Apple has filed a patent application for a blood pressure monitoring cuff, according to the US Patent & Trademark Office which published a new patent application from Apple.
The device may not be directly linked to the Apple Watch, and could be a new device altogether. For the American tech giant, this is a transition from creating healthcare apps to launching healthcare products.
The design appears to be a cuff equipped with a sensor (or several sensors) which would monitor the wearer’s blood pressure, alerting them when it goes too low or too high. According to Apple, the device may have a touchscreen, and might also be Bluetooth compatible.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a common medical condition that often goes undetected or untreated. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adult Americans have high blood pressure, and only about half of those diagnosed with the disease monitors their condition regularly.
The accurate measurement of blood pressure may vary with a number of factors, including body positioning during measurement, recent activity, alcohol or caffeine consumption, and stress levels. Even the patient’s presence at the doctor’s office can transiently increase blood pressure, a phenomenon known as “white coat hypertension”.
To get a more reliable and accurate assessment of a person’s blood pressure, the individual may be asked to periodically check and record their blood pressure at home, or to even wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) device for a period of time, typically a single 24-hour period. The ABPM device is often programmed or configured to inflate at intervals, e.g. every 15-20 minutes during the day, and every 20-30 minutes at night).
Apple described the new device in its patent application as “A blood pressure measurement system, comprising: a pressure sensor; an expandable member comprising a plurality of expandable cells, wherein the plurality of expandable cells comprises at least three expandable cells or at least two repeating expandable cells; and an expansion actuator configured to selectively expand the expandable member.”
The patent application also shows that the system may be located on a mobile device, like the Apple Watch, while the controller may be located on the same device or be on a separate device entirely, like a PC.
Although this would be a new healthcare-driven direction for the company, Apple will be competing with numerous other wearable blood pressure monitoring devices, some of which have Bluetooth enabled monitors.
If the device included into the original Apple Watch, it could be part of major hardware changes to the watch, which has remained mostly the same since 2015.