoring systems (01, 02, 03, and 04). In 2020, Apple introduced sleep tracking with iOS 7. Apple recognized early on that sleep monitoring could play an important role in its new direction on personal healthcare. In fact, Apple refers to “sleep” 38 times in its latest report titled “Empowering People to Live a Healthier Day” that they released last week.

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued Apple’s second patent for an all-new concept AirPods Family device they’re calling a “Sleeping mask.”

The device includes a fabric that covers the user’s eye area to promote relaxation and sleep while listening to their favorite music. Additionally, the associated AirPods embedded in the fabric of the device are packed with biometric health sensors, including one that monitors eye and brain activity. The new device is like a next-generation smart eye mask.

Headphones can be worn by people who want to listen to audio content. However, the headphones may not be comfortable enough for taking naps or wearing for long periods of time.

Apple’s invention covers a brand new device from the AirPods family which is mostly formed of a soft fabric that rests on the eye and nose area of ​​the user.

The ends may have ear openings with triangular edge portions that accommodate the user’s ears. Tragus openings may be formed in the fabric to accommodate the tragus portions of the user’s ears. A soft central part of the fabric between the ends can overlap the user’s eyes. Light sources can be placed in the central part to illuminate the eyes of the user.

Sensors can be used to collect sensor information such as biometric sensor information. The sensors, control circuits and power source can be mounted in a rigid edge portion of the fabric.

In Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below, they illustrate the fabric face of the device. Device #10 may include conductive strands or metallic traces on a substrate such as a circuit board or a layer of fabric that form signal paths to carry electrical signals (e.g., wires in fabric 30 and/or or attached to a surface of the #30 fabric).

(Click on image to enlarge)

Apple’s patent FIG. 5 below illustrates a top view of user #71 and device #10 showing how the device can be worn by the user. As shown in Fig. 5, the device can span the face of user #70’s head, covering user #72’s eyes.

3 Apple standby device

The device may also cover all or part of user #74’s nose. By blocking the eyes, the device can allow a user to sleep or rest even when ambient lighting conditions are bright.

Biometric sensors +

According to Apple, in-device sensors may include force sensors (e.g., strain gauges, capacitive force sensors, resistive force sensors, etc.), audio sensors such as microphones (e.g., example, microphones to monitor sniffing, microphones for active noise cancellation, etc.). etc.), touch and/or proximity sensors such as capacitive sensors (e.g., capacitive touch sensors to collect user touch inputs to adjust device operation, capacitive touch sensors to determine when the device is worn against a user’s skin or not, etc.), optical sensors such as optical sensors that emit and detect light and/or other tactile sensors and/or or proximity sensors, monochromatic and color ambient light sensors, image sensors, position, orientation, and/or motion detection sensors (e.g., accelerometers.

The device can also integrate magnetic sensors such as compass sensors, gyroscopes and/or inertial measurement units containing all or part of these sensors), biometric sensors such as muscle activity sensors (EMG) to measure eye muscle contractions and other muscle contractions, eye movement sensors, blood pressure sensors, heart rate sensors, electrocardiography (ECG) sensors to measure heart activity, photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors to detect blood flow blood using light, and electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors to measure electrical activity in brain.

Additionally, the device may also include pressure sensors (eg, force sensors that can detect pressure on the side of a user’s head when the user is resting against a pillow), humidity sensors , temperature sensors, humidity sensors and/or other sensors.

In some arrangements, the device may use buttons to collect input from a button press, overlapping touch sensors can be used to collect user touchscreen input, touchpads can be used to collect touch input, microphones can be used to collect audio input, accelerometers can be used to monitor when a finger makes contact with an input surface and can therefore be used to collect finger input, etc.).

Apple’s second patent covers 20 new patent claims

Apple’s secondary patent on this device released today covers the addition of 20 new patent claims to better protect the invention from competitors and patent trolls. Here are four of the twenty new patent claims:

New patent claim #1: “A portable electronic device configured to be worn by a user, comprising: a core having a light blocking fabric; a right speaker disposed in a right end coupled to a first end of the center portion; and a left speaker disposed in a left end coupled to a second end of the center portion, wherein: the right end has a first portion configured to urge the right speaker toward a concha of the right ear of the user and a second part configured to receive a right tragus from the user; and the left end has a first portion configured to bias the left speaker toward a user’s left atrial concha and a second portion configured to receive a user’s left tragus.

New patent claim #10: “A system comprising: a portable electronic device having fabric, speakers inside the fabric, tragus openings, and a sensor configured to collect health data; and an enclosure having a first wall portion configured to receive the portable electronic device, and a second wall portion that rotates relative to the first wall portion and that at least partially covers the portable electronic device in a closed position.

New patent claim #11: “The system of claim #10, wherein the portable electronic device comprises a sleep mask having light sources.

New patent claim #18: “An enclosure comprising: a rear wall portion configured to receive a portable electronic device; a first front wall portion coupled to the rear wall portion via a first hinge, wherein the first front wall portion rotates relative to the back wall portion around the first hinge and at least partially covers the portable electronic device in a closed position; a second front wall portion coupled to the rear wall portion via a second hingewherein the second front wall portion rotates relative to the rear wall portion around the second hinge and at least partially covers the portable electronic device in the closed position; and a battery for charging the portable electronic device.”

For details, see Apple patent application number 20220240016.

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