Apple acquired the sleep tracking system company Beddit in 2017 and we covered their original patent at that time. Not much has changed since Apple's acquisition market wise, though Apple has patented a few next-gen systems (01 and 02) that may come to market in the future. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple another sleep system patent titled "Physiological monitoring method and system." The Beddit sleep monitoring system hasn't changed since Apple acquired the company and so at some point in time, Apple's patents are bound to come to life in a newly advanced Beddit system.
Physiological monitoring is carried out with devices that don't require measuring electrocardiography, electroencephalography or other electrophysiological signals with uncomfortable electrodes, but are based on comfortable movement and audio measurement. The measurements needed for such unobtrusive monitoring are carried out using systems such as microphones for measuring movement sounds, breathing sounds and snoring; movement sensors such as radars, bed-installed force sensors, wearable movement sensors and further sensors for measuring movements, respiration and heart rate.
Apple's granted patent covers a more advanced sleep monitoring system than Beddit's original design. In patent FIG. 1 below, Apple illustrates the system that includes a first and second unobtrusive sensors and other sensors such as force sensors that form a multi-channel sensor system. The force sensors are in an embodiment positioned e.g. under a bedpost, under a mattress or between a mattress and a bed sheet of a double bed #110 in order to measure for example respiration, heart rate and movement of a first and a second person in the bed, respectively.
The unobtrusive sensors 120a,120b comprise in an embodiment elongated strips comprising one or several force sensing elements. The force sensing elements comprise sensor elements such as piezoelectric, capacitive or resistive elements. The unobtrusive sensors comprise in an embodiment movement sensors or accelerometers, installed in the bed or worn by the subject, and/or radars.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above shows types of unobtrusive sensors configured for sleep monitoring, such as a radar 230a, for example a doppler radar, a microphone 240a and a smartphone 250a, the sensor elements comprised in which are utilized in the system. Furthermore, the subjects A and B are shown wearing wrist actigrams 260a,260b.
Furthermore, in an embodiment instead of or in addition to wrist actigrams, for example smart watches or smart glasses, or clothes with integrated electronics, i.e. smart clothing, is used.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 shows an example flow diagram of a method. Presence, movements, snoring, and interference or disturbances caused by the other subject moving or making sounds is monitored. A skilled person appreciates that further analysis can be carried out, and further measurement data if available is used in such further analysis. For example the type of movements may be analyzed or the sleep quality may be scrutinized further, especially if electroencephalography or electrocardiography data is available, in order to find micro-arousals and cardiac arousals.
For greater details, review Apple's granted patent 11,298,075.